Saturday, July 18, 2009

Videos in Massachusetts: No Kids Allowed?

The Salem News alerts us to a bill recently filed by a state senator that could keep images like the one I took of the 2007 Haunted Happenings Parade above, off this website and virtually anywhere else.

Quoting the News:

You'll see that reality reflected in the pages of The Salem News. Open the paper any day of the week and you'll see photos of local kids — playing sports, taking part in school plays or community projects, or having fun.

It's something you'll find in most community newspapers, but a nanny-state law being pushed by a Newton senator would effectively end all that.

A bill filed by Sen. Cynthia Creem would make it illegal for newspapers, TV stations, Web sites or anyone else for that matter to show images of identified kids under 18 without the express written consent of a parent or guardian. If they do happen to show such an image, they face stiff civil penalties.

As the News points out, it’s a bad idea with a lot of unpleasant and expensive implications.

SATV could not broadcast the Haunted Happenings Parade, which features many of Salem’s schoolchildren plus innumerable numbers of kids and parents who throng the sidewalks along the route in their costumes.

With the demise of the Heritage Days Parade, this is virtually the only large celebration in Salem that is done for its citizens, and its children.  SATV’s webcast is watched by expat Salemmites and Halloween celebrants worldwide.

Not only that, the hosts of the telecast often point out interesting costumes and ask small children who they’re dressing up as and what do they think of the parade.  People watch the reruns afterwards and say, “Hey, Melissa, I saw you on TV!”

When I took that picture above, I was in a trolley on the route with my friend Leo Jodoin.  I had no idea who those kids were or even where their parents were.

No way could I have posted that image if the proposed law were in effect and no way could SATV have broadcast the event.

I couldn’t have taken this picture, either:

I’m not a bit sorry for this one;  it was a great shot!  It portrays my favorite statue in Salem, and the girl sitting on Samantha’s broom with her gives it, and Salem, real exuberance and energy.

Pedophile hysteria—which has undoubtedly spurred Ms. Creem to file her bill—has made me think of an old meme I heard when I was growing up.

In this meme, African explorers would go in the jungle, find tribesmen, take out their cameras, and get themselves speared. 

It seemed, according to the myth, that the tribesmen were afraid of the camera:  It would steal their souls.

That’s no myth.

That is our fear.

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