“Officer Bubbles” Blows Threats At YouTube

imageI’m very supportive of the police (in most circumstances), and I’m well aware that they do courageous work. But, that support stops when unlawful petty tyranny is used to intimidate those who are engaged in exercising their right to protest against public policy.

The freedom to express an opinion, on public issues, is one of the most important foundation blocks of western democracy. That includes the right to protest against policies that some might consider pro-corporate policies of their government.

While Canadian Forces are fighting in Afghanistan, in defense of the right of the people of Afghanistan to choose democracy as their representative form of government, Canadians were recently exposed to their own government’s hypocrisy, writ large.

During the G20 summit held in Toronto in late June of this year, democracy took a beating – leading to the arrest of more than 1,100 protestors (including members of the media), who were then held in cages, open to the weather, for periods ranging from hours to days. All those held in these conditions, were denied access to legal counsel.

Common complaints by those who were held included – being left cold, hungry, without water, and without proper toilet facilities. A number of female protestors subsequently revealed, they had been sexually threatened by the police, strip searched, and taunted with threats of rape.

Virtually all of the caged protesters were released without charge, after having spent as much as several days in these conditions. Of those left facing charges, 6 have pleaded guilty to minor infractions, leaving 17 individuals still to be dealt with by the courts.

There are now a slew of ongoing lawsuits (totaling in excess of 200 Million dollars), claiming assault and battery, unlawful arrest and detention, malicious prosecution, and violations of constitutional rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As well, police conduct is now being investigated by no fewer than three separate government inquiries.

A reasonable person could conclude that the Toronto police overreacted, and engaged in the wholesale suppression of democratic rights during the G20 summit. A powerful representation of this overreaction was illustrated by the now infamous “Officer Bubbles” incident, in which a Toronto policeman threatened to, and then subsequently arrested, a young woman for blowing bubbles.

The cell phone video of this incident “Officer Bubbles”- From Bubbles to Bookings, has proven to be a big hit on YouTube.

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As well, this incident has led to the creation of some rather pointed cartoons, staring Officer Bubbles, which are widely available on the Internet.

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Taking things from the sublime to the ridiculous, Officer Bubbles – Adam Josephs – has now launched a Million dollar defamation lawsuit against YouTube, in an attempt to force YouTube to divulge the identities of those who made a series of negative online comments. According to the lawsuit, there are 24 identities being sought.

In a show of resistance to this patently absurd situation, scores of new comments (including the one below), have been posted – many of which challenge Josephs to add their names as defendants to the lawsuit.

Hey officer bubbles.

It’s James Piper. Kitchener, Ontario.

Free speech reigns.

I suspect that this lawsuit will never make it into court, and should it do so, it will be dismissed. Hopefully, Officer Bubbles will be reminded by the courts, that attempting to suppress an online community through bully tactics, is a non starter.

I can’t imagine, that in a democracy, the right to comment on public issues would be infringed. But then again, that’s where this article started.

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12 Comments

Filed under Interconnectivity, Opinion, Recommended Web Sites, YouTube

12 responses to ““Officer Bubbles” Blows Threats At YouTube

  1. Georg Lechner

    Hi Bill,

    Much as I agreen with the article as such – it still is OT and has nothing to do with Internet security.

    Georg

    • Hi George,

      I’m glad to see that you agree with the thrust of the article. As for being off topic, I can’t agree. This Blog is designed to discuss and promote, computing issues – not just Internet security. In fact, I haven’t posted an article on Internet security since October 13 – more than a week ago.

      The issues in this article include – the use of the Internet to disseminate critical information freely. In this case, the egregious behavior (and the background leading to that behavior), of a police officer caught on a cell phone and posted to YouTube. The circumstance surrounding his behavior can hardly stand alone, without explanation. The article goes on to discuss the same officer’s attempt to not only censor what can be posted to the Internet, but his bullying push to punish those who commented on his behavior.

      This is a clear example of Internet “Libel Chill”, in which this man is coercive in trying to suppress the views of individual Internet users who, having viewed the video on YouTube, commented negatively on his behavior. I can’t think of a more important issue to discuss on this Blog, than freedom of expression on the Internet.

      Best,

      Bill

      • Susan Bain

        Hi Bill,

        I’m glad to see this post–you are right on when you say freedom of expression on the Internet is as important a topic as coping with cybercrime and viruses. All are threats to our freedom and wellbeing.

        Like another commenter, I always learn something from this blog, and I invariably find it interesting.

        Susan

        • Hi Susan,

          Thank you for commenting and of course, for visiting once again. Hope all is well in the Limestone City.

          Best,

          Bill

        • Hey Dar,

          While I haven’t had the personal experience with tales of repression from courageous people such as your parents that you have, events over the last 50 years or more, have taught me that we need to be on constant guard against erosion of our civil liberties.

          Thanks for the link – I’ve seen it before based on your previous recommendation, and I can certainly recommend it it to readers as required viewing.

          Best,

          Bill

  2. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    LOL. I love that name, Officer Bubbles. That photo of him reminds me of some of the police here in Oz, sunglasses, tough guy image and all that. Though I do agree with you, most police do a good job and an unthankful one. As with most groups of people in life, there are always a minority who carry on like… well, Officer Bubbles.

    Cheers

    • Hey Mal,

      Good to see that you picked up on the fact I’m not attempting to paint all cops with this brush. Officer Bubbles is a man with some issues that I’m sure are unrelated to his job.

      Best,

      Bill

  3. mrlokinight

    Thank you Bill ~ excellent report
    I visit a dozen blogs & yours is teaching me something new every week

    Here is my freedom contribution:
    >> http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8194241.stm

    Peace’n’love
    Nightjar

    • Hey Nightjar,

      Thank you for being a regular visitor – that’s the kind of comment that recharges my batteries. Thank you as well for the link – very interesting.

      Best,

      Bill

  4. dar

    g’day All,
    – Thank You,Prof Bill .
    -my parents fled totalitarian eastern Europe & as a kid i heard them talk about similar incidents You’ve just written about…
    – FYI,check out this video on how we should behave vis a vis the constabulary

    A law school professor and former criminal defense attorney gives Top Ten reasons why you should never agree to be interviewed by the police.
    cheers

  5. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    Every community has situations in which the forces of law and order overstep the mark. Here in the UK a recent example in London was of an officer striking an apparently innocent passer-by during a riot. The victim died shortly afterwards.

    Such examples, rightly, receive a huge amount of publicity precisely because they are so rare. It is vital to our confidence in the police that those who exceed their authority are exposed and punished accordingly.

    To put things into context a British force recently published on Twitter every contact they received over a 24 hour period.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-11537806

    Compare this with the heated situation during a riot in which they are often spat at and otherwise seriously provoked, and it is not difficult to see how things could get out of hand.

    The “Officer Bubbles” incident, though, seems totally ludicrous. Oh no! Am I going to be arrested for saying that?

    Kind regards

    John