There are all sorts of controversial posters hanging in subway stations and, of course, subways themselves. There are warnings about the perils of teen pregnancy, graphic depictions of how much fat is in each cup of soda that you drink, before and after shots of fungus-afflicted feet, and, perhaps most egregious of all, the banal selections on the "Poetry in Motion" posters. But now, if Queens city councilman Peter Vallone gets his way, there will soon be a new addition to the art that graces the subways. A subway pervert wall of shame! Hm.
According to NY1, "Peter Vallone Jr., a candidate for Queens borough president, wants pictures of convicted sex offenders posted at stations where attacks have happened and in subway stations near offenders' homes." Vallone views this as a protective measure and plans to bring it up at a City Council meeting this week. But before you get all excited, wondering if you'll see anyone you recognize on the posters, it turns out that the MTA is not too keen on the idea. A spokesperson for the MTA said, "This is an idea that has been proposed numerous times before and one that we will not consider. The reason being there are concerns of mistaken identity and concerns about vigilantes taking matters into their own hands."
Well, so actually, that MTA statement makes perfect sense and is a measured response to an inflammatory and attention-seeking suggestion. But forget about common sense for a second, if you can. I mean, even I'll try and forget common sense for a second, and that's something I rarely ever do. As both a frequent subway rider and a woman, I have experienced way too many sexually agressive and harassing things on the subway. There was the guy who stood on the platform opposite me one night, jerking off and waving at me, following me as I tried walking from one end of the station to another. And then there was the guy who stood right in front of me, leaning into my face, as I sat reading a book on an almost empty F train, forcing me to move to another car. The list goes on, but I'll stop there. Now, would I kind of love to have their pictures hanging up in various subway stations? Right next to the posters for the next Jennifer Aniston movie? Yeah, I kind of totally would. But I also think that measured thinking should prevail on this one and that the MTA is right in not wanting to promote vigilantism. But that doesn't mean I don't take a lot of joy in videos that private citizens take of perverts and then post on YouTube. Those should never stop.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen