Don’t give up freedom to catch red-light runners

By RICHARD B. HETNARSKI, Naples
6:12 p.m., Saturday, June 14, 2008

I have read with great concern the June 6 column by Daily News editorial board member Kim Pokarney, “What’s wrong with using cameras to catch red-light runners?”

Well, Pokarney thinks that there is nothing wrong with this plan. But she is very wrong. We need to guard our freedoms when we still can do it.

After cameras to catch red-light runners are installed, the next step will be mounting cameras on every pole, and at all street corners, and connecting them to the software that recognizes people’s faces.

So, Big Brother will know when Kim Pokarney leaves her house, where she goes, with whom she meets and, by connecting the system to the cellular-phone net, they will know what she talks about, and with whom.

Maybe even then Kim will think that there is nothing wrong with this, because she has nothing to hide.

Then there will be the next step; Big Brother will install cameras in Kim’s house “for her safety” and she will start to protest. But at that stage, her protests will be ignored or, better, she will be punished for protesting.

That is how a democracy is lost to an autocracy.

Kim Pokarney looks young by her photo, so she does not know what I know. Let me give an example.

I lived through World War II in Poland. After Germans attacked and occupied Poland in 1939, they forced Jews to carry arm bands with the Star of David. Many thought that this was an innocent order. But then came more restrictions and acts of persecution, and 21⁄2 years later 3 million Polish Jews were murdered in death camps at Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek, Sobibor and many other places, as well as in the streets of Warsaw, Krakow and other cities, including a small, ancient city of Stopnica, where I was born and lived.

And let us recall that before Adolf Hitler became a dictator, Germany enjoyed a democratic form of government.

History should be our guide to the future.

After the war, I lived for 25 years under the communist government in Poland. It would take a very long article to describe the line of depravations by the government and constantly stricter restrictions imposed on the citizens, and continuous limitation of the citizens’ rights. So, in 1969, when the first opportunity occurred that I could leave communist Poland, I emigrated to the United States.

There is democracy in Poland now, and I have not heard that they are planning to install cameras to catch red-light runners.

I advise Kim Pokarney to read George Orwell’s book, “1984.”

The idea of installing cameras to catch red-light runners is abhorrent. I ask all Naples residents to protest vehemently against this horrible project.

Hetnarski is professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology. He worked at NASA and was a consultant to the U.S. Air Force and industry. He has authored three books and published more than 50 scientific papers. He is listed in “American Men and Women of Science,” “Who’s Who in America,” “Who’s Who in the World” and many other publications. Since 2000, he has resided in Naples.

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Published in: on June 15, 2008 at 7:25 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It’s not a democracy it’s a constitutional republic. German was a republic too.

  2. It’s not a democracy it’s a constitutional republic. Germany was a republic too.


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