“sick minds”

 

 

'The Sick Rose'.jpg

 

 

O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

— William Blake, “The Sick Rose”

 

 

“People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook.” — Richard Nixon, November 17, 1973, during a televised question and answer session with the press

 

I thought of this famous quote from Richard Nixon, because it seemed to me that perhaps I should begin this post by stating that I am not a pedophile. So, I hereby state, “I am not a pedophile.”

Do you do, dear reader, believe me? Consider what happened to me the day before last.

 

 

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I was in what was (but no longer is) my favorite local park,  in the borough of Queens, NYC, taking photographs, as usual, of the scenery. See sample photo from this particular stroll below.

 

 

Juniper Valley Park 5-4-2017

 

 

I try to go to the park at different times of the day and take photos in the early morning and late afternoon: sunrise, sunset; light on the grass in different seasons and times of the day; the change of seasons; rain and snow, foliage; spring blossoms.

I am not a professional photographer, but I have recently been taking lots of photos of cityscapes during walks I take almost daily. I have recently found — it has occurred to me through trial and error — that a photo of outdoors scenery can be enhanced by having people in it.

Photos can be ruined if someone walks in front of you just as you take the shot. You don’t want close ups of people. But, say, you are at the beach (when it is not crowded). The interest of the photo for a viewer can often be enhanced, it seems, if people are visible in the background. See below a photo I took at the seashore a couple of months ago.

 

 

beach.jpg

 

 

I had a voila moment in the park on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. It was a gorgeous spring afternoon. Kids were playing on a greensward. Wouldn’t it be great to get them in some of my photos, I thought.

Voila moment, you ask? Three things were fused in my unconscious mind. It was spring. It was a beautiful day. Kids were gamboling, frolicking; playing at games and sports in a freewheeling, unstructured way.

I like to watch kids play. It reminds me of the joy that I and almost everyone took in play growing up. At a time when you didn’t look for guidance or instructions from adults for what to do. You just went outside and started tossing a ball around, playing tag, keepaway, and so forth.

Makes one feel young. Appreciate good health and raw energy.

That’s not how everyone sees it.

I pointed my camera in their direction (the frolicking kids, that is), utilizing the zoom feature, and began shooting away (photographically, that is). Samples of the kinds of photos I was taking are shown below.

 

 

May 3.JPG

 

 

 

DSCN0176.JPG

 

 

 

DSCN0149.JPG

 

I didn’t really pay attention to whether they were boys or girls or their ages.

 

 

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I had more or less finished eagerly taking photos of the greensward with kids playing in the distance. I don’t quite recall, but I think I was putting my camera back into its case when I suddenly became aware of someone saying — demanding of me — at a decibel level just below shouting, in a stern voice, “What are you doing?”

Two middle aged men approached me. I was standing on a walkway that encircles the park.

I felt alarm about I knew not what, just the unpleasant sense of being importuned.

Instinct told me that the best thing to do was to stand my ground, to not act as if I were “guilty” (which I wasn’t, by any measure), of what I wasn’t sure.

So, I answered them firmly but calmly (feigning calmness) by saying, “What do you mean, ‘what are you doing’? Tell me, specifically, just what it is you object to about what I am doing?”

They were basically inarticulate and not inclined to engage in a discussion (should they have been capable of it). But what they objected to was my taking photos of children. The only way they knew I was doing this was the direction my camera was pointed in. I was nowhere near the children, who were perhaps 100 or more feet away from me.

I had trouble answering them and explaining or defending myself. They weren’t inclined to listen. But, I said that I often visited the park, took photos in different seasons, and in fact took photos all over the City. I said that I had recently taken photos in Central Park, that several (but by no means all) of them included kids and no one objected. See two such Central Park photos below.

 

 

April 10.jpg

 

 

April 27.jpg

 

 

I said that I had posted them on Facebook and people admired them.

They were contemptuous of this, didn’t care. Aesthetics isn’t their thing.

They kept haranguing me. I concluded that telling or explaining to them that I experienced aesthetic satisfaction from taking such photos and that others enjoyed them was a waste of time. I therefore said that I was not doing anything illegal. “Call the cops,” I said to them. “There is nothing I am doing that is illegal.”

“We don’t care about the law,” they said. “Don’t take photos of children. Understand? Those are someone’s kids.” They said something about girls, too.

I told them I had children of my own. They weren’t listening. (They themselves were not accompanied by children.)

I tried to remonstrate. One of the guys said, “don’t get on my back!” As a matter of fact, I wasn’t approaching him, I was just standing my ground and answering him back. He didn’t like that. It looked like he was going to punch me.

I started to walk away. “Where are you going?” one of them said. “I’m going home, if that’s okay with you,” I said. “It’s this way.”

I noticed, which I hadn’t up to then, that the wife of one of the guys was standing behind him. She was glaring at me.

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

The two men who accosted me view themselves as guardians of public morality. They are self-appointed neighborhood “police.” Vigilantes, actually. A sexual predatory-iness patrol/posse.

They have poisoned the well, ruined the park for me. I will never set foot in it again.

It would be too unpleasant for me, basically because of the unpleasant feelings I left with on this particular day. Unpleasant is putting it mildly. I went home in a condition of severe anxiety and under great stress. It took me full day to begin to get over it.

 

 

*****************************************************

 

When I got home, I researched on my computer the law on taking photographs in public.

What I found is that

Anyone in a public place can take pictures of anything they want. Public places include parks, sidewalks, malls, etc.

People can be photographed if they are in public (without their consent) unless they have secluded themselves and can expect a reasonable degree of privacy. Kids swimming in a fountain? Okay. Somebody entering their PIN at an ATM? Not okay.

If you are challenged, you do not have to explain why you are taking pictures, nor do you have to disclose your identity (except in some cases when questioned by a law enforcement officer).

http://content.photojojo.com/photo-technique/tips/legal-rights-of-photographers/

 

 

In the United States, it is legal to photograph or videotape anything and anyone on any public property.

Photography on private property that is generally open to the public (e.g., a shopping mall) is usually permitted unless explicitly prohibited by posted signs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photography_and_the_law

 

 

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Let’s leave the legal issues aside for a moment. It seems that society has gone so over the top, people have become so crazed –and themselves out of control — about smoking out and pursuing sexual predators that wholesome, innocent, blameless things which actually make life pleasant on many levels are no longer tolerated.

The guardians of public morality, the suppositional, amorphous “vice squad” could care less about culture. They see boogeyman everywhere. They impugn bad motives and attribute foul, nefarious desires as a matter of course to innocent persons.

They are philistines.

Self-appointed vice squads. But it’s even worse. They’re vigilantes. They have taken it upon themselves to enforce what they see as the law. They have appointed themselves as enforcers — local, on site “law enforcement” — who will decide what is permissible and take steps to protect the innocence, inviolability, and purity of children, say (theirs and others’), in their neighborhood. Presumably of women too.

 

 

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The guys in the park obviously regarded me as a predatory pervert. They don’t want my “type” in what they consider to be their park.

It’s a municipal park. Rules for conduct are posted there. The rules are sensible ones crafted to make the park pleasant and prohibiting things like littering and loud music.

 

 

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People have sick minds.

Not me, THEM.

Read William Blake’s poem above. It’s the speaker in the poem who is sick mentally. The speaker who says, “O Rose thou art sick. ”

 
— Roger W. Smith

   May 6, 2017

 

 

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Addendum:

 

 

Great art would not be possible if the self-appointed guardians of public morality had their way.

 

 

Raphael, 'Aldobrandini Madonna'

 

Raphael, “Aldobrandini Madonna””

Kiddie porn?

 

 

 

 

'dejeurner sur l'herbe'

 

Manet, “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe”

The work of a voyeur?

 

 

 

'Young Sewing Girl'

 

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, “Young Sewing Girl”

Did he obtain a signed parental permission slip?

 

 

 

 

'snap the whip'

 

Winslow Homer, “Snap the Whip”

Was Homer a closet pederast?

 

 

 

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Addendum:

 

Manhattan is the polar opposite of the outer borough of Queens, where I live, and where the rednecks and philistines who are ever present assume that their views are the only ones that matter.

On the morning of Tuesday, August 15, 2017, I was in Central Park taking photos. Central Park has quite a few big rocks that kids like to climb upon. I noticed a mother and son joyfully playing on one of these rocks, seemingly oblivious to all else, and started snapping photos. The mother turned her head and noticed me. “I hope you don’t mind my taking a photo of you,” I said to her. You look so wonderful and happy playing together.”

“I don’t mind at all,” she said.

 

 

IMG_9762 (2).JPG

 

 

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Addendum:

 

Below is an exchange of an emails I had with an acquaintance who read my post. He lives in Belgium.

 

 

Dear Roger,

I just read your post. I feel sorry for you this happened, and I can feel your disgust about the situation and towards the people who gave you this awful feeling.

Defending yourself, “standing your ground,” was a very human and normal reaction. However, I doubt they would have changed their minds, since they already had a sick, perverted image of you in their heads, an image they clearly would not have been willing to change, even after tons of explanations. I regret this happened to you, I can see there is nothing wrong with your pictures. I am wondering why they made such deductions, why it made them angry in a way they wanted to verbally attack you. It says a lot about them. Keep that in mind. Don’t let them give you a feeling of guilt.

 

 

JB — Thanks for the email. I really appreciated it. It was very comforting.

You are right. It as a case of me being the victim of people who “wrongfully thought” of me “based on … their twisted minds.”

You are also right that they were not going to change their minds. They had an idée fixe, an image of me that they formed, instantaneously, on the spot, since they had never seen me before. They were making what is called in an English idiom a “snap judgment.”

And, as you noted, “tons of explanations” — in fact, anything I said — would have done, and did, no good whatsoever.

I appreciate your encouragement.

They are ignoramuses and busybodies who have nothing better to do.

Meddlers. Snoops.

They also have no appreciation of the finer things. But that’s obvious and goes without saying.

 

Roger

About Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer and independent scholar based in New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor. Mr. Smith's interests include personal essays and opinion pieces; American and world literature; culture, especially books and reading; current issues that involve social, moral, and philosophical views; and experiences of daily living from a ground level perspective. Besides (1) rogersgleanings.com, a personal site, he also hosts a websites devoted to (2) the author Theodore Dreiser and (3) to the sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim Aleksandrovich Sorokin.
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