A Snap Judgement Snap Judgement

Posted by Brandon |

The Stranger, Seattle's alternative weekly, ran a photo on their cover this week of two security guards working on an open ATM at REI and wrote a story about Shane Becker, the self described vegan, straightedge, anarchist (sounds like a big ball of fun!) that took the picture, and how he was arrested by the Seattle Police Department after he refused to show his ID to the security guards when they confronted him about the picture.

The point of the article and the running it on the cover, I suppose, is about photographers rights and the arrest of someone that didn't do anything particularly wrong, and I get that. But does it deserve the front cover treatment? Does it even really merit a mention in even The Stranger? Is this really one of the most important stories of the week? Are there no other false imprisonment/police harrassment stories that merit our attention?

This story only exists and has only been given any merit because it happened to a white kid with an iPhone and a blog. A white kid with an iPhone and a blog that could've avoided all of this. But since he's a straightedge vegan anarchist, he just had to play his role and be uncooperative.

In the same way that the "fake cops" had their role to play, so did Becker. Both roles are wrong, both groups are at fault, neither should be praised. But by picking up this story and running with it in the way that they have, The Stranger has made Becker into the harmless photographer, the one who's rights were stepped on, the victim. When really the only victims in this case are people that are subject to police harassment or worse whose stories fall through the cracks while Becker and this ATM make the cover.

But that's Seattle and that's The Stranger. It's to be expected.

On a related note - Becker sells t-shirts with atheist and vegan slogans on them that I don't want to link to, but I do want to see if anybody can help me out with one of the designs. What in the world is this supposed to mean...

...because I'm completely stumped. I guess it's just a really stupid shot at athletes and sports? This coming from someone that was at REI purchasing a fancy bike rack for his car. Riding a bike is an athletic endeavor, FYI.

I would also like to take this opportunity to remind you that I am a flaming liberal even though this post comes off making me sound pretty conservative, I'll admit. I'm just sick of people that have a lot of power and influence in this life playing the oppressed. Being a white male in America sure is hard these days, isn't it? Makes it hard to enjoy our iPhones and blogs and our fancy bike racks.


B.E. Earl said...

Maybe something to do with the choices available for inner-city black youths. What's the way out? A basketball scholarship/NBA tryout or join the Army. I dunno. Doesn't make much sense to me either.

James (SeattleDad) said...

Don't get it either.

This post reminded me of the WTO protester who was vandalizing Nike downtown while wearing his Nike shoes. Seriously??

Jesse said...

Hmm, I have that Stranger on my desk at work and I didn't even notice that story. I'll have to read more about it tomorrow. For now, I will say, "Hi, you took a picture of security guards in the process of working on an ATM. Think about what that looks like to the security guards/police. Looks like you're casing the joint, right? So, why not give them a reason to think otherwise instead of acting even more suspicious?"

Seriously? Do people really think we have a right to take pictures of anything we want no matter how suspicious the activity might be? And then, is it really unreasonable for the police to assume that a self-proclaimed anarchist who refuses to show identification might, in fact, not have the purest of intentions?

Yes, they probably wouldn't have known he was an anarchist at the time; however, if you get arrested by the police for something suspicious like that and they look into you and find out that you're a self-proclaimed anarchist, which means you are by definition anti-authority and anti-rules (i.e. "don't deface and steal from an ATM"), it wouldn't be at all unreasonable for them to assume that you might be taking pictures for something other than "artistic" purposes.

Oh, and did I mention how untenable a position anarchy is anyway? Sigh.

Becky said...

I can kind of understand why they didn't want that picture taken and published, since it's a security issue -- much as I'm sure you can't walk into a bank and start snapping shots. But at the same time, I wonder how that would be any different than someone that can post online about how to bring into an ATM machine. I don't really the issue as an example of how someone's free speech rights have been trampled upon, as you mentioned, there are harder luck stories out there.

As for the picture you posted, I kind of read more into handling all the stuff that life throws at you in order to survive and he just used the dribbling as the metaphor for the "handling" aspect.

marty mankins said...

I had read this Shane Becker story a couple weeks ago and I actually commented on his blog.

I think it's been given too much press. I mean, I understand why he took the picture (hell, I may have just out of pure curiosity), but reading about the comments from the one ATM worker, I think Shane's treatment was over the top. There should have been more professionalism on both sides.

Being told I was going to be tackled for taking a photo seems a bit much.

Sad to see The Stranger posting this on the front cover. Now there's a lapse in judgement for the effect of popularity and shock value.

Whit said...

Ben Folds knows what it's like, being young, middle-class and white. He feels your pain.

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Jenifer said...

I think Shane's treatment was over the top. There should have been more professionalism on both sides.

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shaners becker said...

The quote on the tshirt is from a Dead Prez song.