A Simple Solution: Break All the Windows

Everyone in New York now understands that “Broken Windows” policing is a blight on our city.  All kinds of normal behavior have been criminalized, to the point that average citizens are constantly being harassed by the police for engaging in harmless behavior.  Even the Mayor's son walks in terror of being victimized by his father's security detail.

A striking example occurred earlier this week when Councilman Corey Johnson was stopped by three plainclothesmen when he was walking between subway cars.  Apparently it is a “violation of the law” to walk from car to car, because the police gave Johnson a $75 ticket.  The hapless cops, it seems, were unaware that they were harassing an elected official, not just a nobody, and that their reckless abuse of authority was going to make the pages of the city’s dailies. 

New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs were rocked by the news that Councilman Johnson himself was swept up in a “broken windows” sweep, but were relieved by news that he has initiated a formal complaint against his persecutors.

Councilman Rafael Espinal came out on Twitter in support of his colleague, announcing that he is “with Corey all the way.”  Espinal added, “as a NY'er I've walked through doors many times in my lifetime. 1. For convenience 2. Most importantly for safety reasons.”

Indeed, who could argue with the councilman’s logic?  “Convenience,” as everyone knows, is always its own justification.  Nothing else need be said—except that the wise and prudent Councilman Espinal points out that “safety” is an even more compelling reason to walk between the cars on a moving train.

We are reminded of a bill, Resolution 91, that Councilman Jumaane Williams proposed last year that would have asked the NYPD and the MTA to stop arresting people who commit "minor" crimes, because arrests can cause “significant stress” and “financial hardship” to the arrestees.  It is sobering to think that, if people of conscience had responded to Williams’ call, then Corey Johnson might never have been dragged into the fine procedural net that the NYPD has cast in pursuit of “Broken Windows” policing.

Rafael Espinal and Jumaane Williams have their hearts in the right place, encouraging people to act out of a sense of their own convenience or safety, and asking the police to stop arresting people “committing” “crimes,” whatever that means.  But the time has come for a bolder step: one that will not just end unjust arrests, but will cut the crime rate by 90% or more.

We need to eliminate laws.

Think about it: without laws, there would be no lawbreakers.  It’s so simple, that I don’t know why no one has thought of this before.  Without laws, a free people could go about their business without constant fear of arrest by police looking for broken windows in order to meet their quotas.

Corey Johnson would never again be molested for walking between subway cars, because the absurd rule against doing so would not exist.

“Showtime” dancers would be free to express themselves through dance.  Hardworking men and women on their way home would be allowed to relax and kick back with a beer or a smoke on the subway.  A youth encumbered with a candy wrapper would be entitled to drop it wherever he stands. 

Squeegeemen would be once again allowed to ply their trade at busy intersections, ensuring that we have clean windshields, and helping to realize the Mayor’s vision of zero traffic accidents.

Vendors of loose cigarettes such as Eric Garner would no longer be constantly harassed by policemen doing the bidding of local shopkeepers angry about his competition.  The abolition of petty legislation would mean that crime would plummet.  No one would fear arrest, and therefore, no one would fear, period.

As Riker’s Island became empty of criminals, we could repurpose it as a sanctuary for homeless families or undocumented immigrant children.  Where turnstile jumpers and sidewalk spitters were once incarcerated for cruel terms of solitary confinement, literacy classes could flourish.

The arrest of Corey Johnson will mark a revolution in human understanding.  The problem isn’t crime: the problem, my friends, is the law.  Once all the windows are broken, there will no longer be any windows to break.  And then, with the fresh air of freedom blowing freely through the empty sashes, we will have achieved true liberty.