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  • Bob Knight

The Hypocrisy of Privacy

I wandered into an exclusive clothing store and noticed a book sitting on a coffee-table. I sat down and began enjoying the black and white photography of various renowned photographers.

I spent time contemplating two images. One was of old lumberjacks sitting on a giant sequoia that had been cut down. I looked at their faces and started giving them names: maybe he was Henry, Jack, or Louie. They all had names, but I didn’t know any of them. They all had families, but I knew nothing about them. Perhaps they had children who had children until I find myself through, the six degrees of separation, being somehow united with them. So many have come and gone yet, they all creep into the woof and warp of the very fabric of my life.

The next image was of life in old Manhattan. Workers were digging a drainage ditch. Two dapper Italians were standing outside an Italian restaurant, smoking and watching the workers. Their clothing was different, each representing the garb dictated by their work. Among the vegetable stands was a sign with Hebrew lettering. In the distance was a horse-drawn wagon delivering produce. Everything in the picture spoke of a time when much is gone, people, buildings, transportation, and a way of life. I thought about how fortunate I am to have these images. It told the story of who I am, where I came from, and how I was somehow connected to the past.

I put the book down and proceeded to take a picture of a beautiful crystal chandelier. Looking straight up, it formed an interesting pattern. As I was focusing my lens, I was approached by a security guard who promptly told me I was not allowed to take pictures in the store. I pointed to the photography book on the table and said these wonderful pictures would not have been made had there been security guards telling the photographers they were not allowed to take photos. “Look at what we would have lost” I said. He was a young security guard, I was polite, and he just smiled and reminded me I could not take pictures in his store. I asked him if I could take his picture. Of course I knew what he’d say. So I told him, “How come I can’t take your picture, but what gives the owners of this store to take my picture without my consent?” I pointed to the several security cameras in the store. “I know,” I said “I can’t take pictures in your store.”

So I’m left with this horrible conclusion, what are we leaving for future generations. Who’s going to sit and contemplate what took place in our times? Perhaps they’ll get it from old news reports and wonder, “Was this fake news too?”

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