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Friday, September 27th 2013

10:42 AM

Move Over Stop And Frisk - Here Comes The Street-Harassment App!

From my latest article over at The Urban Politico:

"No sooner than my recent article taking up the burning issue of our era, "street harassment" hit the Interwebs, did one of my readers alert me to the fact that, as the quote above so presciently observes, there ARE indeed moves afoot to criminalize this supposed pandemic of the behaviors of lecherous Men. The Atlantic ran an article about two weeks ago, detailing how the Hollaback! organization, a multi-state "the sky is falling" franchise chockfull of the kinds of Do-Gooders one is likely to run into in Left-leaning havens like New York City, has released an updated version of their original "street harassment app" that came out back in 2010. The newer version - "Hollaback! 2.0" if you will - was granted $20K USD back in 2011 and was released for use in the Big Apple with the blessings and support of local politicos Julissa Ferraras and Christine Quinn - the latter of which being a mayoral candidate in her own right. Aside from all the usual "features" you'd expect from an app - like the ability to take and catalog pictures and/or video footage of the putative "offenders", GPS stuff and balloons mapping when and where some guy you don't like was, gasp! looking at you - the app has raised concerns among the Best and Brightest for one other updated feature: the ability to collate data. You see, when you use the app, you can then send your findings in to a kind of Big Blue database - in this case, something called Councilstat - which kinda sounds like Compstat, doesn't it?-where, instead of merely the mayor of NYC will have access to such "reports", just the NYC council members. Like Ms. Ferraras. Or Ms. Quinn. 

These developments come at a most interesting - and uncomfortable - time for the Hollaback! franchise; earlier this Summer, a NYC judge ruled its infamous "Stop and Frisk" policy to be unconstitutional, and which has sparked a national debate about the abuses of the police state, racial profiling of young, lower-class Black and Brown Men, and trampling of civil liberties; then, there's the larger and even more troubling revelations brought to us by American dissident Edward Snowden, about the federal government's snooping activities - it's gotten so bad that the actions of the NSA in this regard have soured relations between the USA and Brazil, after it's president discovered that the former was indeed, spying on her. The chief question, in both of these well-known - infamous even - events, is who gets to decide if someone is outta pocket? What objective standards will come into play, in making such a determination, when someone, likely a Woman, uses this "Hollaback! 2.0" app and presses the "send" button? What happens then - will criminal penalties be levied against the offender - without trial, perhaps? 

There are those in the "hollaback" community who certainly would like to see legal penalties assessed, for certain - one Cynthia Grant Bowman, of Cornell university, has been on the stump advocating for criminal penalties for "verbal street harassment" - she calls for fines being levied against the "offenders"."

Checkout the whole article and comment over there. 

Now adjourn your arses...

The Obsidian

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