The mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, has passed some excellent legislature in his time in office. As a person interested in good health, I was pleased to see the ban on trans fat in restaurant food as well as the bans on smoking in an increasing number of places and the proposed ban on the sale of larger sizes of soda, which serve no purpose other than to expand the pocketbooks of the sellers and the waistlines of the consumers while cutting down on their lifeline.
I was less than thrilled with a newer idea being considered, which is that of publicly shaming drivers who choose to drive over the speed limit in an effort to prevent them from doing so.
This is an entirely a wasted effort and for a simple reason — there is no perceived shame in speeding. This is not a crime that has definite negative repercussions, like robbery or physical abuse. If a person speeds and nobody is there to see it, the only result is that they got there a bit faster.
Speeding is, in fact, something about which people will boast. “I got from Boston to New York in only two and a half hours!” a person might boast. There is no need to explicitly state that they sped — it is well implied by how long it took compared to the average trip time.
Let us now say that the idea is implemented and the administration starts printing names of people who were caught speeding in the New York Post and The New York Times. I can promise you that most of the people mentioned will either completely disregard the notice or will promptly get high fives from their friends. Nobody will hang their head in shame and seek counseling for their “problem.”
It seems that the city has a lot bigger problems on its plate — pursuing punishment of speeders through shame would be — pun intended — a bit of a shame and a waste of time and money as well. Better to stay vigilant about keeping the city healthy and as smoke free as possible.