A security guard at the Fareham Shopping Centre in the UK accused a middle-aged couple of terrorism and banned them for life when they took out a camera to take a picture of their grandchildren. After the press jumped on the story, the manager of the mall said that they weren't terrorists, but that taking pictures of their grandchildren in the mall did pose a "security risk" and that they could come back provided they didn't take any pictures.
Malls get all kinds of tax- and zoning-deals in order to set up shop in the middle of town, often displacing public streets and squares. Then their owners turn into ban-happy authoritarians who set out all kinds of ridiculous policies and repeat an endless mantra of "private property" without ever acknowledging the public largesse on which they depend.
The couple were on a four-day break from their home in Spain and wanted to surprise their family by arriving at the centre, in Fareham, Hants, while they were shopping.
But when they went to take a photo, a security guard pounced and ordered them out.
The guard then insisted that cameras were banned because of the risk of a terrorist attack - and barred the bemused couple for life.
Speaking from her home in Malaga, Spain, Mrs Sparshott, 51, said: "I couldn't believe it. I was so shocked.
"He said we had committed an act of terrorism.
"At first I wanted the ground to swallow me up whole because it was so embarassing - but then I got really angry."
When I was in high-school, the Intercon security staff for College Park in Toronto -- the mall across the road -- banned more than half the student body and many of the faculty, for arbitrary and imaginary reasons. I remember one day I was in the line to buy my lunch when a security guard came up and issued me a lifetime ban "for hanging around, not buying anything." The irony of my having to interrupt him to collect my change and receipt was apparently lost on him (and the mall management, who wouldn't return my call).
These behemoths take our handouts and take over our streets -- the least they can do is behave like good neighbors.