Recently in Florida U.S.A., a man the same age as me shot and killed an unarmed 17 year old boy in a gated community. This man was also the captain of his local Neighbourhood Watch Group, and confronted the boy on reasons of “suspiciousness”. This man, George Zimmerman, also called the police prior to the confrontation to notify them of this “suspicious” young man. After the police instructed him not to confront him, he went out and did it anyways, which resulted in Zimmerman shooting the boy point blank in what he calls “self-defense”. Zimmerman, a college grad in !CRIMINAL JUSTICE! has not been arrested because of a loop hole?! How convenient. Zimmerman is supposedly using a weird american law called “Stand your ground” to get out of being arrested. The cops have also been trying to cover up the racism involved in the case.
In this excerpt from my OCAD thesis paper I write about this very thing in a way I feel predicts such events as this case. This is the idea that the effects of increased surveillance within society creates the possibility for paranoid tendencies to become normalized. This normalization creates a paranoid-psychosis, which based on cultural prejudices, can lead to violent and “self-justified” criminal acts:
States of Paranoia:
The Toronto police claim on their website that the NHW program promotes public safety, however:
“Surveillance, while conceptually distinct from suspicion, is materially and discursively connected to it… that the increased surveillance of the population has been one of the conditions of possibility for paranoia.” (Harper, 1999.)
In other words, because the NHW program relies on people to be on guard for suspicious behaviour in their community, it is promoting the development of paranoid tendencies within the public. Everyone has his or her own definitions of “safety” and “security”. It can differ from neighbourhood to neighbourhood and ultimately relies on the society in which the community is based. Since 9/11, acts of racial profiling exploded over North America. Much like the effects of anti-communist propaganda during the Cold War, mass media outlets such as CNN started depicting Muslims in a negative light. Wide spread paranoia and panic can make people forget that violent acts motivated by religion or politics can be committed by any man or any woman of any nation.
-Excerpt from Vanessa Rieger’s Thesis paper, 2009.