Just this week we did a post called Can Sexual “Banter” Morph Into Sexual Harassment? The Stakes Are High, and discussed whether the “Broken Windows” theory could/should have any application.
We wondered where the line should be drawn between banter and harassment. Yvonne T. Zertuche, a Houston Development Executive, thought that “this is a slippery slope best not crossed. I advise to be conservative and consider how one’s actions and word’s may be interpreted by others.”
By coincidence Patricia Williams, writing in the latest issue of The Nation, critiques the “Broken Windows” theory, and William Bratton, newly-appointed NYC Police Commissioner, whose reputation, she says, “rests on his work, in New York and Los Angeles, as a proponent of so-called ‘broken windows’ policing.”
Our prior post uses this theory simply to posit whether it has anything to say about stopping harassment in the workplace by cracking down on minor or trivial “banter” or teasing. Most people don’t know what this theory is, of course, and we quote from The Nation article simply to illustrate it, albeit from one viewpoint.
Williams characterizes the “Broken Windows” theory as “aggressively going after very minor offenses—not merely misdemeanors but infractions like littering, sitting on stoops and carrying open beer cans—will bring the overall rate of violent crime down as well. It is this program that has led to the stopping, frisking and general harassing of millions of New Yorkers, the overwhelming majority without probable cause.”
The theory is, indeed, controversial, as we said the first time we wrote about it in this blog, and Williams is clearly opposed to it: “New Yorkers have lived in the shadow of broken windows policing for two decades, during which time the policy has intimidated, dispossessed and humiliated millions of innocent people. It not only divides New York; it creates two Americas.”
Anyway, that’s the last we will say about this, unless anyone has any comments.