Big Brother and his helicopters

An Edward Abbey letter on police helicopters as found at Fire and Knowledge

Tucson Daily Citizen
20 September 1972

Dear Sir:
The police helicopter is an unnecessary evil. The money being wasted on that infernal and idiotic machine would be sufficient to add another fifteen or twenty men to the force. The helicopter cannot be justified as a crime preventive; noise pollution is a crime and should be recognized as such, and in all the stink and smog and clatter of downtown Tucson, no individual machine is more obnoxious than that helicopter.

Even if the helicopter could glide about quiet as an owl, it remains still objectionable on even more serious grounds: aerial surveillance of a supposedly free citizenry is an affront to us all, and one more significant step toward an authoritarian police state. There are far better ways to prevent crime than by sending Big Brother aloft to keep his beady 450-watt eye on us dues-paying citizens.

I would suggest, for example, that a few good men on bicycles (a la francaise), properly uniformed and equipped, patrolling swiftly and silently through their own neighborhoods, friends not enemies of the people they work among, could do far more to prevent crime than two official Peeping Toms roaring over our rooftops in their fifty-dollar-an-hour plastic bubble.

Let’s think about this, people. You too, City Officials.

Yours sincerely,
Edward Abbey — Tucson

Written on July 29, 2006 at roughly 1:04 pm. And by roughly I mean at that exact time.

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