New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is pushing a plan to decriminalize public urination, turnstile-jumping and public drinking. This is a superb example of ideology trumping the lessons of history, anthropology, law, psychology and common sense. Liberals have never forgiven Rudy Giuliani for adopting the lessons of the “broken windows” theory to clean up Times Square, thus showing why it is important, effective and responsible for government to insist on ethical conduct and have its laws reflect those values.
Using the tragic death of Eric Garner in an arrest for a petty crime as her justification, Mark-Viverito appears to believe that criminalizing minor crimes like public urination leads to pretext police stops, arrests and searches. What she stubbornly refuses to understand is that the government declaring that certain conduct is unacceptable is essential to ensuring that such conduct, and eventually, worse conduct, isn’t accepted, and that enforcement of laws with meaningful penalties is crucial to limiting the spread of unhealthy, ugly, harmful or uncivilized behavior. If the City Council wants human excrement and waste to be a regular component of the New York experience, this is one way to guarantee it—by sending the message that “It’s rude, but it’s not that wrong and we’re not going to make a big deal out of it.” The message of allowing turnstile cheats to get away with a citation—which they will never pay, of course—is that small thefts don’t matter either. Cheats and crooks can reliably be expected to see how much they can get away with stealing without real punishment, and the Mark-Viveritos in our various governments can be counted on to keep letting the standards slide.
Oh yes, she is not the only one. They are legion.
The amazing thing is that we all saw where her approach led in the Seventies. New York City became filthy and dangerous, tourists and business started to stay away, crime exploded and people died. It will lead there again, too. This is the inevitable result when elected officials regard their primary duty as serving the interests of law-breakers and the habitually unethical rather than honest, fair, responsible citizens.
Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur
Facts: New York Post
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