Monday, June 27, 2011

Crowd Control is Getting Out of Line

I was very happy when I heard the news that the Marriage Equality law passed in New York. No less is expected from New York. For this is New York, and it is how it should be.

So now everybody is going to have equal access to the Wedding Industrial Complex Ripoff Machine (flowers: $20; same flowers for a wedding: $200). Mazel Tov!

I wrote to Republican senators Saland and Grisanti on Friday morning to remind them that this is not a religious issue but an issue of legal discrimination and civil rights.
I'd like to believe that they read my letter and said, what the hell, why not?

On Friday night there were lots of people celebrating in front of the Stonewall Inn, and I wondered just how many of them actually feel the immediate hankering to get married. But even though the legalization of gay marriage in NYS is an enormously important issue with real-life consequences for many couples and families, it is also a highly symbolic issue that positively affects those who have no intention of marrying. It means that the barriers are coming down. It means that we are becoming a more evolved and fair society.

The barriers that seem to keep multiplying, however, are those horrid methods of crowd control used by the NYPD since 9/11. The first gay pride parade I ever witnessed in NYC was about 14 years ago. People would line up in the streets and the parade would go by. I barely remember a barricade. But now, NYC crowd control has has an almost fascistic, authoritarian feel. We got out of the subway on Sheridan Square and because parade watchers were squeezed inside the barricades like human Spam, we decided that we didn't want to be penned in like cattle so we wanted to go back into the subway from which we had just emerged less than one foot away, yet the police made us get on a tortuous line and snake around the block in order to do so. I respect that there is order. In fact, one of the reasons I enjoy living here is that people respect order, but this is ridiculous.

Americans are oblivious to the fact that they are the best behaved crowds in the world. Americans see a random person standing in front of them and they instinctively form a line. Where I come from, and in most countries, rich and poor, people either do not fathom the concept of an orderly crowd or they do anything in their power to fight it.
Just see what happens every time you try to board a plane going somewhere other than the US. It doesn't matter how many times before people have been in the same situation, they crowd around the gate as if they were in a mosh pit. So since Americans are so good at policing themselves at crowds, why does the police feel the need to treat American crowds like POWs? Americans are so good, that even when they are treated like cattle, they quietly obey (for the most part) and they continue having a good time. In other places, these kinds of constraints would spark stampedes or rioting.
I see this as the next great civil rights issue: the right to enjoy a parade without feeling punished by the police.

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