The Technological Quash of New Orleans Spunk

By. Bronwyn Olstein

In a city as vibrant as New Orleans, it’s interesting to wonder what ludicrous activities would be seen if there were street-facing cameras in the entrance way of every establishment that sells alcohol. New Orleans city officials recently proposed this plan, which would involve approximately 1,500 surveillance cameras being placed around the city. Although meant for a positive impact, constant monitoring could eradicate the city’s notorious liveliness.
More than just Mardi Gras is celebrated in the New Orleans streets. Various parades and festivals are held all year long. They’re a safe place, in a sense, for people to dress up as they wish, freely carry alcohol in the streets, and let go without much of a care in the world. But, knowing one was being constantly monitored by a camera could cause the public to act differently. Yes, crime rates would potentially be improved, but this invasion of privacy might also change the spirit of New Orleans culture.
I interviewed a few people in the French Quarter where a lot of the New Orleans hoopla takes place. The big event of the day was The Krewe of Barkus, a dog parade that happens on a Sunday a few weekends before Mardi Gras. Even on a Sunday afternoon music was blasting, bars were packed and the streets were flooded with people in wacky costumes and big drinks in their hands. Everyone was having a fantastic time, the anticipation of Mardi Gras in the air. A young women named Krista was dressed for the festivities in a neon blue outfit with sparkles glued to the side of her face. She was sitting on the side of the parade route with a group of friends and discussed her own personal experience with safety in New Orleans.
“I’ve lived here for three years now, I’m from Baton Rouge originally, and I’ve never had an issue in the city,” Krista disclosed. “I’ve never been robbed. I’ve never been threatened. Anything like if a guy came at me creepily I’ve had plenty of friends around to make sure that I was safe.”
But it’s questionable if the city itself is safe, as it seems like Krista knows how to keep herself protected by sticking with a group of friends when she goes out. She continued on to say that even though she’s been safe, there are horror stories she has witnessed.
Krista recalled, “I’ve been at a bar when I’ve seen delivery drivers come back sobbing because they’ve had all of their money stolen while just trying to take a delivery a few blocks over because someone asked them for directions.”
While she herself has never been in harm’s way, Krista is also aware of the dangers that are present in New Orleans. Although invasive, she’s not too worried about cameras recording her behavior in the New Orleans streets, and she recognizes how protective the cameras could be.
Patsy Craig, an older woman originally from London, was smoking a cigarette with a friend a couple blocks away from the parade. She wanted a little distance from the Barkus commotion. Holding a stronger opinion on the 1,500 camera proposal, Craig believes everyone has a right to privacy, regardless of if the invasion of privacy would create a safer environment.
Craig explained, “That whole ‘well I have nothing to hide argument’, that’s fine, but at the same time it’s deeper than that. It’s about other people, it’s about human rights, it’s about rights to privacy. Your every move should not be recorded and understood by some authoritative power, which is not necessarily operating in your best interest.”
Craig’s fear seems to be in who is potentially watching the recordings rather than the cameras themselves. If, in America especially, there wasn’t so much mistrust in authoritative figures like the police, would citizens be less afraid of being recorded? Even though issues of crime could be solved, the current political climate might potentially create other problems.
In regards to cameras hindering New Orleans rambunctiousness, a middle aged man named Ty Green was very optimistic. He was dressed in a suit working as a doorman the day of Barkus. Green’s job alone leads one to infer that he’s seen a lot in the French Quarter streets. Green has lived in New Orleans for his entire life, so he’s definitely witnessed some crazy days in the city. When asked how cameras could have an effect on the spirit of New Orleans he laughed and said, “That’s something that’s been going on for centuries, in regards to the folks who drink and act rowdy. That’s something that’s not gonna be stopped because it’s New Orleans and people tend to come here knowing that they’ll have an opportunity to drink and not go to jail for rowdiness unless they’re disruptive or destructive”.
Perhaps the reputation that New Orleans carries makes people feel protected in the city, even if they were being watched. Maybe its reputation creates less of a chance of police being alarmed when people are acting a little wild in the streets. Green also admits to have had no personal dangerous experiences in his hometown. When looking at the cameras from an ethical perspective, Green believes “It’s an invasion, but then again it’s a protection. It’s six one way, half a dozen the other”.

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