June 2, 2021

Quick Note on Metaphors

As a precursor to the lengthy arguments about anti-journalism and pseudo-anarchists attempting to censor activism, I want to briefly discuss these two specific ‘ metaphors ‘ that have been floating around the Twitter-sphere. These mantras are popular phrases used in an attempt to shut down arguments when journalists want to film any activist events.


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“Cameras are cops”

Cops are cops. Cameras are cameras. Cops use cameras. Activists use cameras. Your grandmother uses cameras. Cameras are used to preserve memory because human memory isn’t reliable. Even in collective societies, our memories are not reliable. That is why we try to keep objective records through various means of recording. Without drawings, paintings, audio recordings, books, prints, photos, videos, etc, and then the digitisation of the world, much of history would be lost to us. When you have been buried in activism for so long that you can only see “cameras are cops”, you need a break and to remember what cameras actually do. Preserve history. And that preservation is vital because people don’t live forever and some cultures don’t make it.

“Cameras are Guns”

Guns are guns. Cameras are cameras. Last I checked, cameras don’t shoot bullets, they don’t leave gaping wounds in people. We say “point and shoot” and we say “the camera was her weapon” when we speak of Faye Schulman, the woman who photographed the Jewish resistance in World War 2. She used both guns and cameras. Somehow, I doubt she would have said that they were the same thing. People used photos then to identify and track others. This is hardly different now but somehow we act as if the stakes are higher.


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If cameras are so dangerous, why take them away from yourselves, why not use them in the battles you are fighting? Why put yourself at such a disadvantage? You can not make an omelette without breaking eggs. It is a tragic fact that some more will be arrested, some will probably die. This does not mean we should not be fighting against injustice.

It means we should be fighting harder. With every tool we have.

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