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Rainbow Gathering, Electronic Recording Devices and Shanti Sena

This article is directed primarily to Portland Indymedia users who consider themselves part of the Rainbow Family of Living Light, and who attend Rainbow gatherings.
On Saturday, July 2nd, at this year's national gathering in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, I became directly involved in an incident which I think representative of an issue that should be brought before main counsel. If I had been able to stay at the gathering I would have brought the issue before main counsel myself.

On Saturday afternoon I was using, in the meadow area near trade circle, an electronic recording device (ERD) - in fact a small, pocket camcorder. A brother approached me yelling at me that I was being extremely disrespectful by recording the people and scenery around the meadow and trade circle. I must emphasize that this brother was extremely aggro in his tone of voice and body language. I gently put the camera back in its carrying case and apologized. He then proceeded to tell me that if he saw me using the camcorder again that he would come back with his "clan" and take the camcorder away from me. Now I want to address two issues here.

First of all we, the Rainbow Family of Living Light, like it or not, are not the law of the land out in the woods. If you do not believe this then see what happens if you interfere with a LEO at the gathering. None of us have the legal authority to confiscate anything from anyone else, and certainly not by force. If, in fact, that brother and his accomplices had taken my camcorder by force, they would have committed not one, but two criminal acts punishable by law: assault and battery, and robbery. I need not tell experienced Rainbow gatherers about the blemishes the family has suffered in the past due to bad press when someone "takes the law into their own hands".

Secondly, while I respect the view point of those who think taking pictures of people at a gathering is disrespectful, personally I totally disagree with this perspective. I also think we are dealing with a paradigm that is shifting throughout the entire human race. Let's face it. ERDs are becoming ubiquitous everywhere. I lost count of how many iPhones, camcorder enabled cell phones, electronic personal assistants, etc, that I saw at the gathering. Most of these devices now have the capability of recording high quality images and video. Therefore to ban the use of ERDs, or to attempt to put limitations on their use is impractical at best and doomed to failure in the long term.

It is not the personal use of ERDs that is disrespectful - it is inappropriate use of the media recorded by these devices. The family has dealt in the past with abuses of video and photographic recording of the gathering, and I think we have pretty effective methods worked out for this. However we should not be persecuting people who simply want to take a personal memory back home with them. In my own case, I was taking pictures and video to show to my biological sister, who has wanted to attend the gathering for years, but cannot due to disabilities. Also, as a freelance photographer, I am usually very professional and respectful of individual people whom I photograph or video - I always ask permission. However, it must be understood that this is not always practical when photographing or videoing a large crowd in a public setting.

I would like to propose that Shanti Sena counsel adopt an "educational" approach to dealing with issues of using ERDs at gatherings. My personal opinion is that a better way than accosting people would be to educate them on the appropriate and acceptable use of media recorded by an ERD. For example, use for presentations at home for friends and relatives is entirely acceptable. However, publishing of material on the Internet (including Facebook), without the permission of those involved can be considered disrespectful by those involved.

Finally, to the brother who accosted me: if you and your "clan" had laid hands on me I would have sent at least one of you to the cemetery or the hospital before going down myself... and believe me when I say that I can do this. I know some in the family might object. However, as far as I am concerned, your freedom ends where my person starts, and I will use my somewhat respectable arsenal of personal self-defense skills to protect myself. You lucked out this time, bro, but you won't if you attempt to make good on your threat the next time we meet...