If you've been photographing for any length of time out in the wild, you've probably come across some version of the angry man. A bored rent-a-cop, a drunk, a pissed-off wrongdoer anxious that you'll uncover with your camera whatever he's trying to hide, or just some jackass entertaining themselves by messing with you.
Alex Stone, as you might have read elsewhere, kinda ran into the Big Daddy of the angry men out in California. Alex and his team were photographing an Audi on a strip of almost-empty blue highway out in the middle of nowhere (actually Ramona, near San Diego) when a big drunk in a big truck pulled up and started screaming at him to "get off my driveway." (They weren't anywhere near a driveway.) What follows was harrowing, given that it easily could have escalated into something much worse. Very fortunately, firearms didn't become involved—it was exactly one of those situations that the presence of firearms can turn into something tragic.
You can read the story and see the video on DIY Photography. Note, however, that the video is laced with profanity and is not workplace-safe. It's not very pleasant to watch, either.
The local sheriff subsequently arrested Mark Gordon, 52, on three charges, the most serious of which is felony assault with a deadly weapon (non-firearm), which carries a penalty of up to four years in prison and counts toward the "three strike" rule. (In many places in the U.S., a third felony conviction carries harsher penalties.)
Right between the eyes
The reason this story is so popular is that one person is so obviously in the wrong, and that person got nabbed and bids fair to be punished. Which is very satisfying. People love to see, and read about, just punishment. Consider "Judge Judy," a popular TV program in the United States—the most popular of the TV courtroom reality shows pioneered by "The People's Court." It certainly isn't because she is a good judge—she is an awful judge, creating for the public about the worst possible model of what a judge is supposed to be. But she's a matchless scold—she really gets after people and gives them a piece of her mind. Maybe more than one piece. That's what people love. So among photographers, Mark Gordon stands for every jerk who ever hassled any of us, and we all fervently hope they throw the book at him and that it hits him hard between the eyes. Well deserved. We wouldn't mind if Judge Judy gave him a good dressing-down in public, either, for good measure, and screeched at him to "shush" if he talked back.
Incidentally, if you descend into the comments at the link at DIY Photography, you'll see a textbook example of why I have expended my irreplaceable days and hours on Earth for the past decade-plus moderating more than 200,000 comments here on TOP. The comments on that post veer fatally off topic from only the second one, and the commenters get into a ongoing back-and-forth squabble that has very little to do with the opinions the article author specifically asked for. It demonstrates the problem with comment sections and shows how not to moderate comments. For the record, Brandon Cowart's subversive two-word comment, second from the top, would never have seen the light of day here.
I hope somebody follows through and reports on what becomes of Mr. Gordon. And I'm glad no one was hurt.
(Thanks to Rob Spring)
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Marcus Peddle: "The truck driver is a scary person and should be punished for using his truck as a weapon but I wonder if Alex got fined for blocking the road with the car he was photographing. I know it's nothing compared to what Mr. Scary did but it's the first thought that popped into my head when I started watching the video."
Eamon Hickey: "Although in this case it doesn't seem to be specifically the photographer's camera that sets off this Angry Man, it's still a useful reminder to all of us that a camera is sometimes seen as a threat, or at least as something to be suppressed. I think it behooves all of us to make some mental preparations for this kind of thing—to think, beforehand , about what you'll do in various likely scenarios if you're confronted when you're taking pictures. I have my own set of responses loosely worked out, depending on the situation. (I do not respond to unjustifiably aggressive rent-a-cops the same way I would to a real police officer or a drunk, enraged, or mentally ill person, or a protective parent etc.)."
Dan: "Many years ago when I was but a wee clod-kicker in high school, I had amazing conversation with a pretty blonde girl in english class about the 'news.' She stated proudly that she didn't pay any attention to current events...bragged actually. I was flabbergasted. She reasoned that since she had no plans to do anything about what she read, why bother. I had no retort beyond stunned indignation. All these years later she now appears as a wise woman in my memory. If only I could resist having my emotions hijacked by stories like this one. Why be angry? I'm not going to do anything about it."