Saturday, May 23, 2009

What happens in the Metro...

I guess I haven't really been following the news lately, because I totally missed what is probably the biggest controversy of the week, namely, the lady getting fined for not holding the handrail in the metro.

My initial reaction upon reading the headlines ("Woman fined for not holding handrail" and the like) was, of course, What The Fuck. But upon reading the article, I have to say that I really can't see anything wrong with what the police did, and I don't particularly sympathize with the lady.

First off, she wasn't only "fined for not holding handrail". Sure, she was. But in my opinion, that fine is only incidental to the real issue, which was obstructing police, for which she got a $320 fine. People shouldn't focus on the handrail, and demonize the police officers because of that. For instance, if the police stops you for a broken headlight, and you assault the police officer because of that, I don't think it would be quite fair to report "Man arrested for broken headlight".

Then, people say that it's stupid to fine people for such a trifle, and the police should have left her off with a warning. However, according to the police, they did warn her multiple times, and he refused to comply. After which they ticketed her. What's a "warning"? No warning would be "Miss, you were not holding the handrail, here's a $100 fine." A warning is: "Miss, you should hold the handrail, please hold the handrail." Or, if you really wanna be thorough with it: "Miss, the law says you have to hold the handrail. You are not holding the handrail. Please hold the handrail (NOW) or you'll get a fine." Here's your warning. So I would say that if you don't start holding that handrail within a reasonably short time, you've had your warning and are eligible for a fine.

Many argue that the police shouldn't be telling people how to ride an escalator. Besides, nobody has ever been fined for not holding the handrail before, so this instance is definitely abusive, right? WRONG. Just because nobody every had doesn't mean nobody ever should be fined, or that it's legally OK not to hold the handrail.

Should she be fined, though? Maybe. I'm not opposed to the fine, and I certainly don't see anything wrong with the fine, given the circumstances.

What circumstances?

Obstructing police work. She yelled at them when they told her to hold the rail.

She says she didn't.

For some reason, I'm not tempted to believe that. Given the facts, I think it's reasonable to say that the police's version is more believable, and that she did obstruct the police in some way.

The only facts we have are these: she was fined for not holding the handrail, and obstruction. She was handcuffed and held in detention.

1. the police was either warning a lot of people, or only picked on her. I find the first case more believable. I don't see any reason the police would pick on her, of all people there.

2. Assuming the police was warning a lot of people, why was she the only one with a fine? Either they picked on her, or she did something to warrant it. Given that she was detained, I'd say she did something. The other option is that police has cuffed her though she didn't do anything. Why would they do that? I don't find this very likely.

So she did something. What did she do?

1. She refused to comply, and
2. Police say she started screaming at them.

Assuming both are true. Should the police have cuffed/arrested her?


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