Occasionally, I witness an event so disturbing I have to post it on this blog immediately. Here is just such an event:
I was on my way home from work when I noticed a press conference outside the office (covering the Tokyo police force’s anti-drunk driving campaign with guest star Aya Ueto) . “Stop drunk driving once and for all!” read the signs. When I happened by, some boys in what appeared to be boy scout uniforms were speechifying about how they pledged to campaign against this serious public concern. Directly in front of the stage stood a tightly squeezed group of TV cameras and photographers.
So far so good until I noticed a security guard holding another sign: “No photography from cameras or mobile phones. We will remove anyone taking pictures.” No sooner did I appreciate the irony of ordering no photography at a press conference than an onlooker in a suit reached for his camera, only to be immediately approached by another man. The other man reached out and physically covered the lens of the camera with his hand. He was polite but firm: “No photos please.” I looked on in disgust and headed home soon after.
What a sad display. Here was a government-sponsored press conference and the public was not permitted to record the festivities, lest it cost a TV station some viewers or Dentsu (I am assuming) a bit of marketing power. In the US the police would have a prior restraint lawsuit on their hands. But even without making a free speech argument, it is simply pathetic to suppress citizen camerawork in favor of a media cartel.