Or as the original goes -
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
The cops demand ID wherever we go. So does the army. I can't walk in the street in Colombo without getting copped and checked.
Now the TRC wants us to carry ID that can then be inspected by the cops to make sure our cellphones are ours. All in the name of
But anyone who actually looks at all this can tell, this is not security. This is security theater. In Sinhala I use the term ආරක්ෂක නාඩගම which has the added advantage of being more accurate in its nuances of ridiculousness and futility.
But that hasn't stopped the terrorists. That hasn't stopped the killings and robberies. That hasn't stopped the white van abductions. It hasn't even stopped the attacks on journalists by so-called
public officials like Mad Merv.
But all it does is take away the freedoms and privacies of the common man.
So, where do we go from here. After all, we're losing our privacies and rights to the politicians and their whims. These are the privacies that we have come to value and consider natural. We are being brought into 1984 and there doesn't seem to be much we can do to stop it.
Or is there?
A journalist got beaten up by Mad Merv (for whom the sobriquet
Merv the Fucking Insane would be a far more fitting term). The cops stated that the journalists should not have been there since the politicians asked them not to come. But here's the point. It was a public rally, in a public location, with a public figure, who is also a public servant. We, as the public, have a right to enter any public location. To go to any public rally. And to observe any public figure in his role as a public figure. And most of all, to watch over our public servants. In that case they have no reasonable expectation of privacy.
But what does this have to do with 1984 you say. How does this affect our rights? How does this make us any stronger?
Because not only does the police have the right to ask us for ID. We have the right to ask them for theirs. We should no longer trust them. If we ever did. If a cop stops us on the road and asks for ID, ask for his first. Take it. Look at it. If he asks for you to identify your cellphone ID (and I'll be writing an entire post on that monstrosity, ask to see his. They watch us, then we watch them. After all. They could be terrorists in disguise, walking around in fake uniforms. The same lack of trust they apply to us, we can and should apply to them.
The other, and important, way is to take a picture of the cops in action. If they have a problem with that, tell them that they are in a public place. that they are public servants and therefore, you can take any picture you want. Use your cellphone camera. We all seem to carry one nowadays. You are not doing anything illegal. In fact, you could be doing them a service. After all, they could be fake cops. Or they could be breaking the law like this guy here. Or you could just say that just as they are exercising their right to check you for ID, you are exercising your right as a citizen to take a picture of a public official, in a public place.
This is not going to be easy. Those who are in power rarely want us to apply the power to them. We are supposed to be like sheep. We're supposed to show our bags, show our ID, and show our cellphones at the request of any
official figure. But we are not told that we can ask them for ID. Those of us who do use these systems, and I will be one of them, will be harassed and threatened. But they can't take you to court. And if they did, you would win.
So who watches the watchers? Who guards the guards? Who polices the police? The answer is simple.