Critics of Bill That Would "Keep Secret" Videos Like Metro Tunnel Beating Are Wrong

Being transfixed by pretty pictures is part of our DNA.
If the video of Aiesha being beaten inside of a Metro tunnel had never been released last week her case never would have become national news.

We're a visual species. Our reactions to pictures are stronger than they are to words.

Which is why the image of the 15-year-old being punched, kicked and stomped by another teen caused such an uproar. And why a dictated police report just wouldn't have been the same.

Critics of new legislation in Olympia are using Aiesha's beating as a blunt object with which to bash the bill. But while I agree with their message, I think they need to find themselves an alternative to their current weaponry.

The measure says that any government agency that provides transportation can film what's happening at its bus stations, train platforms, etc. But that same tape, previously available to anyone who filed a disclosure form under the Public Records Act, can now only be accessed by media.

Toby Nixon, president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, says restricting who gets access to tapes would keep incidents like Aiesha's from ever seeing the light of day.

"What the bill would actually do is protect government from criticism or liability by keeping video like the bus tunnel attack from public eyes," he tells the P-I in an e-mail.

But what Nixon's narrative leaves out is that the way this tape made its way to the "public's eyes" wouldn't be affected by the new law.

KING-TV was the first media outlet to obtain it. And, as far as it's been reported thus far, it did so by filing its own disclosure request.

KING was almost certainly tipped off. Possibly even given the tape. But even if they weren't, their ability to go to Metro and request a look wouldn't be harmed by whatevers being cooked up in Olympia.

Keep swinging, Toby. But get yourself a better bill-bashing implement.

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