Crime Wave Backwash


New at Reason: Time was when you could count on a blackout to bring out the panicked xenophobe, trigger-happy vigilante or gangbanging Grammercy Riff inside every self-respecting New Yorker. What does yesterday's outbreak of lawfulness mean for America? Nick Gillespie grabs a trashcan and hammers away at the problem.

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  1. In contrast, there was widespread looting in Ottawa. The end is near.

  2. Re: looting in Ottawa — I saw someone somewhere say “let’s see Michael Moore explain THAT one!”

    Also, I’d just like to note that part of my wacky 1970s California public-school education included reading the *teleplay* of The Monsters Were Due on Maple Street in fifth grade, and discussing the real-world implications. Come to think of it, that probably happened soon after the 1977 blackout riots….

  3. I think you’re discounting the social changes that have occured in the city since then. The 90s changed the perception of what was normal, acceptable behavior. And 9-11 created a “crisis culture.” People unsure of how to behave in an unfamiliar situation around to see what seems to be normal behavior. This time, they were getting back different signals.

  4. I’m sick of this non-story. The power went out in the daytime, stranding hundreds of thousands of wage-earning, law-abiding, people in the city. In no way comparable to the “creatures of the night” that prowled the relatively empty and alarm free streets in 77. I can’t believe how much play is being given to the “kind, courteous, family like behavior of New Yorkers”. How nauseating can you get? Why should anyone be surprised by the fact that criminals chose not to commit crimes in front of large crowds, and everybody decided to wait out the inevitable with resigned acceptance instead of engaging in pointless aggression aimed at fellow victims. Shame on you Nick, for proliferating this feel good fluff. I bet you own every album Barry Manilow ever made.

  5. Admittedly, this was an enormous power outage affecting many people, including me up in Ithaca. However, it’s not like power outages are that uncommon. The one I went through in Durham, NC after Hurricane Fran was much worse than this. Again, people were perfectly orderly there as well.

  6. Ouch! Warren, that Manilow comment was truly below the belt. While watching the non-news yesterday I saw two different guys flip the bird at the camera, so things may have changed, but at least they’re still New Yorkers.

  7. I own Greatest Hits I and II, and also a live album. I still maintain that “Could This Be the Magic?” ranks right up there with “Brigde Over Troubled Water” as one of the best songs ever about heroin.

  8. The blackouts started during the day, but continued through the night, until the morning hours. There was plenty of opportunity for mischief.

    Nice slam on city folk Warren. Good thing those morally superior suburbanites were there. Do you walk through the city with 9-1 dialed on your cell phone?

  9. The answer is simple – we’ve arrested most of the criminal class in the last 10-15 years. If you don’t have criminals around, you don’t have crime.

    Hey Joe – look at some crime stats; there’s a reason people think the suburbs are safer – it is because they are…

  10. Twist,
    You’re probably right. Nick, I apologize for disparaging your music collection.

    My point is that the city was packed with the hard (and not so hard) working folks. A much different, and much bigger, crowd than you would normally find downtown at night. So no, there wasn’t plenty of opportunity for mischief. I didn’t intend my remarks to be a slam on city folk. But yes, I don’t like big cities. Are you really suggesting that it’s just as safe at night as in the burbs?

  11. Nick said…
    “where it might have started (Ohio, the state that delusionally dubs itself ‘the Heart of It All,’ is the leading candidate as of this writing)”

    Funny that the analogy of a heart should be delusional. Students studying electricity are often told to think of current as “flow”.

    Often water is used to explain concepts, though in many cases the human circulatory system is an even better analogy (and conductor).

    If a circulation problem began in Ohio, we might as well have been “the Heart-attack of it All”.

    Unfortunately, your slogan info is quite old. Our slogan is now “Ohio… So much to Discover!” (like why your power went out for example). We’ve had this slogan since March of 2001.

    Our license plate slogan has been “Birthplace of Aviation” since 1996.

  12. Reasonable theory, Parson. Of course, there also weren’t cameras everywhere in 1965. That, I suppose, was just different.

  13. There is nothing wrong with pointing out good news, and the behavior of New Yorkers during the Black-out was good.
    On CNN, Aaron Brown did mention that there was an outbreak of lawlessness in NYC – then he noted that Bartenders were refusing to enforce the ban on cigarette smoking.

  14. C’mon people! Use your head. There were NO CAMERAS EVERYWHERE in 1977.

    Looters may be assorted scum, but they aren’t stupid. They keep up with trends in the news, and they are well aware of the current ubiquity of spy cams.

    It ain’t “socialization” that changed criminal behavior. It’s technology.

  15. No need to get smart about it, John Thacker. I just picked ONE of those dates in response to Matt’s post (2nd from top) where he mentions 1977.

    But of course the same held true for 1965. Duh!

    My mentioning any kind of timeframe was meant to be historically all-inclusive. You could’ve just been your usual charitable self and simply said, “Reasonable theory, Parson. Excellent thinking! Good job!” . . . and left it at that.

    But no! Sarcasm had to prevail, n’est pas?

    Shame on you.

  16. Um, many of those security cameras ARE battery powered or have battery-power backups, Mr. Kilowatt. (Besides, most looters don’t know the difference.)

    Mentioning the cameras was a SMART idea indeed.

    Thanks for the compliment.

  17. Being someone who made it from 31st street to my north bronx home, I have to say that everyone was very polite, much like 9/11.

    It was NOT due to a police presence, of which there was none, except for a couple of cops whp were chatting with pretty girls in the insanity that was the east 40s that day. The only cops I even saw at intersections were not there until 6:30 or later.

    Actually, the courtesy shown by cabbies, bus drivers and privater citizens was the biggest surpirse I had that day. Who would have thought they knew how to take turns!

  18. You’re not talking about NEW YORK!, are you?

  19. There was NOT widespread looting in Ottawa. How could there be? There’s no there, there. If you catch my meaning. Most of what I saw on CNN regarding S. Ontario (where I live), bore little if any resemblance to what was actually happening.

  20. Bakker, aren’t you glad the “Blame Canada” frenzy is over?

  21. Fix the HTML in the Nick’s article.

    It seems to say:

    Indeed, the iconic ’70s Manhattan-based sitcom Escape from New York was titled that way for a reason?one that no longer makes sense.

    But the source shows that it was really talking about The Odd Couple first, and a missing quote in the anchor tag prevented some of the text from getting rendered.

  22. Uh, Parson…

    Those cameras and, more importantly, the video recorders and monitors they must be connected to (before you smart off about some security cameras maybe sorta being battery powered somewhere — no recording, no evidence) are powered by electricity.

  23. It is? Someone forgot to tell Bloomberg. Maybe Springer did it.

  24. “C’mon people! Use your head. There were NO CAMERAS EVERYWHERE in 1977.”

    How many of those cameras would have been working during the blackout?

  25. “How many of those cameras would have been working during the blackout?”

    ALL OF THOSE that were battery powered or that had generator backups.

  26. NO contest. The 2003 Blackout had less to do with time of day, and NOTHING to do with Communication advances since 1977 ( as Nick Gillespie suggests) and everything to do with the difference between the 1977 NYPD and the 2003 NYPD. Details at REX STETSON: ARMCHAIR VIGILANTE!
    Click on the Name to Visit the Blog and Read The Truth THEY Don’t Want You TO Hear!!!

  27. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/20/2004 01:29:46
    You know what’s interesting about Washington? It’s the kind of place where second-guessing has become second nature.

  28. EMAIL:
    DATE: 05/21/2004 02:40:26
    The professor makes the syllabus, not you.

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