Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Banning Photons

Security guards are enforcing a "no photography" policy in this Silver Springs business district, under the false claim that the street in question is private property. It's not private property, but property leased from Montgomery County, and Chip Py and Kate Mereand have formed a Flickr group to post photos of the area in defiance of the ban, and are organizing a protest for July 4th.

As Kate points out in this article, "what is chilling... is how often 'national security' and 'terrorist threats' are used as an excuse for illegal harassment and abuse. The most disturbing trend I see is when people are asked to present identification when they are not breaking any laws."

What really struck me as odd however was that this story would have meant nothing to me if it were not for the photograph, which I instantly recognized. Now that might be ironic, but I'm not sure since I just learned there's nothing ironic in Alanis Morissette's song, Isn't it Ironic and I think that's ironic, but again I'm not sure because I learned what ironic was from Alanis and now I can't tell what irony is, and that has certainly must be ironic.

Wikipedia clarifies:

The song's usage of the word "ironic" attracted attention for what many feel is an improper application of the term. Some situations that Morissette describes in the song are arguably examples of cosmic irony: events that, as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it, appear "as if in mockery of the fitness or rightness of things", such as "a death row pardon/two minutes too late". Others appear to be merely unfortunate (not even improbable or coincidental), such as "a black fly/in your Chardonnay" or "A traffic jam/when you're already late."

If one discounts cosmic irony, however, it is arguable that the song is ironic in and of itself - there is a fundamental incongruity in a song titled "Ironic" which ultimately contains no irony. During an appearance on Sessions@AOL, Morissette discussed "Ironic" and recounted an incident where "a woman came up to me in a bookstore bathroom and asked 'Is the ironic thing about "Ironic" that it's not actually filled with ironies?' I nodded and smiled."