Your Move, Chicago

The latest in Nanny State inanity:

A state senator from Brooklyn said on Tuesday he plans to introduce legislation that would ban people from using an MP3 player, cell phone, Blackberry or any other electronic device while crossing the street in either New York City or Buffalo.

NewsChannel 4 reported that Sen. Carl Kruger is proposing the ban in response to two recent pedestrian deaths in his district, including a 23-year-old man who was struck and killed last month while listening to his iPod on Avenue T and East 71st Street In Bergen Beach.

"While people are tuning into their iPods and cell phones, they're tuning out the world around them," Kruger said. The proposed law would make talking on cell phones while crossing the street a comparable offense to jaywalking.

Meanwhile, D.C. may soon join the "no smoking with kids in the car" brigades.

Nick Gillespie ranted about how the City of Broad Shoulders has gone weak-in-the-knees in our November issue .

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  • Dan T.||

    While it seems to be a Reason editorial policy that the term "nanny state" must be included in every other H&R post, I'm not sure that the regulation of pedestrian and car traffic on the public roads qualifies. Even if this does seem to be a kind of nitpicky law.

  • Jennifer||

    To be closely followed by the "no daydreaming while crossing the street" law.

  • ||

    "...two recent pedestrian deaths in his district, including a 23-year-old man who was struck and killed last month while listening to his iPod on Avenue T and East 71st Street In Bergen Beach."

    The primary cause of death among humans is stupidity. Preventing stupid people from removing themselves from the gene pool, even if possible, is probably not beneficial in the long term.

  • ||

    How long before there is no crossing of the street under any circumstances?

  • Christopher Monnier||

    > the regulation of pedestrian and car traffic...

    This isn't the regulation of traffic; this is the regulation of human behavior.

    How long will it be (is it already a law??) until some legisavior proposes a law banning listening to an iPod while driving? Or while kids are present!?

  • ||

    Is there any evidence that the iPod contributed to the accident? Given the prevalence, isn't it inevitable that some fraction of victims will be wearing an iPod?

  • thoreau||

    Good point, bubba.

    This just calls for a "Why did the councilman cross the road?" joke.

  • Dan T.||

    Since there seems to be an H&R drinking game out there, how many shots should be taken for a "How long before..." slippery slope response?

  • ||

    Ahhh iPods. Nothing says "Cult-of-Apple-I-love-Steve-Jobs-but-don't-call-me-consumerist" than a shiny iPod worn everywhere.

  • Graphite||

    Dan T., that would be worth adding to the game if it weren't for the sad fact that every one of those slippery slope scenarios eventually comes to pass somewhere thanks to busybodies like yourself. Cf. the ban on food advertising.

  • ||

    How long will it be (is it already a law??) until some legisavior proposes a law banning listening to an iPod while driving?

    You can't wear headphones while driving, because you won't hear emergency sirens, other cars honking, etc. I don't know if the law is specific to headphones, or if it just falls under general recklessness.

  • Graphite||

    BTW, yesterday Steve Jobs called for the removal of DRM from music sold online and promised that if such a scheme came to pass Apple would allow music from rival vendors to be played on its iPods. I haven't been a fan of Apple's amazing strides toward online content monopolization, but my respect for him and his company went way up with that announcement.

  • Jennifer||

    By the way, Connecticut also plans to add itself to the "no smoking with kids in the car" club. If the law passes, I plan to resume smoking, install a child seat in my car and buckle in a realistic-looking baby doll with a name like "Polly Pukes-a-Lot."

  • ||

    While it seems to be a Reason editorial policy that the term "nanny state" must be included in every other H&R post, I'm not sure that the regulation of pedestrian and car traffic on the public roads qualifies.

    Any regulation whose primary motivation is to protect people from themselves is a "nanny state" regulation.

  • Christopher Monnier||

    > You can't wear headphones while driving, because you won't hear emergency sirens...

    Are deaf people allowed to drive?

  • ed||

    Isn't this just natural selection at work? I'd like to see more of it. Not on the hood of my car, mind you. Busses and things. Subway cars. That kind of thing.

  • Dan T.||

    Dan T., that would be worth adding to the game if it weren't for the sad fact that every one of those slippery slope scenarios eventually comes to pass somewhere thanks to busybodies like yourself. Cf. the ban on food advertising.

    Not really - American society in general is much freer than it's ever been. There are all sorts of things that we can do now that couldn't be done in the past.

  • ||

    Wow, this is only about 25 years after the ubiquity of the Walkman.

    The whole point is to tune out the world around you. How else are you gonna hear Big Brother?

  • Sam Franklin||

    Any regulation whose primary motivation is to protect people from themselves is a "nanny state" regulation.

    Wow, this is mixed feelings time for me.

    I am managing to keep my weight down primarly because I can walk around the city with an mp3 player on.

    On the other hand:

    However, I also drive. If kill one less pedestrian with my car because of this law it will be worth it to me.

    Ultimately:

    I think the problem is jaywalking, rather than the mp3 players. they should enforce existing jaywalking laws better. (esp at 15th & Guerrero and Queen & Lansdowne).

    If I had a decent mp3 player docking interface built into my car, I would be a safer driver.

  • ||

    > Are deaf people allowed to drive?

    Should deaf people be allowed to cross the street in Buffalo and New York City?

    And when will Sen. Kruger do something about the daily iPod-related carnage in Poughkeepsie and Schenectady?

  • ||

    "If [I] kill one less pedestrian with my car because of this law it will be worth it to me."

    The sad, sorry justification for nearly every single abatement of our freedoms, embodied in that statement. Think of all the lives we could save if...we just outlawed cars! If we saved just one life, it'd be worth it...because saving lives is all the government exists for.

    Death is sad, but it's an unfortunate side-effect of life.

  • Warren||

    ...the sad fact that every one of those slippery slope scenarios eventually comes to pass ...

    Not really - American society in general is much freer than it's ever been. There are all sorts of things that we can do now that couldn't be done in the past.


    The two statements are not mutually exclusive. We do enjoy many more opportunities than ever before. We are also more regulated than ever before. Much of that regulation is of the overly-burdensome capricious variety.

  • ||

    However, I also drive. If [I] kill one less pedestrian with my car because of this law it will be worth it to me.

    One less? How many have you killed so far? How many do you think you will kill if this law doesn't pass?

  • Sam Franklin||

    The sad, sorry justification for nearly every single abatement of our freedoms, embodied in that statement.

    It is also the same justification for the jaywalking laws (which I am proposing as an alternative to this new law).

    Do you find the justification to be sad and sorry in the case of the jaywalking laws?

    Do we need to take down all the stop signs? (that is what my High School English teacher said that libertarians are pereceived as wanting to do)

  • ||

    However, I also drive. If kill one less pedestrian with my car because of this law it will be worth it to me.

    One less than zero? What if you make one more pedestrian with your car? Will your insurance company have anything to say? Will their be a feamle in the back seat when it happens? Questions, questions!

  • ||

    I await the law banning not paying close enough attention. Conundrums galore to come.

  • Christopher Monnier||

    > Do we need to take down all the stop signs?

    They've started doing this in some small European towns:

    http://www.newstarget.com/021164.html

    American roadways and sidewalks are overregulated. Thankfully America seems to be [finally] discovering the benefits of roundabouts (regulated only with yield signs) as opposed to overly-massive stoplight intersections with red left turn arrows and long lines.

  • Sam franklin||

    Wonder how the pedestrian iPod casualties compare to the number of pedestrians killed by police cars in police chases.

    Oh yeah, not this Christmas time, but Christmastime before last, a woman, listening to headphones, was killed a couple hundred yards from my aprtament in a mall parking lot by a (small, pickup truck style) snowplow travelling in reverse, clearing the lot in the middle of a snow storm. Presumably the plow was not driving that fast. Now, when I walk through that lot, with my headphones going, my head constantly spins around like something out of the Exorcist until I am back on sidewalk. By all accounts the plow driver was very, very, very distraught at the scene of the accident. Worse than most ppl get in these situations, according to the media accounts at the time.

  • Dan T.||

    We are also more regulated than ever before. Much of that regulation is of the overly-burdensome capricious variety.

    That's a common meme around here yet today's outrage is the possibility that two cities in America might make crossing intersections while wearing certain devices a minor offense. So it's hard to imagine that things are so awful when this is the best example of "nanny state inanity" that anybody can find.

  • Christopher Monnier||

    > when this is the best example of "nanny state inanity"...

    Are you trying to provoke an avalanche of response? Read the Hit & Run archives for the last week (or pick any week, really) and you'll find myriad examples of nanny state inanity far worse than this. And I don't consider this (the iPod ban) to be that minor.

  • ||

    Dan T.,

    I'll bite.
    Each little "nanny state" action by itself does not destroy our freedom. The problem we face is a cumulative effect. Eventually, libertarians and other freedom lovers fear, every little action we take will be regulated. Every time we lament a little loss, you and others say, "what's the big deal? It's only one small regulation." How much is too much?

  • Jennifer||

    If you're walking down the street with a friend and the two of you are chatting, will you and your friend be allowed to talk while you cross the street, or will you have to cross in silence and put your conversation on hold until you get to the other side? Talking to a friend who's right there next to you is no less distracting than talking to a friend on a cell phone.

    Actually, talking to someone in real life can be more distracting than talking on a cell phone, because common courtesy demands you look at the person you're talking to, which makes you more likely to not see a car heading your way. At least with a cell phone there's no breach of etiquette performed when you look everywhere EXCEPT at the person to whom you speak.

  • ||

    Nope, no slippery slope here. Just move along.

  • ||

    Jennifer:

    I like your fake baby ruse, but I think you should also put a cigarette (or better yet, a rolled up "joint" tobacco cig) in the doll's mouth.

    When the cops pull you over, just claim that the childseat/doll setup is just a fancy incense burner.

  • ||

    Matt L | February 7, 2007, 11:49am | #

    "However, I also drive. If [I] kill one less pedestrian with my car because of this law it will be worth it to me."
    One less? How many have you killed so far? How many do you think you will kill if this law doesn't pass?



    LOL good point, Matt L. Just how many people have you killed with your car, Sam?


    This kind of ridiculous legislation is incredibly restrictive for those of us who:

    1.) have good judgement
    2.) have good coordination

    Enough said.

  • ||

    The question is whether those pedestrians deaths were caused by their being distracted by iPods or Sam's reflexes being gummed up with corn syrup.

  • Jennifer||

    I like your fake baby ruse

    Thank you, Mr. Nice Guy. Do you think I'd be overdoing it if I got a "baby on board" sign, too?

  • ||

    So that's the deal, eh? You treat Dan T. like he's a serious commenter and he ignores you. Treat him like he's an contemptible ass and he responds. Fair enough. I've learned my lesson.

  • ||

    Is this really some sort of epidemic in New York? People getting mowed down in the streets because they are wearing iPods? Is it like that game Grand Theft Auto?

  • Andy||

    CNN has this story up on the main page right now, with a great quote from a New York State Senator.

    "Government has an obligation to protect its citizenry," Kruger said in a telephone interview from Albany, the state capital.

    Can't you almost feel where that sentence was going when it cut off? In fact, allow me...

    Government has an obligation to protect its citizenry... even when it's from something that they like. And that poses no real danger to a sensible person. And when they don't want us to. Basically, we just get off on telling people what to do. " Kruger said in a telephone interview from Albany, the state capital.

  • ||

    What about people in Syracuse? Don't they deserve to be protected from themselves?

  • Rhywun||

    The proposed law would make talking on cell phones while crossing the street a comparable offense to jaywalking.

    In other words, it will be totally ignored except when the cops need to fill out their ticket quota at the end of the month.

    The article says nothing about whether the dead people were jaywalking. Seeing as that little detail is kind of required in order to determine who was at fault, I find it a little perplexing it was left out.

    Ahhh iPods. Nothing says "Cult-of-Apple-I-love-Steve-Jobs-but-don't-call-me-consumerist" than a shiny iPod worn everywhere.

    Whatever. In my case, it says "I-tried-two-other-players-and-they-were-both-crap-so-I-might-as-well-spend-the-extra-money-and-get-the-best-player".

  • Sam B||

    Don't forget about Rochester, Albany and Binghampton Orangeman.

  • Rhywun||

    And Ithaca, Jamestown, Glens Falls, Potsdam, Cortland, Canton, Cuba, Troy, Ilion, Rotterdam, Little Falls, Batavia, Mumford, Riverhead, Amityville, Massapequa, Colden, Amherst, and Cheektowaga. Hey, this is fun. I could go on all day.

  • Jennifer||

    Don't forget Poughkeepsie! I have some very good friends who live there.

  • ||

    Meh, I've been to Syracuse.
    For that matter, New Yorkers can bite it too.
    Cooperstown was all right.

  • ed||

    What about people in Syracuse? etc.

    You all forgot Watertown.
    "The Garland City."
    "Metropolis of The North Country."
    My home town.
    Now a sad wreck.
    People are walking in front of moving cars intentionally.

  • ||

    -Wait, haven't headphones been around for over 20 years. Why now??
    -If these two deaths are caused by someone walking across the street and not paying attention why should anyone else who uses headphones be affected? Were their eyes closed? Did they not realized they were crossing the street and a possible metal machine with wheels and engine could hit them?
    -Come on now!! Didn't mother teach us to look both ways when crossing the street?
    -Every time something new comes to the scene there is always a new law that tells us how far we can take it...
    -Fight Control!! And enjoy the next song!

  • ||

    There aren't enough Nutrition and Safety Inspectors (NASIs) to prevent all these horrible deaths. We have a crisis. Let's start drafting young people into the NASIs.

  • VM||

    Watertown is paradise compared with Malone...

    Ogdensburg and Gouveneur, too. Canton isn't that bad, but SUNY Siberia in Potsdam is a nightmare!

    :)

  • ||

    There are still people left to cross the street in Buffalo?

    News to me.

  • poons||

    The offence of jaywalking is already a mystery to those of us on the right (directionally speaking) side of the pond.
    To take it to this extra sillyness is, well, silly.
    They should turn there attention to this sort of behaviour - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/north_yorkshire/3726722.stm

  • ed||

    I still say iPod-wearing jaywalkers who get squished are, in the long run, beneficial to the survival of the species. Cull the herd. Remove the imbeciles. Less hip hop being absorbed. Everybody wins.

  • Sam B||

    I work in Amherst. Calling it a "city" is a serious misnomer.

  • Baylen Linnekin||

    Maybe NYC can do something about chickens. Those fuckers are always crossing the damn road. Everyone jokes about it, but I find it problematic.

  • ||

    Forget about the iPod, I wouldn't want to cross a street in Buffalo without a bulletproof vest.

  • ||

    Has anyone mentioned Yonkers yet? I had a friend in high school who came from there.

    I think it has a funny name. Yonkers, Yonkers, Yonkers ...

    It sounds like a word that means "term for geese that masturbate."

  • ||

    Yonkers is a great name, but nothing can touch Speonk.

    There's also a Downsville, which I've passed threw a few times. To my then-adolescent mind, it seemed like it should have been to "beatniks" what Woodstock was to the hippies.

    I believe that NYC and Buffalo were selected for this honor due to some quirk in state law that allows the Legislature to make certain blanket rules for cities of a certain size, or larger. If it were to be a matter for the Big Apple only, I think that State Sen. Kruger would have had to demur to the City Council. I haven't lived in New York State for some time, so I could be wr...wrr....wrrr... - what Fonzi said that one time.

    Kevin

  • Larry A||

    If they really want to keep people from being distracted they should make women wear long robes and hoods over their faces.

  • Rhywun||

    I work in Amherst. Calling it a "city" is a serious misnomer.

    True. And it regularly appears as the #1 safest "city" in America, with no indication that it's actually Buffalo's wealthiest suburb.

    SUNY Siberia in Potsdam is a nightmare

    Heh. I spent a few days visiting there when my older brother was in college (I was 12). Had a blast. But if you're looking for a North Country dump, try Tupper Lake *shudder*.

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