Because when you don't, it becomes impossible to document the 70ish man on the Metro North casually thumbing through gay pornography during rush hour.
I'd like to think of this moment less as a first amendment issue, clearly any and all persons have the right to look at as much gay porn as is possible, and more as an etiquette issue. Leaving aside, for now, that I would have been ejected from the train for going without a shirt while this man could look at pictures of men without pants and no one seemed to be in a tizzy, I would say that pornography, like cellphone arguments, singing along with your iPod, spitting, cutting your fingernails, and examining what you just picked from your nose are at-home activities.
Now I would wager that this particular individual was hoping dearly that someone would notice him - you don't just look at porn in public for no good reason and my contention is that he gets off on people knowing he's looking at porn in public. Still, I couldn't shake the feeling that, by not alerting the conductor, I was somehow shirking a civic duty. Had he been sitting near anyone under the age of eighteen, I definitely would have gotten the conductor - because while I'm not a 'won't somebody please think of the children' kind of person, my guess is that any child would feel both extremely uncomfortable and paralyzed to act.
While in Portland, I came to the alarming (for a registered Democrat) discovery that to date, I have only ever voted for Republican mayoral candidates. Sadly, Giuliani left office on a one-way ticket to Crazytown, but that doesn't mean I didn't like him at the time - predominantly because he too seemed to value basic etiquette and was in the position to defend his position with a truncheon. While Mayor Mike and I certainly didn't see eye-to-eye on the whole no-smoking-near-anything crusade, I DO like that he felt he could do it. Smoking was his squeegee man.
But to rein myself in a little (sort of), I would say that I would be happier if we could deputize our Metro North conductors. The smile that breaks over my face when I overhear one of them telling a passenger to get his dirty feet off the seat borders on the indecent. These guys have to put up with all manner of things and it appears that, short of fare-dodging and public vomiting, they have little enforcement capability. Also, the pictures of that enforcement would be priceless!
2 weeks ago