Sitting in the back of the dirty bar is a table full of smiling people. They have hats pulled down over their eyes and bottles pulled up their lips. They are sitting close to the back door. It makes quick escape a possiblity. The table is covered in spent beer bottles and scraps of beer bottle labels carefully torn to look like the southern states of America. They are public people, in a public place, seeking a modicum of privacy. They will be noticed soon by either a drunk or a floozy. They will laugh it off. Privacy, they know, is not a commodity they are afforded. They are public people.

Hours later, as they stumble into the streets, they breathe in public air. They are other stumblers around them. People can see them–especially the police. There are people among this group of private stumblers that want nothing more than to escape back into relative obscurity. There are others who are not as uncomfortable. Soon, they will all be hidden in a dark basement or underneath their warm covers. When they emerge, they won’t be as concerned about who is watching.

However…there are some who are concerned about The Government, that shadowy body and all that surrounds it. The Government may be watching.


Police in Greenville, SC are trying to install 20 video cameras in in the city’s downtown business district. That area has recently been the victim of a marrauding gang of graffiti taggers. Business owners are miffed. Security is a top concern.

Invasion of privacy is another.

There are certain members of the public who believe they have an expectation of privacy as they walk on the city streets. They believe lawful people who unintentionally mingle with the scofflaws should not be subjected having their likeness recorded.

It is a valid argument. It ranks up there with arguments against banking DNA samples of newly born children to track disease, maintaining a country-wide DNA bank of sexual offenders and violent criminals to more easily prosecute them, and installing microchips in criminals so we can track their movements. If we allow Big Brother to monitor our public movements, who is to say The Government will not use its power for evil?

It is the same argument that opponents of gun control use. They take away my AK-47, then they take away my .22 caliber rifle. Then I’ll have no way to defend myself from the Government when it’s time for the revolution.

If you have not yet figured out how I feel about downtown security cameras…you’re not alone. I don’t know how I feel about them. I don’t know how I feel about a lot of things. I have lurking suspicions about my feelings, but nothing to say for sure.

After all, why WOULD lawful people be afraid of public monitoring? I dunno. I feel like I should be worried about it, but I don’t know why.

Here is one definite thing…I don’t think we can have it both ways. If we want to give The Government power over our lives…we have to be willing to be able to deal with the power they take. If they want our guns, our bodies, our criminals, and our phone numbers, we have to expect they’ll want to take our picture.


The group of stumbling smilers will go back to that dirty bar. They will go with a two-day shadow, a ball cap, and a shirt they wouldn’t wear in front of their Public. They know that there is no privacy in that bar, but they will do everything they can to avoid the public eye. That may soon mean walking underneath a parasol on the streets of downtown Greenville.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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