Thursday, September 29, 2005

You! On the bench.

Amber Taylor doesn't like a law banning the childless from playground benches, and suggests that the greater problem is children alone in parks. At 22, I still vaguely remember being a child, so here's my take: Children playing in a park may not be alone, but a caregiver will presumably not be climbing the monkey bars, etc., with an 8-year-old. Society does what it can so that urban parks are safe enough for a kid to play without--as is sometimes the case in NYC--being attached to a parent via a leash. A determined pedophile (and, from what TV movies will teach you, they're a determined bunch) will seize the opportunity to kidnap a child when a caregiver is not right at the child's side.

And Rivington Street--along with the Lower East Side, not to mention Lower Manhattan in general--is a veritable playground for grown-ups. The bars and restaurants of the area are out of reach, legally or price-wise, for the city's kids. Is it really so bad for one part of the place to be designated as children-and-caregivers-only? For rational reasons, minors can't go to, say, Max Fish. Not legally, at least. So, for other, equally if not more rational reasons, adults wishing to chill on a bench, maybe whine about bad blind dates and so forth, maybe just sit and stare, maybe molest children, are not allowed in this park.

That said, how odd that this law was actually enforced, and yes, how unfortunate for the woman made an example of. I've seen those signs before and always assumed they were to prevent groups of menacing late-teens from lurking and dealing/promoting drugs. If I get all Freudian-like and think back to my own childhood, I don't (thankfully) know of any pedophiles, but I have a vague recollection of menacing teenagers, who, in retrospect, were probably just relatively harmless potheads, but you never know, and therein lies one possible rationale for a strange but not altogether objectionable law.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

But you grew up in Giuliani's new york. Prior to that the "harmless pot heads" were often crack heads looking for their next fix.

Anonymous said...

Petey, TECHNICALLY, these nannies would have been allowed in:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/28/nyregion/28nanny.html

Phoebe said...

How does anonymous 2 know that anonymous 1 was "Petey"?

But to answer anonymous 1, I was born in 1983, so my prime playground years were, I believe, under Dinkins.

Amber said...

I don't think it's very relevant to the issue of who should be excluded from public lands whether or not there are private establishments for the excluded. For one thing, park benches are free, whereas bars and restaurants tend to not appreciate people sitting at their tables and counters without paying for anything.

Most children are molested by a member of their family. There's no law keeping skeevy men away from these kids while they are on their way to and from the park. So what's the benefit of the ban, relative to the cost?

Phoebe said...

A park bench may be "free," but if it's within the confines of a playground, it's more like a public elementary school in some ways. And I disagree that skeevy men on the way to and from the park are the same as skeevy men in the park--children who are well-supervised on the way there and back are often given more freedom to roam once in what is perceived as a safe, child-and-supervisor-only zone. And even if molestation is more often from family members, that hardly matters--should we outlaw children being alone in a house with their families?

Chris said...

This is so offensive on so many levels. The majority of child molesters are male. Should all men be banned from park benches as well as childless women??

I suffered three miscarriages, and 3 heart attacks/plus bypass surgery, (a genetic condition)..which caused my "childless" status. My husband and I are heartbroken, but just emerging from our grief, and may or may NOT decide to adopt.
So often mother's will shoot me dirty looks, or say something similar to "She's thin because she never had children", She's successful because she never had children, and/or use the dreadful, "You'll never understand, you're not a mother" line; as if I couldn't fathom what it is like love someone as deeply as a mother would, or to be as busy as a mother, or to be pulled in several directions, or to have any kind of life at all, or to be at a park, and god forbid have one of those childless women sit down on a bench!!!!!
Last I knew, motherhood was not synonymous with "Martyr".
This makes no sense to me, there is no correlation and no causal connection to put this sign up.
What country do we live in, again??