One step closer to losing FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS. Thanks, lil Jerr & Bill.
ILLINOIS—Two Illinois reps, one a long-time loser and the other a noob, have gone a long way toward prompting public belief that “it’s illegal to film or photograph cops while they’re in the line of duty”…because now, under a limited circumstance, it is.
As of this past Friday, July 20, 2012, the erosion of our civil rights, including being able to report accurately incidents that are not only public but are supported by public dollars as well as to be able to show how our taxpayers dollars are being used, continued in a big way. Masked as a magnanimous “cell phone safety in traffic” move, and buried in with other laws that do nothing to prevent unsafe cell use while driving (and instead only gives the courts the opportunity to impose more fines and fees where there were none before) the latest threat to our Constitutional rights comes in the form of House Bill 5099.
This obscenity “prohibits motorists from using mobile phones when driving within 500 feet of an emergency scene, and expands the definition of ‘electronic message.’” The legislation, it is claimed, “will reduce distracted driving by banning talking and taking photos on a mobile device near an emergency scene.” Unlike the Supreme Court allowing cameras in the courtrooms in Illinois, the law “is effective immediately,” according to a little codicil on the state’s self-aggrandizing website.
We looked closely at the text of the bill. There, it states that a person may not use a wireless telephone at any time while operating a motor vehicle on a roadway in a school speed zone, on a highway in a construction or maintenance speed zone, OR WITHIN 500 FEET OF AN EMERGENCY SCENE (caps ours). There are, of course, exceptions for this, which there usually is, as our government is about nothing if not about creating a “class” system: it doesn’t apply to a person engaged in a highway construction or maintenance project, a person using a wireless telephone for emergency purposes, including but not limited to law enforcement, health care provider, fire department, or other emergency services agency or entity. As well, a person using voice-activated mode on their phone, and have a “sole purpose of reporting an emergency situation and continued communication with emergency personnel” during it.
Fortunately, the idiots who penned this law managed to clarify that “operating” a motor vehicle, in this instance, really means OPERATING, as in driving. This law specifies that if traffic is stopped or otherwise obstructed, and the car is in neutral or park, the law doesn’t apply if the operator of the vehicle wants to use his cell phone in the manner previously prohibited. We point this out because, keep in mind: You can be slapped with a DUI if you’re sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle, whether the vehicle is running, whether the keys are in the ignition. If you’re inside the vehicle intoxicated and the keys are anywhere in the vehicle, you’ve got a DUI…even if you’re not driving. So at least this law has that plus.
But the law has its drawbacks in that it’s a step in the wrong direction.
Sure it makes sense to not to text and drive. Sure it makes sense not to try to drive at any kind of speed while holding up a cell phone camera, trying to peer at the screen to see if you have it centered properly while you fumble with the button to take a pic.
But there are some people who are able to keep their eye on the road, drive with one hand, and hold up a cell phone camera with another as they pass by a scene they’d like to film…without endangering themselves or anyone. And this is what the slippery slope is all about. Some of us independent media operate alone. We don’t always have a camera crew. Some people may happen upon the scene and automatically whip out the cell phone and begin filming. What if that scene is a beating and TASERing of a restrained suspect? What if it’s worse than that: a group of “public officials” rounding up a group of civilians? What if it’s worse than THAT, even? Who is going to chronicle it if the premise is, “Move along, nothing to see here”??
The two idiots who came up with this “law” are two of the worst in the biz: Jerry Costello II (Junior) and Bill Haine. Costello needs no explanation; there isn’t anyone on the western side of the state with that name who’s worth a damn. Haine is the imbecile who, in 2007, claimed that a man with a brain tumor, Steve Rain, “threatened” him on a casino boat, and Haine took advantage of the new “public officials must be more protected than civilians” law and had Rain arrested. The man protested any such threat…all the way to his dying day, which wasn’t long in coming. He almost died in jail; as it stood, he was released to go home to die. Way to go, Bill.
Of all the people in Illinois’ highly misled stable of public dweebs, these two win the prize for the sneakiest way to get us pushed down the slippery slope. Because EVERYBODY wants to be safe on the road! EVERYBODY wants “distracted driving” to stop! We’re all super-meanies if we don’t—RIGHT??
So why take the extra step to stop people from filming/photographing “emergency scenes”?
It’s all part of the big plan, and folks, you’re watching it unfold. It’ll be something else next; say, the passenger will no longer be allowed to film/photograph. And then it won’t be just “emergency scenes.” It’ll be run of the mill stuff, like construction zones, or water main repairs. And then it’ll be public officials out on the street. Oh yes. Mark my words. We are usually always right about bad things. And make no mistake; this is VERY bad.
We intend to find out which prosecutors in our area intend to follow through with charging under this law if an arrest is made. Because we believe a decent First Amendment violation case can be made of just such a thing, especially with an established media outlet. We intend to keep filming and photographing. We hope you do, too.
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