The Expanding Police State in Music City
I’m within a one mile radius of just about every restaurant and bar you could possibly want to patron. There’s always something creative going down each week, and often just a few feet from my front door – from live music, art and fashion shows, grassy knoll film screenings, food truck parties, and more.
Side note: There is no shortage of top quality independently owned and operated restaurants packed into such a small area, which means fresh, amazing food with no chemicals and hormones, excellent service, and competitive prices like you can’t believe! If you’re looking for living proof of competition yielding best outcomes, look no further than East Nashville’s restaurants. It’s a free market bubble of sorts!
Even Mike Marsh’s recording studio The Paper Mill, where I’m often known to rumble, is only five blocks east of me. But best of all, it’s tucked away from the suburban sprawl. Think of it as a sort of Brooklynish area minus the pretense (although we’re not completely immune from the occasional hipster rocking a hoodie in 90 degree heat). So there’s no real need to drive. Unless…
If I do need to venture out of my East Nashville bubble, it’s only a few minutes’ worth of drive time to just about everywhere else in town. So imagine my shock and dismay when I was driving west toward the interstate and noticed a new fixture along Shelby Ave – surveillance cameras at every intersection. And no, these aren’t the red light cameras that Nashville conducted a once brief and failed experiment with. These are the surveillance cameras you see in places like Times Square.
For a classical liberal it’s philosophically horrifying. And I thought the government subsidized B-Cycle bike sharing station across the street was nauseating!
Side note #2: While out in the downtown area last Saturday night, I happened to walk past the B-Cycle store front headquarters. There was a homeless black man sleeping on the sidewalk bench directly outside while our taxes subsidize white yuppies riding government bikes around town. The irony is infuriating.
Many urban areas already have people under constant surveillance day and night once outside their own homes. Apparently Tennessee is no different, with the surveillance state quietly expanding over the past decade. The Tennessean reports:
The Tennessee Department of Transportation, for example, is preparing to add 24 more real-time traffic cameras along Interstate 24 in the Nashville area. The cameras first went up in the 1990s, with privacy issues very much in mind.
“Early on, it was decided that we were not going to record those cameras,” said B.J. Doughty, spokeswoman for TDOT. “These are traffic and congestion management tools. Our goal is only to see what’s happening at that particular moment, and it’s not for anything other than that.”
Cameras probably are most prolific on government property. School systems have cameras inside buildings and on buses, particularly in light of mass shootings at schools across the nation. By the end of September, the Williamson County School District intends to have cameras on all 245 school buses in its fleet for safety purposes.
This makes perfect sense, as Shelby Ave not only leads me to the interstate and downtown, but also has public schools along the way. Talk about your perfect storm.
Even though Metro Police claim these cameras help solve and deter crimes, Vanderbilt Criminologist Christopher Slobogin – a widely recognized expert on privacy issues – reacted by saying, “There is also no doubt that this surveillance has allowed the government to accumulate a tremendous amount of information about its citizens, much of it having nothing to do with criminal activity.” (emphasis mine)
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