There are few things that a Democratic state legislature can’t write a new law about.
Now, the New York Senate is working on a new statute to ban texting while walking. Unfortunately, New York is not the first United States locality seeking to subvert Darwin’s survival of the fittest law.
As in Hawaii and some municipalities in, of course, California, it would impose fines between $25 and $250 on people for texting, browsing online, emailing or playing games on their cellphone while in a crosswalk.
Because obviously New York has no crime anymore and no serious wrongdoing that hasn’t already been addressed by authoriuties, police or parking cops will have plenty of time to watch the hands of everyone using a crosswalk in a state with about 39 million hands.
Of course, on paper such a rule might make sense. But is it government’s role to fight crime or combat select individual’s lack of common sense? And what about the impact on YouTube where, a friend informs me, many people go for repeated guffaws watching cellphone users walk into light-poles and water fountains?
“If they’re going to get killed crossing the street not paying attention,” said Lyles Press, “that’s their fault. I don’t see why you need to legislate common sense.”
The bill’s author, State Sen. John Liu, professes alarm at the number of pedestrians he sees on their cellphone and a sidewalk at the same time.
“It’s hard not to notice the number of people texting while walking,” he said, “and downright alarming to see people continuing their texting while crossing the street. We want New Yorkers to know it’s OK to wait the five seconds.”
The measure has a long way to go before becoming law. One hurdle has already emerged. Sen. Tim Kennedy, chair of the Senate Transport Committee, has his doubts.
“I don’t support the concept in its current form,” Kennedy said in a shocking admission. “It appears to me as though this is an overreach of government.”
Law professor Jonathan Turley points out a weird irony in New York City, which just reduced penalties for public urination. “You could soon be in a better legal position in New York City,” Turley wrote, “urinating on your cellphone in public than texting on it.”
Even if the new texting law does pass, there’s one easy solution for addicted cell users. Keep texting whenever you want. Just don’t do it in a crosswalk.