November 16, 2011, 6:18 PM — Next Tuesday will be the 48th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as his motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza in Dallas.
It was a traumatizing event for the United States, and whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone is hotly debated to this day.
But as I was reading Wednesday about how a reel-to-reel audio recording made aboard Air Force One immediately following the shooting is being offered for sale for $500,000, I began thinking about the vast advances in technology over the past half century.
Which made me wonder: Could that fateful Dealey Plaza shooting even happen in today's world of mobile recording/communications devices and social media?
Imagine not hundreds of people gathering along either side of Elm Street to watch the president pass by, but hundreds of Abraham Zapruders with smartphones, shooting pictures and videos and posting them -- along with their personal observations -- to Twitter and Facebook.
Oh, and let's add in the corporate video surveillance systems that are commonplace now.
Would a potential assassin even attempt such a brazen, high-profile and dangerous act in such a recordable-ready situation?
If he were emotionally or psychologically unstable -- think Jared Lee Loughner, the guy charged with shooting U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords last January -- he just might. (And, of course, Loughner did attempt a political assassination in the mobile/social age, though it was at congressional constituents' meeting at an Arizona supermarket, not in the middle of a presidential motorcade environment teeming with Secret Service.)
A more rational would-be assassin, though, probably wouldn't take the chance in a modern-day Dealey Plaza.
Let's say the assassination attempt was carried out anyway. Would it still be a mystery whether Oswald acted alone if there were a dozen different smartphone videos of the "grassy knoll" or "triple underpass" making the rounds on YouTube? It seems less likely, but sometimes nothing can snuff out a compelling conspiracy theory.
So could Dealey Plaza happen today? I'd love to hear some readers' opinions. Feel free to weigh in with a comment.