2012-04-12: ASJA Defends the Right to Focus on the Police

April 12, 2012

Camera shy?

The police?

The American Society of Journalists and Authors -- the professional association of independent nonfiction writers -- protests the abuse by Philadelphia police of a journalism student who was simply trying to photograph them on a public street.

Ian Van Kuyk, a journalism student at Temple University, believed he was exercising his First Amendment rights of free speech and free press when he took pictures of police officers who were engaged in a routine traffic stop on a public street. When the officers asked him to stop, he tried to explain that he was within the law to take their photographs on a public street. They disagreed, arrested him and charged him with obstruction, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Van Kuyk claims that he was pushed, shoved and thrown to the ground before being handcuffed. His girlfriend was present, and when she tried to rescue his camera, she too was charged with obstruction and disorderly conduct. At last report, Van Kuyk's court date was set for April 16th.

A number of prior cases in other venues have upheld the right of a citizen to photograph an event that is occurring in a public place. "With the explosion of cell phone cameras and videos, combined with social media, an army of citizen journalists has emerged in the past few years," writes Larry Atkins, a member of ASJA's First Amendment Committee, in an op-ed piece in Philadelphia. Atkins, a lawyer who also teaches journalism at Temple University and Arcadia University, hopes that this will be "a teachable moment" for all sides -- the police, students and journalists.

As Claire Safran, chair of ASJA's First Amendment Committee, notes, "The Constitution guarantees the fundamental right to report, in words or in pictures, on events taking place in public."

  • A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.
    – Sidney Sheldon
  • A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.
    – Kenneth Tynan
  • A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self–addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor.
    – Ring Lardner
  • A young musician plays scales in his room and only bores his family. A beginning writer, on the other hand, sometimes has the misfortune of getting into print.
    – Marguerite Yourcenar
  • All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary – it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
    – Somerset Maugham
  • Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
    – Christopher Hampton
  • Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.
    – Lawrence Kasdan
  • Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research.
    –Wilson Mizner
  • Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.
    – Flannery O'Connor
  • I just wrote a book, but don't go out and buy it yet, because I don't think it's finished yet.
    – Lawrence Welk
  • I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
    – Douglas Adams
  • I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done.
    – Stephen Wright
  • It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
    – Robert Benchley
  • It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.
    – Andrew Jackson
  • Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write checks.
    – Richard Curtis
  • No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self–deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.
    – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
    –Somerset Maugham
  • Writing a novel is like paddling from Boston to London in a bathtub. Sometimes the damn tub sinks. It's a wonder that most of them don't.
    – Stephen King
  • Writing a novel is like spelunking. You kind of create the right path for yourself. But, boy, are there so many points at which you think, absolutely, I'm going down the wrong hole here.
    – Chang–rae Lee
  • Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
    –Samuel Johnson