Orson Welles on privacy, prescient remarks from 1955

Amy sez, "In 1955 Orson Welles created a BBC programme called Sketchbook. In this episode he is shockingly contemporary when he talks about passports, privacy and personal rights ending in his assertion that all members of the human race deserve to maintain their dignity and privacy. He also talks about about the role of police - interesting in light of recent invasions of privacy in the supposed interest of protecting citizens."


I wonder why it is that so many of us look like criminals in a police lineup when we have our pictures taken for a passport. I suppose it's the unconscious foreknowledge of the scrutiny to which our likeness will be subjected that gives us that hangdog, guilty look. Really, theoretically, a passport is supposed to be issued for our protection. But on how many frontiers in how many countries I've handed over my passport with all the emotions of an apprentice forger trying to fob off a five pound note on the Bank of England. Guilty conscience, I suppose ... Think of all of those forms we have to fill out, for example, you know what I mean, by police forms, we get them in hotels, on frontiers, in every country all over the world we're asked, state your sex, male or female, for example. Well obviously, I'm a male, I'm a man, why should I have to answer that? State your race and religion in block letters; well, now why should I have to confide my religion to the police? Frankly, I don't think anybody's race is anybody's business. I'm willing to admit that the policeman has a difficult job, a very hard job, but it's the essence of our society that the policeman's job should be hard. He's there to protect, protect the free citizen, not to chase criminals, that's an incidental part of his job. The free citizen is always more of a nuisance to the policeman that the criminal. He knows what to do about the criminal ...

Orson Welles on Privacy, the Passport and Personal Rights

(Thanks, Amy!)

(Image: File:Orson_Welles_1937.jpg, Wikimedia Commons)

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