New York City Police are cracking down on those guys bouncing around in the subway to loud music in the hopes of earning some spare change. Guess they had find something to do now that they can't go around slapping Big Gulps out of people's hands. From the Associated Press:
Police Commissioner William Bratton acknowledges he is targeting subway acrobats as part of his embrace of the "broken windows" theory of policing — that low-grade lawlessness can cultivate a greater sense of disorder and embolden more dangerous offenders.
"Is it a significant crime? Certainly not," Bratton said recently. But the question is, he added, "Does it have the potential both for creating a level of fear as well as a level of risk that you want to deal with?"
Ah yes, the "broken windows" theory of policing, which also happens to celebrate the pursuit of the easy, low-hanging fruit by officers, but I'm sure that's just a coincidence. The problem with using the "broken windows" theory here is when you apply it to a law whose existence serves to attempt to stamp out behavior that some people don't like, not because of behavior that actually victimizes others. The Baptists believed dancing led to sex, not assault and battery. "Potential" for fear or risk is not actual crime. What the crackdown ultimately ends up highlighting is that everything in New York City is illegal, therefore the "broken windows" argument is problematic anyway (and let's not forget that the New York Police Department has had its own "broken windows" problems with constantly violating constitutional law with its stop-and-frisk pursuits). Business Insider notes that this new round of arrests also coincides with a spike in arrests for panhandling and street peddling.
This is not to say that people should be thrilled to have their daily commutes constantly interrupted by some guy doing somersaults, but it's not the role of the law to save us from inconvenience and petty annoyances. If a dancer does inadvertently hurt someone, then that certainly may call for legal remedies. But the police action here, like hauling in panhandlers, is an example of using the law to punish behavior people simply don't want to be exposed to.
And now, an example of subway dancing awesomeness: