I read with great interest and some uneasiness The Citizens Voice's recent report about Wilkes-Barre's plans to use federal, state and local funding to install citywide surveillance cameras worth $2.1 million; the city will soon have more cameras per person than NYC or LA.
At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I could not help thinking of Orwell's 1984:
"It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself - anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide."
As Luzerne County reels from ongoing revelations of political corruption and as city funding evaporates for public amenities like swimming pools and community events, the city spends millions on measures that impact not only criminals, but each and every one of us. Does this really make us safer?
I understand that issues like drugs and vandalism present very real challenges, especially for people living in blighted neighborhoods. But does focusing on surveillance instead of community-building make the most sense?
When our elected officials take steps like these in our name, with our dollars, we do have a right - a responsibility - to react when we reject their measures.
Remember, the "dystopian regime" emerges with our consent. Orwell, again:
"We are not content with negative obedience, nor even with the most abject submission. When you surrender to us, it must be of your own free will."
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