Posts Tagged 'photographer banned'

The Consumerist, the New Censorist?

Meg Marco by Meg Marco

UPDATE: The discarted user account is no longer available on Consumerist. Maybe it was deleted by them? Guess we shouldn’t have written this post.

The Consumerist is a well-known website that prides itself on highlighting the persistent, shameless gaffes of modern consumerism – and the latest scams, rip-offs, hot deals and freebies. However, despite all of these great things Consumerist stands for, apparently some people who work for Consumerist don’t have a problem with being a hypocrite, or silencing their critics by censoring them in their online comments.

For instance, Meg Marco, Consumerist’s Co-executive editor, recently posted a brief summary of an incident involving a Burlington, Vermont, street photographer who was banned from a mall for an entire year, even though what he was doing was completely legal. Meg writes:

A coffee shop in Vermont has issued an one-year universal trespass order that bans a local amateur photographer from 67 establishments on the Church Street Marketplace because he would not comply with repeated requests to stop photographing the patrons and employees of a coffee shop. Here’s his Flickr stream.

This one should be fun. On one side you have a guy who is perfectly within his rights to hang out and photograph people in a public place. On the other hand you have a coffee shop and 66 other merchants who are sick of their customers and employees being creeped out by a guy taking pictures.

She continued by selectively pulling the following from the much larger and original article in Seven Days:

About a month later, during a February snowstorm, Scott shot some pictures of a woman smoking a cigarette outside Uncommon Grounds on Church Street. Scott claims he was about 50 feet away when the woman, an employee of the coffeehouse, noticed his camera and asked him not to take her picture. Scott claims he backed off. But the woman also asked Scott to delete the pictures he’d already taken of her. He refused. The following Monday, March 1, a Burlington police officer again showed up at Scott’s workplace, and this time issued him a one-year universal trespass order that bans him from 67 establishments on the Church Street Marketplace. If Scott enters any of them, he could be arrested.“If I had been drunk and gone into Uncommon Grounds and created a loud scene, I can understand why they wouldn’t want me in there,” Scott says. “But I wasn’t even in the store. I wasn’t even in front of the store.”

Manager Mara Bethel tells a different story.

“We’ve had a problem with him a number of times before — taking pictures of women, specifically, on the sneaky side of things — without asking their permission,” she says. “A number of customers have come in and said, ‘There’s a guy out there taking pictures and it’s really creeping us out.’”

Bethel confirms that Scott didn’t enter the coffeehouse to take pictures, nor does she describe his pictures as “lewd.” Nevertheless, she says, Scott’s persistence and demeanor were “unsettling” to her and other employees.

“For the young women around here, it felt really uncomfortable, someone kind of lurking about, and then quickly taking their picture and turning away,” Bethel says. Moreover, when someone asked Scott what he was doing, she claims he became defensive and argumentative.

And finally she ended in her own words with:

It seems that both parties are within their rights. The photographer can stand outside creeping people out and the coffee shop and other merchants can ban him from coming inside for whatever reason they like…

After reading what Meg wrote, it was very clear to me that I did not agree with Meg or her obvious stance on the matter. Nor did I agree with the way she chose to write her post (especially her selective editing and her repeated use of the word creepy), which was clearly biased with a very obvious subtext that screamed Dan Scott was a perv for taking pictures of people in public without asking for their permission. Which is rather an ironic position for Meg to take, but we’ll get back to that a little later. (However, stay tuned, there is a twist to Meg’s story.)

So of course I decided to write a comment on the Dan Scott post that was very critical of Meg Marco. However, it’s no longer there along with other comments that were critical of her post.

And unfortunately, I didn’t save my original comment posted to Meg Marco’s article because  I thought I didn’t need to since was I posting it to Consumerist, which I mistakenly thought, is about truth, fairness and impartiality. But apparently that is not the case with Meg Marco—she likes to censor her critics.

But hopefully someone at Consumerist other than Meg Marco will read this and we’ll be able to get my original comment as well as the other comments that were not approved, or deleted after the fact, back online so everybody can read them and formulate an opinion for themselves, rather than having it shaped by Meg Marco and her personal crusade against Dan Scott.

I can’t guarantee the accuracy of the following, and I’m sure my original comment to Meg was much more eloquent, but here’s the gist of what I posted:

Meg Marco-

This is probably the briefest and shittiest summary you could have written regarding Dan Scott’s situation. It is clearly biased and also very apparent that you wrote this in support of Uncommon Grounds and with a personal agenda. Rather than asking everybody else what they thought of the situation, why didn’t you just have the brass to come out and say that you don’t agree with what Dan Scott is doing, even though taking pictures of people in public without their permission is perfectly legal. Reading something like this, where there is a clear agenda, just makes me question the legitimacy of all Consumerists writers.


What is so ironic though about Meg’s position (this is where I get back to what I touched upon earlier), as well as extremely hypocritical of her, is the fact that it appears Meg also enjoys taking photos of strangers without asking for their permission. Which is exactly what Dan Scott was doing. Hmm.

Check out Meg’s flickr stream here, along with her Strangers set here, which both consist of photos of people whom she didn’t ask for their permission before she snapped away.

What’s really creepy, though, is the fact that Meg has a photo of a little girl’s ass! And she didn’t even ask the girl for permission.

That’s just plain creepy.

Creepy photo by Meg Marco

And there’s even more photos of children in her Strangers set.

Double creepy.

I’m curious to know how Meg would feel if she was banned from a public place for an entire year for taking this photo because a few people didn’t agree with what she was doing even though it is a perfectly legal thing to do, nor is she required to justify her actions to anyone.


To contact Meg Marco, email her at

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Update: VT Photographer Retires

The controversy has gotten to banned mall photographer Dan Scott. He writes on a Flickr group page that he will no longer be taking pictures, in the Church Street Marketplace or anywhere else.

A commenter who claimed to have knowledge of those involved posted here that Scott was indeed harassing people at the Uncommon Grounds coffeeshop, and it’s apparently turned into an ugly story in Burlington. Scott, however, sounds pretty sincere in this Flickr post. He also links to the offending photo, which seems like classic street photography stuff to me. Is it possible Scott creeped this woman out by shooting her from afar? Sure. Does he have every right to shoot on public streets? Yes.

There’s three sides to every story – his, their’s and the truth. We’ll leave it at that.

 Story via War on Photography

VT Photographer Banned From Mall

Photo by Dan Scott/sevencardan

Vermont, always a state on the cutting edge, just came up with a new way to to restrict the legal right of photographers to shoot in public.

Due to complaints from business owners, photographer Dan Scott was issued a one-year trespass order barring him from shooting 67 businesses in the popular Burlington open air mall Church Street Marketplace. If he disobeys that order he can be arrested.

Seven Days reports that Scott has been shooting locals in the mall for over a year and “all his photos are taken on public property, not inside stores or through the windows or blinds of private homes.” In January, Scott was approached at another mall, the Burlington Town Center, by a security guard who told him he wasn’t allowed to take photos there. He was questioned by Burlington police, and then the next day a cop came to his office to question him for 45 minutes. (Crime is pretty low in Burlington.) The photographer seemed mostly interested in finding out whether Scott takes photos of children and posts them on the internet.

The next month, Brown was taking photos outside Uncommon Grounds coffeehouse on Church Street when an employee asked him not to take her photo and to delete any already on his camera, which he didn’t do. A few days later he got a visit at work from another Burlington cop, this one bearing that trespass order. (That sounds like “uncommon grounds” for a trespass order!)

The manager of the coffeehouse, Mara Bethel, paints a different picture of Scott, claiming he’s been a problem, surreptitiously targeting women and creeping them out. She called his behavior “unsettling” and “aggressive” when confronted. 

The Burlington PD never arrested Scott and actually don’t even have control over the trespass order – they’re issued at the request of property owners. So that means, any business that doesn’t like you hanging around can actually legally order you not to? Even if you’re doing something perfectly legal?

As local Saint Michael’s College journalism professor Dave Mindich put it, “Church Street is, by definition, the most public place in Chittenden County, if not Vermont,” he says. “There’s no presumption of privacy. There’s no gray area here.”

Article from Seven Days vis Carlos Miller

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