Is it OK for bad parkers to be publicly shamed?

| 11/07/2017

There’s a Facebook page named “Cayman’s worst parking”; people take pictures of cars that are badly parked and post them on it. My question: Is it legal to take pictures of someone else’s property and post them with all kind of horrible remarks and comments?

Auntie’s answer: The first thing I did after receiving this question was to go to the Facebook page in question, and here is the link for those who have never seen it. In brief, the page contains posts of various photos taken of cars that are not only badly parked but, in some cases, absurdly parked, taking up space where there is no designated spot of any kind, or perhaps deliberately using two spots to avoid any possible contact with another vehicle.

Along with the photos are comments from the posters and then people replying to those comments. And, yes, some of the comments are quite harsh.

I then looked to the Penal Code (2013 Revision), which covers the offence of libel in Section 171: “A person who by print, writing, painting, effigy, tape, film, disc or other recording or by any means other than by gestures or spoken words or other sounds unlawfully publishes or facilitates the publication of any defamatory matter concerning another person with intent to defame that other person commits libel.”

However, Section 174 notes: “Any publication of defamatory matter concerning a person is unlawful…unless (a) the matter is true and it was for the benefit of the public that it should be published.”

Based on those sections, it seems to me that no law is being broken by the publishing of the photos, since the vehicles were without a doubt badly parked, so the “matter is true”. In addition, the cars in question, which are parked without any obvious attempt to fit between the clearly demarcated lines or by any lines at all, are out in public, so I believe they are fair game, along the lines of those people who are shamed for unlawfully parking in spaces designated for disabled drivers on The Blue Spot Facebook page.

However, I would offer a caveat about comments. The internet is the Wild West of opinions but people can be sued for comments on social media — which is a whole other subject.

Just to cover all the bases, though, I also contacted the Human Rights Commission (HRC). While an official there said they cannot offer legal advice on the situation posed, they did point out that the rights contained in the Cayman Islands Constitution only apply “vertically”, which means that it applies in regards to the government or public officials, not to other private citizens or entities.

Therefore, the HRC official said, “there are unlikely to be any human rights concerns engaged in the situation that your questioner identifies”.

Now, here’s my take: Having more than once experienced difficulty finding a spot due to the blatant disregard of parking etiquette along with the selfishness of some drivers, I don’t have an issue with those photos being posted. To be clear, I am not talking about criticising someone for just being an inch over the line.

My advice (and I am hoping you are not one of those miscreants) is simple: if people don’t want to find a photo of their car amongst others posted on “Cayman’s worst parking” page, then park properly.

The law mentioned in this column can be found on the CNS Library


Category: Ask Auntie

Comments (9)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes, they are selfish scumbags. Their feelings and false outrage matter not.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s unhealthy to get so wound up about something so unimportant. I also doubt whether anyone is all that ashamed, so what’s the point?

  3. Anonymous says:

    A picture can be worth a thousand words , but say something completely different to different people.What I am saying that each of us may look at a picture and each one of us reach a different conclusion as to the context of that picture being taken.As an extreme example ; a picture may be posted of a vehicle that is badly parked and everyone assumes that the driver was just inconsiderate when in fact the opposite may be the case.Let’s say that a driver is searching for a parking spot when he spots a small child wandering in the parking lot and in danger of being hit. The situation calls for swift action so the driver stops his car right where he is and jumps out to grab the child and take them to safety. Meanwhile someone sees a car badly parked, and without knowing the true story of the badly parked car captures a photo and submits it to this web page. The Good Samaritan who probably just saved a kid’s life is treated like a criminal rather than a hero, just because someone was so anxious to shame someone else that they did not bother to get the facts, and of course others also comment, again without knowing the full context of that photo My suggestion : before submitting or commenting on a photo be sure that you know the whole story.Things are not always what they appear to be.

    • Anonymous says:

      My suggestion, shut up.

      • Anonymous says:

        8.13am I guess the old brain went on overdrive to come up with such a great answer .

    • Anonymous says:

      while I agree it happens I have been to too many places where i see drivers go and park in handicap spots or just display bad parking

  4. Anonymous says:

    can the police use any of those photos to charge these drivers?

  5. Anonymous says:

    You would Hope it would be obvious to any considerate, law abiding citizen not to park with such willful disregard for others in a selfish manner that oozes entitlement, but, as I say, you can only Hope…

    • Anonymous says:

      Fully agree with this comment, but while the FB postings of bad parking behaviour illustrate such disregard, that is really all that is being achieved….illustrating it . Most of those people couldn’t care less that their vehicles and license plate numbers ( where they could even be bothered to mount said plate ) are in plain view for social media viewers , I have to somewhat question the admirable effort involved of law abiding citizens posting photo’s and remarks, where very little is being done to enforce traffic laws, in this regard. To expand , most road and traffic authorities have a system in place that penalises parking infractions as a means of generating tax revenue, as well as discouraging continuation of the practice of breaking the law. Usually by a demerit point system that, if disregarded by the driver , will result in loss of their driving license. When the Police park as bad, run red lights , almost mow down pedestrians on zebra crossings in GT ( I witnessed this week ), as well as speeding / driving unsafely, as well as un-necessarily, until the Commissioner of the Police force clamps down on his own staff breaking the law , don’t berate the general public for parking on a yellow line.