Be Polite or Else: New York to Enforce Criminal Penalties on Yielding Seats on the Subway

180px-Helsinki_Metro_train_interiorThere has been a steading criminalization of bad conduct in the United States, as discussed in earlier columns. We can add the New York subways push to force people to give up their seats to the elderly and disabled — or face a potential 10 day jail term.

Once again, the motive behind the criminalization of rude conduct is commendable. However, legislators now assume that unless their laws have a criminal component, they are not serious.

The criminal penalties are nothing new, but the new campaign suggests that there is going to be a more aggressive crackdown on criminal rudeness.

For the full story, click here.

12 thoughts on “Be Polite or Else: New York to Enforce Criminal Penalties on Yielding Seats on the Subway”

  1. Instead of penalizing bad behaviour, could the cops or stewards maybe turn it around and start passing out bonuses for people that DO give up their seats to the elderly?

    Sometimes I think the whole world is retarded, at other times I just know it is.

  2. GW MOM,

    When they made possession of tobacco by a minor in Michigan sufficient to justify the denial of a drivers licenses, I realized that the people have truly lost control of the system. Or possession of Marijuana in a park, reason sufficient to take away an adults drivers licenses equally as crazy. I ask what the two have in common.

    Can you really legislate morality or common sense?

  3. when we criminalize the small stuff it makes it seem as if we care about criminalizing the big stuff which we apparently are not all that interested in doing as much as providing a smoke screen for.
    do our police have nothing better to do that be hall monitors on public transportation to enforce rules our parents ought to have taught us?

  4. Rain,
    That is a great question and one that I wonder about. I am legally/clinically disabled and before moving from NYC would occasionally sit in handicapped seats on the subway. I look healthy though and walk and talk as if I’m healthy. I always tried to imagine what I would say to a Police Officer who asked me why I was sitting, where it would look like I shouldn’t be?

  5. What if there is someone without sound judgement as to who is old or disabled, but otherwise may look “normal” to an arresting officer? This law is absurd. Rather than enforcing morality, society needs to be changed in ways that there be a willingness in individuals to be socially responsible.

  6. Mike,

    “To my way of thinking the society shouldn’t be passing laws it is not prepared to or able to enforce. This is what leads to the multitude of stories on people’s victimization that JT posts.”

    We are in agreement. Given how I feel about the Declaration and our beloved Mr. Jefferson though, I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you.

  7. Buddha,
    Your original remarks weren’t taken by me as offensive and to be honest with you I am not a particular defender or denigrater of NYC. It is what it is, a large City, with a highly diverse population and a multitude of problems and blessings.

    I’ve spent on 3 different occasions, the last 5 years ago, a week each time in St.Louis. I have different memories good and bad of each particular visit. That is the way of City’s and their visitors. As a former lifelong NY’er (61 years), one who worked in a “field job” for many years; lived in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens for significant periods and of course traveled in all Boroughs; I can’t say that I’m expert on it.
    Such is the nature of large cities everywhere.

    Your take on this in your original post and its’ followup re:
    selective enforcement is on point. What angers me about this law and others of a similar ilk is the “selective enforcement” reality. To my way of thinking the society shouldn’t be passing laws it is not prepared to or able to enforce. This is what leads to the multitude of stories on people’s victimization that JT posts.

    To wit: if a kid could get 20 years in a Texas Prison for smoking the same joint that might get him a ticket in NY State, something smells about the whole system. As much as I love him, how in hell does Willie Nelson, a Texas resident stay out of jail? Selective enforcement, which leads to police/prosecutorial prejudicial/preferential treatment.

  8. Mike S.,

    After reading your post, it became clear I may have implied the enforcement wouldn’t work because of New Yorkers obnoxious behavior when the truth is as you state it: enforcement will be selective at best as a matter of sheer mathematics. It was like when the highway speed limits were being adjusted here in KC, people in the office I was in at that time were all in a tizzy about tickets. “The cops are going to out in force! blah blah blah”. So I asked them, “Has anything changed since yesterday concerning the police other than the speed limit change?” I got mixed answers but the truth was that nothing had changed in their ability to physically enforce the law. The percentage of speeders apprehended out of the entire driving population would remain approximately the same as it is constrained by the total number of officers.

    The times I have been to NYC, I have found the people far more agreeable than Dallas (sorry AY), New Orleans or LA. But there sure are a lot of ’em.

  9. I lived in NYC from birth until 4 years ago and I used the subway daily during workdays. This is one of those silly laws whose enforcement will be situationally selective. There just is not that much presence of police on subway cars. People with obvious disabilities did get seats for the most part since NY’ers are not the impolite boors they’re portrayed as.

    More important at the end of the original article is the 10% raise in the cost of suburban commuter tickets. I can remember
    the first of the month approaching and not having the funds to pay for my Long Island Railroad monthly. I was an executive at the time, but working for the City didn’t pay well. I shudder to think of what people in this depressed time will face as their fares rise once again.

  10. If they can master this feat, why don’ they then go to Mexico City and try and get drivers to drive in the lanes. Only place I have been that a 5 lane hwy (10 both sides) turn into 14. It was some crazy stuff.

  11. Have any of these people suggesting a “crackdown” ever actually been to NYC?

    Good luck with that.

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