Taking a photograph used to be an innocent passtime, well at least until our authoritarian politicians and their civil servants started to place increasing strictures on what you can and cannot take pictures of. Police will often use a section 44 offence to demand to see and occasionally delete pictures and/or arrest you if you decline to show them. Taking pictures of railway stations in particular seems to draw their ire, though it doesn’t seem to take that much to that these days no matter what we’re doing.
Still, you have to wonder when certain groups might just try to jump on the bandwagon…
What constitutes a physical assault in Toronto these days?
This would appear to be straightforward. If, for example, one individual punches another, surely that’s assault. Especially if the punch in question was witnessed. And photographed.
But as I learned firsthand on Sunday, a fist in the face doesn’t necessarily constitute assault in our increasingly culturally sensitive Toronto.
The details: I was at Yonge-Dundas Square with my nine-year-old son. We ate pizza. We drank bubble tea. And I used my new Canon camera to take photos of this neon shrine.
Suddenly, a woman wearing a hijab ran toward me. She was part of a group that included two women wearing full face-covering burkas. She was screaming: “We are Muslim! You do not take pictures of us!” (Odd. I can’t find the “no photos” rule in the Qur’an.)
I informed the lady I was in a public square in a democracy. I can actually take pictures of whomever I please.
And then: Ka-pow! Her fist collided with my face. Worse, she almost knocked my new camera from my hands.
My son and I were then surrounded by a mob of about 20 people, many of whom were speaking Arabic. One kept demanding I surrender my camera to him.
It was surreal. Was I in Toronto — or Riyadh?
You cannot help but wonder when this sort of thing will start to happen in the UK, after all we have Muslims in Tower Hamlets threatening shop workers for not wearing veils, various other Muslims putting up stickers declaring it a gay free zone, plus various threats to non Muslims in the borough. So I’m wondering as in Toronto, just how long it will be for someone to be attacked for taking photo’s of something the don’t want them too. Yet this is exactly how bullies get their way, inch by inch as responsible authorities turn a blind eye to their violent outbursts and increasingly cede to them the power to determine what happens in public. After enough people get assaulted for exercising their legal rights and without those rights being protected by the police, you can be sure that fewer and fewer people will dare to exercise them. Yet as I pointed out above, our police seem to have lead the way in preventing people taking photographs, leading by example so to speak.
Every time we (or the authorities) give way in an attack on our liberties it becomes ever more harder to win them back. I hope this Canadian incident does not happen in the UK, but I suspect it’s only a matter of time.