Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The price of political correctness - vulnerable children

I'm doing a slow burn after reading this report from Pennsylvania.

A woman’s report of a man taking pictures of her child inside a Montgomery County Starbucks has sparked a police investigation.

The woman, who did not want to be identified, said she was inside the Starbucks in East Norriton Township Tuesday when she spotted a man taking pictures of her child. The woman spoke to a Starbucks employee about it but was told they couldn’t ask the man to leave, according to Natalie Mittica, who shared the woman’s Facebook post about the incident.

“The barista said, ‘I’m sorry, he’s been here all week doing this but we can’t ask him to leave,’” Mittica said.

. . .

NBC10 ... spoke to a woman inside the East Norriton Starbucks who identified herself as a district manager. The woman said we couldn’t record inside the store due to the privacy of the customers. When asked why they didn’t object to a man taking pictures of a child without the mother’s consent, the woman had no comment.

There's more at the link.

What the hell has happened to parents in America, that they allow themselves and their children to be treated in this manner?  When I was growing up, if any stranger had begun taking unwanted, intrusive pictures of me, my father would have fed him his own camera, in pieces, through any and every available orifice.  My mother would not have been quite so violent, but she would have called the cops - and they would have taken the man down to the station and had a long talk with him, making it clear that any repetition would have very nasty consequences.  The law might, or might not, have been a factor in the nasty consequences.

I really don't care what the law says about someone's right to photograph in public.  They will give my family the right of privacy that the Supreme Court insists we have, whether or not local laws incorporate it.  If they don't, I'll make them.  It's as simple as that.  If anyone wants to argue about it, on free speech or any other grounds, I'll have two simultaneous responses.
  1. "It's for the chiiiiiiillll-dren!"
  2. "If I can't use the right to privacy to protect my family against unwanted intrusion, then the Supreme Court - and the state - can't use the right to privacy to protect abortion and abortion providers."



stencil said...

Wikipedia has an interesting article on the topic of "Model Release." Not sure how practical it would be, in these times, to demand exchange of a release in the event of being pic'd, but if the problem is widespread, an enterprising franchise manager might keep a stack of forms beneath the register and urge their use, to reduce collateral lawsuits.

kamas716 said...

Well, we appear to have a slight disagreement. There is zero right to privacy in an open public area. Attacking someone over it should result in the attacker going to jail.

Now, if someone is acting suspiciously I have no problem with someone, usually law enforcement, checking out that person to determine that they aren't up to nefarious deeds. We've run into this problem locally before with a guy taking photos of the people at the public pool. What he was doing wasn't illegal, but it was creepy. And I have no issue with him being trespassed for it. He's been trespassed from several places around town for doing the same thing. But just because he and his actions are creepy as hell doesn't mean they are illegal.

This particular Starbucks incident wasn't in an open public area but inside a business. The business has every right to put an end to it if they want. Apparently Starbucks doesn't want to. This company seems to have some odd ideas about things, as they keep ending up in controversy with inconsistent application of their internal policies.

Anyone identifiably appearing in a work for commercial gain needs to have a signed model release.

SiGraybeard said...

Tam had a rather different take on this a couple of days ago, from the perspective of photographers who walk around taking pictures of whatever interests them. There's a photography lobbying group called Photography Is Not a Crime.

People who aren't fascinated with bridges think a photographer taking pictures of a bridge are trying to figure out how to blow it up.

Same for people taking pictures of buildings that interest them.

People who don't think like photographers assume the only reason for photographing their child is some evil intent.

Photographers are people who will take pictures of shadows because they like the way the light looks.

What's the difference between taking a picture of someone and looking at them? A more permanent memory?

To enlarge on what stencil says, the rules used to be that if you took someone's picture and published it, you needed a signed model release. Rules have loosened, but it has always been that if you took a picture to hang on your wall or keep in album, and didn't sell it, it's the same as seeing something and remembering it.

HMS Defiant said...

What SG said but I have to add, as a single dad with a little girl at the time, I can't count the number of times parents came up to me while I was taking pictures of her at the beach or at the park and asked me what I was doing. I didn't mind. It showed a commendable interest in the welfare of subject.

Roy said...

I agree with Kamas Kirian and SiGraybeard.

In a public place, you have no right to privacy. In a business establishment or other private property, the rules of the owner abide.

However, having said that, as a photographer who sometimes practices street photography, if possible, I will always ask permission from the parents before taking photographs of young children. Even though I have the right and do not have to ask permission, if the parent says no, I will refrain and look elsewhere for the shot. It's simply common courtesy. If they say yes, and I do take the photo, most of the time I will ask for an email address so I can send them a copy. The vast majority of people are very accommodating.

But not always.

A few years ago I was at the local zoo with my two grandchildren wandering around and taking photos of the kids, the animals, and the people. There was a mother who was carrying her child in a backpack style carrier with the child facing backwards. The baby looked to be about 6 months old or thereabouts and was absolutely adorable. I took several photos of her googling and smiling at everyone. I then went up to the mother and introduced myself in order to show her the photos and get a forwarding address. Had I not gone up and introduced myself to the mother she would not have known I was even there.

I thought she would be delighted to get free copies. But that's not what happened. Instead, she screamed at me because I didn't get permission first. I didn't lose my temper but pointed out to her that the policy of the Zoo was that this was a public place and all but commercial photography was allowed. This policy - printed on the back of every ticket - specifically pointed out that while on Zoo property you can be photographed without your permission. However, I am a reasonable man, so in her presence, I immediately deleted all of the photos I had taken that included her child. I told her it was a shame because some of them would have made fine prints, and then bid her good day.

Although it has never happened, if someone physically attacks me, they are liable to get shot - and I don't mean with the camera.

Ryan said...

This is a touchy one. I’m solidly on team anti pervo but if people have a right, as the law seems to say, to take pictures in public there isn’t much we can do if someone does just that.

Bibliotheca Servare said...

Roy, you're a great deal nicer than I am. I agree with you 100%, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have deleted the photos, if only because screaming at me makes me feel spiteful. Ah well. Lol.

Abigail said...

Taking pictures in public of objects, or in relatively anonymous crowds, is one thing, and I agree that people have a right to take photos where others may incidentally appear.

But if you're taking photos of specific people as your subject you absolutely should get permission, and if those photos include identifiable minors you need to get the parent's permission without exception or excuse.

In the age before digital photography and internet distribution, this wouldn't be such an issue, because there wasn't a risk of a photo being posted online and distributed virally to millions, destroying their privacy and potentially exposing them to someone who might actually be dangerous. Like an abusive ex, for example.

Photographers need to realize that the more relaxed rules of public photography in the pre-digital age are not a good fit for today's digital environment. People absolutely have legitimate privacy concerns that weren't an issue when hardcopy necessarily limited photo distribution. The photographer's right to take photos in public needs to accommodate the reality that a photo taken in good faith might easily put someone else in actual physical danger.

Ryan said...

“But if you're taking photos of specific people as your subject you absolutely should get permission, and if those photos include identifiable minors you need to get the parent's permission without exception or excuse.”

I don’t disagree with your sentiments but the law in most places does.

Divemedic said...

How can I destroy your privacy by taking a picture of you in public?

Aesop said...


Beating up photographers is for mob thugs, petulant actors, and ignorantly superstitious third-world cannibals, not the law-abiding citizenry in well-behaved free societies.

And in many states, you'll find out the guy has a CCW along with the camera, and your attack will happily activate would-be assaulters' life insurance policies. For which outcome I'll cheer unreservedly. Hopefully there will be photographs of the aftermath, pour encourager les autres.

The solution is to take your children and leave, and not be a twit about it.
And I was going to use a different vowel in that word.

If someone is photographing kids through their own house windows, by all means, lay waste to them, and send out the hue and cry.

But once you leave your own front door, however, you are "in public", with all the rights and privileges thereunto appertaining.

If you want to call the local constables, and ask them to ascertain on your behalf that said photographer isn't a child molester enjoined by court ruling from such activities as photographing children, feel free.

Just prepare for the civil suit you'll deserve for such action if that gambit doesn't pan out for you, and/or you're sloppy in its execution in such a way as to trigger the statutes about slander.

Being a grown up means freedom cuts both ways.

If somebody doesn't like how that works, American, Delta, and Southwest Airlines, among others, offer hundreds of flights per day to other countries where one may try their hand at citizenship.

The problem there (besides horridly over-priced coffee) was Starbuck's SJW-selective enforcement of their wholly imaginary privacy policies, and mommy being a jerk-weed, who would rather carp and cry "Poor me!" than get up and leave the establishment. She would also have been well within her rights to ask the photographer to stop her ownself, instead of asking some minimum-IQ minimum-wage coffee slinger to go all Deputy Fife on her behalf, and she could even have stood physically between his lens and her children, at which point even total swine get that they've overstepped the bounds of public manners, even for paparazzi scum. But that would require abandoning her passive-aggressive self-entitled BarbaraStreisand, growing a spine, and finding a moral compass, which behavior is about like finding gold nuggets on the sidewalk these days.

My right to swing my arm does indeed end at your nose, but you don't get to stick your nose into something that's none of your business, and then try to claim aggrieved status.

And for those who skipped middle school biology, I exhale, burp, and fart in public too, and there's nothing you can do about any of that either, except move upwind.

Aesop said...

And for the legal beagles:

A model release only applies to work for gain.
You can neither demand one nor require one of anyone taking photographs. They can publish your likeness anywhere without compensation, or even for compensation if they claim journalist status, based on the First Amendment, and will win all the way to SCOTUS and back if they can substantiate such activity, even for someone who puts them on their blog about what they did that day, for the whole world to see. cf. "People Of Walmart".

What they can't do is take your picture and put it on a cereal box or in an advertisement without gaining your consent and compensating you for the rights.

At which point your only legal recourse even in that event is after the fact, in court. Assault and battery is still grounds for getting your liver punctured by lead projectiles, or your dental insurance activated by fisticuffs and handy objects, and then going to jail for starting it in the first place, should you survive.

As for public//private, you are "in public" if you are in any place open to the public. Inside any Starbuck's during all published business hours qualifies. So does Disneyland. Or anywhere else.

Starbuck's alone may enforce any internal policies, including asking you to stop or leave the premises, but if they decline to ask the photographer to do either, you have no more reasonable expectation to privacy in that or any business than anywhere else "in public", including from photography. Presumably Ms. Harpy Bint knew that the business itself was probably photographing her, her children, and everyone there 24/7/forever, with store security video cameras, but we've heard not so much as a tickle about that.

What you want has nothing to do with it.
I want world peace, a winning powerball ticket, the private phone number for the Playmates of the Month, and a pony.
I have no more right to demand those of you in public than I have to demand you stop photographing me there.
And your only legal defense to wanting something you can't have, at that point, is to soil yourself, then or afterwards (as this grating harpy did), or else learn to live with the disappointment of unfulfilled wants.

Tam said...

I'd like to see you try to feed me my camera, Peter.

Tam said...

Also, what Aesop, SiG, et al said above.