Police May Detain Photographers If Their Photographs ‘Have No Aesthetic Value’

3TAg1How are the police to distinguish between legitimate photographers taking pictures in public and terrorists-in-waiting conducting nefarious schemes? In Long Beach, cops’ duties now include determining what is art, and detaining picture-takers whose photos have “no apparent aesthetic value”. So don’t take an ugly photo like the one at right, unless you want to be carted off as a terror suspect. Via Techdirt:

Apparently the police in Long Beach, California, have a policy that says if a police officer determines that a photographer is taking photos of something with “no apparent esthetic value,” they can detain them. This revelation came after photographer Sander Roscoe Wolff was taking the photo.

The police officer somehow determined that there couldn’t be esthetic value there, and thus, the photographer had to be detained and checked out. The police are defending this policy, saying that while officers don’t have any specific training in what qualifies as “apparent esthetic value,” they will stop anyone photographing things they don’t consider to be something a “regular tourist” would photograph. I actually have to go down to Long Beach next month for a speaking engagement, and I’m now tempted to take a bunch of photographs that have “no apparent esthetic value.”

49 Comments on "Police May Detain Photographers If Their Photographs ‘Have No Aesthetic Value’"

  1. Wanooski | Sep 6, 2011 at 6:58 pm |

    I have a whole photo book about the industrial landscape. The whole point of it was to take pictures of things that have no aesthetic value…

  2. Anarchy Pony | Sep 6, 2011 at 2:58 pm |

    I have a whole photo book about the industrial landscape. The whole point of it was to take pictures of things that have no aesthetic value…

  3. Rex Vestri | Sep 6, 2011 at 7:20 pm |

    Welcome to the Fascist States of America

  4. Rex Vestri | Sep 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm |

    Welcome to the Fascist States of America

  5. America has become the laughing stock of the universe…unreal

  6. America has become the laughing stock of the universe…unreal

  7. Hadrian999 | Sep 6, 2011 at 7:54 pm |

    Imagine what would have happened to Andy Warhol

  8. Hadrian999 | Sep 6, 2011 at 3:54 pm |

    Imagine what would have happened to Andy Warhol

  9. got to pass an art appreciation exam to become an officer? I thought you had to score low on the IQ test to become an officer

  10. got to pass an art appreciation exam to become an officer? I thought you had to score low on the IQ test to become an officer

    • I want to say that I think this insane that this is happening and what our country has come to. But don’t insult the police they are only following rules from their superiors. Also if you call the police with a problem you have you going to tell him then he or she has a low IQ test score and that their job is an easy one. I highly doubt it.

      • There’s nothing wrong with criticizing someone for just following orders.  What happened to personal responsibility?

      • if you score too high on the test in CT they do not hire you because smart people have a low tolerance for boredom and police work is terribly boring most of the time. and if you are overly depended on the  police for emergencies you might as well be dead. and only a person with low IQ would insult the organization they are calling for help. your comment is boring. mine was comic relief based on facts. everyone knows the force is overly corrupted and their superiors are cops as well with low IQs. law enforcement is an industry just like the rest but please dont be a fan boy unless you were actually so uncreative and naive with your life that you decided to join their ranks. we need support for more freedom not control.

      • Gnosticdancer | Sep 10, 2011 at 9:05 am |

        Is that any excuse??

        Here is a story you might have missed
        A black cop on camera stating that he would enforce segregation because that is what he was being paid to do!

        http://georgedonnelly.com/opinion/black-dc-cop-would-enforce-segregation

  11. fuck the pig.  where is the anger people? this path of censoring and decivility will continue without your rage.

  12. fuck the pig.  where is the anger people? this path of censoring and decivility will continue without your rage.

    • most people feel they are to blame for all the emotional abuse done to them. the anger only comes as their  last words. i blame Christianity and religions like it that advocate, that peons should always turn the other cheek, fear an invisible god and always always think as the establishment has instructed them, because if they dont they will die even faster. Those who have the courage and will to fight gain success and power, unfortunately evil people have that drive and good people do not. And the super organism of humanity has to do some pretty crazy stuff to make good people stand up, and use the cahones for once to create change. And that is usually some sort of shock to the individuals system or else they would do nothing. Im in this state of suspended animation and im about to burst 

  13. if they only understood aesthetics, even if they did a wiki on it (these so called Officer’s of the Law)… they would understand that all has aesthetic value, but what that value is (and here is the part about judgement) varied, and as it pertains to what is art (?), good middle finger luck!

  14. if they only understood aesthetics, even if they did a wiki on it (these so called Officer’s of the Law)… they would understand that all has aesthetic value, but what that value is (and here is the part about judgement) varied, and as it pertains to what is art (?), good middle finger luck!

  15. Happyinlove | Sep 6, 2011 at 9:31 pm |

    What is the esthetic value of their uniforms? They should be arrested.

  16. Happyinlove | Sep 6, 2011 at 5:31 pm |

    What is the esthetic value of their uniforms? They should be arrested.

  17. just have a long winded pseudy explanation of what yer doin, so it sounds artsy

  18. just have a long winded pseudy explanation of what yer doin, so it sounds artsy

  19. The Homeland is a Police State, deal with it.

  20. BuzzCoastin | Sep 6, 2011 at 10:37 pm |

    The Homeland is a Police State, deal with it.

  21. Irregular tourists, especially irregular photographers, beware. 

  22. Irregular tourists, especially irregular photographers, beware. 

  23. I want to say that I think this insane that this is happening and what our country has come to. But don’t insult the police they are only following rules from their superiors. Also if you call the police with a problem you have you going to tell him then he or she has a low IQ test score and that their job is an easy one. I highly doubt it.

  24. Tuna Ghost | Sep 7, 2011 at 7:56 am |

    There’s something inherently hilarious about a group of overweight, middle-aged detectives debating art theory in the staff room.  Picture Dennis Franz sitting on a desk saying “Well the problem with the expressionist theory of art, Sargeant, is that you run into issues with things like artists who work on commission, or even photographers.  Weitgenstein said…” and so on.  

  25. Tuna Ghost | Sep 7, 2011 at 3:56 am |

    There’s something inherently hilarious about a group of overweight, middle-aged detectives debating art theory in the staff room.  Picture Dennis Franz sitting on a desk saying “Well the problem with the expressionist theory of art, Sargeant, is that you run into issues with things like artists who work on commission, or even photographers.  Weitgenstein said…” and so on.  

    • Love this scene you’ve conjured up. Do try to tone the prejudice down though: being overweight or middle aged or Asian or tall has no bearing on the ability to understand aesthetic value or discuss art history and philosophy. I need not suit you idiosyncratic sexual or aesthetic preferences to earn a right to my own views. Basing your opinions on others’ worth on whether you want to fuck them is kind of shallow.

      • Tuna Ghost | Sep 10, 2011 at 1:36 am |

        How did you know I want to have sex with Dennis Franz, not even Dennis Franz knows that

  26. From the article: McDonnell says that while there is no police training specific to determining whether a photographer’s subject has “apparent esthetic value,” officers make such judgments “based on their overall training and experience” and will generally approach photographers not engaging in “regular tourist behavior.” 

    How about regular artistic behavior? Because I’d happily take a picture of the same exact thing so I that I could capture that rusted surface for use as a texture in one of my 3D scenes…. 

    No training indeed. This is totally ASS. It’s official. 9/11 has driven this country batshit INSANE.

  27. From the article: McDonnell says that while there is no police training specific to determining whether a photographer’s subject has “apparent esthetic value,” officers make such judgments “based on their overall training and experience” and will generally approach photographers not engaging in “regular tourist behavior.” 

    How about regular artistic behavior? Because I’d happily take a picture of the same exact thing so I that I could capture that rusted surface for use as a texture in one of my 3D scenes…. 

    No training indeed. This is totally ASS. It’s official. 9/11 has driven this country batshit INSANE.

  28. You thought judging what’s obscene was hard, try judging what contains ‘aesthetic value.’ Shit, try finding a police officer that can define aesthetic. I’ll wait.

  29. You thought judging what’s obscene was hard, try judging what contains ‘aesthetic value.’ Shit, try finding a police officer that can define aesthetic. I’ll wait.

  30. what a crock of shit.

  31. what a crock of shit.

  32. There’s nothing wrong with criticizing someone for just following orders.  What happened to personal responsibility?

  33. if you score too high on the test in CT they do not hire you because smart people have a low tolerance for boredom and police work is terribly boring most of the time. and if you are overly depended on the  police for emergencies you might as well be dead. and only a person with low IQ would insult the organization they are calling for help. your comment is boring. mine was comic relief based on facts. everyone knows the force is overly corrupted and their superiors are cops as well with low IQs. law enforcement is an industry just like the rest but please dont be a fan boy unless you were actually so uncreative and naive with your life that you decided to join their ranks. we need support for more freedom not control.

  34. most people feel they are to blame for all the emotional abuse done to them. the anger only comes as their  last words. i blame Christianity and religions like it that advocate, that peons should always turn the other cheek, fear an invisible god and always always think as the establishment has instructed them, because if they dont they will die even faster. Those who have the courage and will to fight gain success and power, unfortunately evil people have that drive and good people do not. And the super organism of humanity has to do some pretty crazy stuff to make good people stand up, and use the cahones for once to create change. And that is usually some sort of shock to the individuals system or else they would do nothing. Im in this state of suspended animation and im about to burst 

  35. no. never give up never surrender 

  36. Freedom no longer has [asthetic] value.

  37. Freedom no longer has [asthetic] value.

  38. Freedom no longer has [asthetic] value.

  39. Love this scene you’ve conjured up. Do try to tone the prejudice down though: being overweight or middle aged or Asian or tall has no bearing on the ability to understand aesthetic value or discuss art history and philosophy. I need not suit you idiosyncratic sexual or aesthetic preferences to earn a right to my own views. Basing your opinions on others’ worth on whether you want to fuck them is kind of shallow.

  40. Tuna Ghost | Sep 10, 2011 at 5:36 am |

    How did you know I want to have sex with Dennis Franz, not even Dennis Franz knows that

  41. Gnosticdancer | Sep 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm |

    Is that any excuse??

    Here is a story you might have missed
    A black cop on camera stating that he would enforce segregation because that is what he was being paid to do!

    http://georgedonnelly.com/opinion/black-dc-cop-would-enforce-segregation

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