Prompt: “Should the police be allowed to enforce a politician’s verbal restriction against making a video of him at an open meeting?”
Open meetings can be very stressful for politicians, for this exact reasons. Politicians most valuable asset is their image. Their image is what people associate with them, in most cases it’s the difference between them winning or losing an election. So naturally a politician will do everything in their power to keep that image shiny in the public’s eye. This is where the stress of open meetings come into play. At open meetings any question can be asked, and some of those questions have unsavory answers. The politician has to constantly be on his toes, and be ready to answer every trick question thrown at him. But many politicians aren’t ready for every trick question, so when something comes up that could smear their image if answered incorrectly the politician panics. It’s because of this panic that many request not to be filmed, as that little smear could easily turn into a permanent scar on their image if it gets posted online.
The politicians motive is understandable, but that in no way means its lawful. In the American constitution it clearly states we have freedom of press, whether it be a top news organization or just someone filming on their phone. At an open meeting we the people have the right to record, document, and share any and every word coming out of that politicians mouth; if that politician has something to hide this is a terrifying fact. But it’s a fact nonetheless, and requesting not to be filmed is as futile as it is suspicious. I make the argument that asking not to be filmed is the same as admitting you have a secret, and by admitting this it only makes people want to expose this secret more. It’s like hinting about a treasure you want no one to pursue, then being surprised that people start pursuing it. The best thing a politician can do is act like they have nothing to hide, lay down so many strong cards on the table that no one even notices the weak cards in your hand. Politicians will never escape the press, trying to fight it will only lead to the press swarming and suffocating that politician and their image.