Controls and confrontation

Say what you think. Dissemblers are losers.

In the old west, men used to settle their disputes with six shooters on Main Street. Justice went to the fastest. A cruel system, true, but one devoid of the greatest plague which subsequently infested this great land.


But it’s not the lawyers who are to blame. Like any whore, they exist solely because the demand is there. Growing mightily since those Wild West days, Americans have lost the guts for confrontation. Instead, they started retaining agents, lawyers, to do their arguing for them.

These agents, of course, speedily recognized they were on to a good thing and before you know it you had class action shakedown experts (pay me now or pay me later) and the tort bar.

What, of course, accounts for this sad state of affairs is a lack of parental guidance. “Believe what you say, tell the truth, and be prepared to fight for it” gave way to “Here’s the number of a good lawyer”, as if the use of “good” and “lawyer” in one sentence were not one of the greater contradictions in modern English usage.

What made me think about this was an article in the Wall Street Journal the other day explaining how on line photography hosting services were employing people to try and screen out pornography. Now this must rank right up there with the comical attempts of the Chinese and Singapore dictatorships to control access to the internet. Evidently, there are teams of poor schnucks at hosting sites charged with reviewing tens of thousands of pictures daily to censor out the bad ones. Others have adopted computerized approaches to try and recognize offensive material. Snag is, a bare bum is, apparently, very much like an apple pie to these programs, so Aunt Minnie’s latest creation goes in the trash heap with the Playmate of the Month.

God, America and Apple Pie….and Playmates.

A moment’s reflection leads to the conclusion that third party censorship is wrong. Again we have delegated control to agents rather than taking responsibility for our own actions. Where the solution to the problem rests is with proper parenting. Teach the child was is good or bad and you no longer need some culture Czar to make your decisions for you.

Which translates, rationally, to a means test for parenting. When you have a child you make a significant commitment for 15 to 20 years to another human being. Our society has concluded that you need certification to own dangerous things (guns, cars) but cares not who has a child. A means test for parenting would take care of many of the problems in our society. Fascist you say? Ask a parent whose child has been murdered by a drunken driver or a drive-by shooter.

An extension of this theme, as it affects photography, was suggested by a friend the other day. It doesn’t hurt that she is also a fine photographer. That means I pay more attention to her writings. I had sent her an intriguing piece, compiled by experts, on the state of the art in digital camera sensors, thinking it was interesting to see how quickly digital has surpassed film in every respect. She wrote back to the effect that all this technological splitting of hairs has little to do with taking good pictures.

Of course that is right. Digital or film, it’s just a means to an end. I happen to be a digital convert simply because the time from snap to print is shorter, and I have one day fewer left on earth than I did yesterday. That makes digital better for me. Maybe not for you.

But to complete the circle back to the thrust of this piece, which is all about self determination and courage in one’s beliefs, she goes on to suggest that maybe there should be a means test for aspiring photographers. If all you propose to do is take pictures of garbage well, sorry, you cannot buy this camera.

I pretty much despise censorship in all its guises, yet make an exception when it comes to parenting. So I may be talking out of both sides of my mouth. But I must admit to giving my correspondent’s thought more than passing consideration because so much of what passes for photography out there is pure, unadulterated garbage.

Were we to be more outspoken about this, more willing to correct the inept and expose the frauds, in other words if we had more guts, well maybe photography standards would rise across the board.