Of Privacy, Dubious Understandings, and Libber-tarian Blather
OPINION
By Leroy W. Demery, Jr.
Imagine my surprise this morning (2011 October 9, SBB PST Time) when I spotted a quote by the self-styled “Antiplanner” and realized that - heavens to murgatroyd - I get to accuse (snicker, snicker) the one and only (thank goodness for that) R-a-n-d-a-l O’-T-o-o-l-e of . . . well, prevarication, or at least dubious understandings (snicker, snicker; from 0:14).
Yes, there is a serious point herein, but that won’t stop me from having a little fun - at O’Toole’s expense (snicker snicker), performance near end by baseball great Jay Buhner).
My vote for “Best Libber-tarian Blather of the Day” goes to the following:
No, it isn’t - but more about that in a moment. I think that the sentence above is more than mere “blather.” It’s an outright falsehood, carefully - and, I admit, cleverly - presented as a “rhetorical question.” By doing so, the writer seeks to avoid accusations of “lying.” The problem here is that O’Toole certainly knows better. That, for what it’s worth, is my opinion.
(The sentence in question, with reference to our six-part rubric, is both a 59er and a Pop!. A 59er is a statement that smacks of “truthiness” as contrasted to fact. A Pop! is a statement using “weasel words” to embellish the vague or ambiguous.)  
The U.S. does not have legal restrictions on access to “closed-circuit television” (CCTV) recordings - as the U.K. does, under its “Data Protection Act 1998.” However “security camera footage” by U.S. “public agencies” is not automatically “public information.”
Each U.S. state has its own “freedom of information” laws which govern access to public records. Each state also has its own standards for disclosure. Some states have remarkably restrictive standards: under its Open Records Law, Pennsylvania establishes that all public documents are not part of the “public record” and are not subject to disclosure unless proven otherwise. Alabama and South Dakota have even more restrictive standards.
The California Public Records Act was enacted in 1968, and voters added freedom of information provisions to the California Constitution in 2004. This does not mean that California transit agencies are free to disclose “security camera footage” as they wish. In 1972, California voters enshrined privacy as an “inalienable right” in the state Constitution. Thus, “security camera footage” disclosure policies are very restrictive - as one might expect.
A decade ago I worked as a high school teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. In response to explicit inquiry, both the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) and the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) advised me that “security camera footage” would not be released to a school district - except in cases of felony prosecution.
Now, dear reader, with reference to “security camera footage,” I ask you: how could any self-respecting Libertarian (or “Libber-tarian”) not know “all of the above, and then some?”
I’ll add a bit of entertainment that readers (those few who remain) might like to save for their next encounter with the neighborhood “birther.” I was born in Pennsylvania, which does not include a bit of information on birth certificates that Hawaii does (at least in one well-known recent case) - race of parents. Pennsylvania once provided this information, but stopped doing so during the 1970s.
(It helps to understand that, outside the U.S., the phrase “birth certificate” refers to the original document, maintained by some government agency. Within the U.S., “birth certificate” refers - usually - to a certified copy or transcript of the original document. Such copies or transcripts do not necessarily include “all” information on the “original” document.)
The pertinent page on the Pennsylvania Department of Health website does not state this fact. I learned about this when I telephoned the PA DoH in Harrisburg - out of curiosity. I also learned that PA DoH will disclose the race of one’s parents - as reported by the mother at the time of birth - in a “supplementary letter.” Such letters are provided only in response to an explicit, written request - which must specify the reason for the request. The PA DoH staff member did not say so explicitly, but gave the distinct impression that such requests are not automatically approved (i.e. don’t tell them that you’ve applied for membership in some “hate group”).
The apparent reason for this policy: several lawsuits against PA DoH during the 1970s by people demanding “corrections” to “race of parents” as this information appeared on birth certificates.
Again, I ask you: how could any self-respecting Libertarian (or “Libber-tarian”) not know “all of the above, and then some?”
I do not expect much of a response from O’Toole (from 0:07). So, I’ll indulge in a parting shot, once uttered by a certain well-known cartoon character: ?So long, screwy! See ya in St. Louis!" (Get it? Get it?) . . .
. . . and submit my suggestion for how the (self-styled) Antiplanner should conclude each blog post, report and and so forth.