"I'm never going to go down there again"

So says Ute Linhart, a fashion merchandise director who made the mistake of riding the New York subway and was suddenly pushed into an oncoming R train:

The incident occurred around 8:00 p.m. when Linhart was waiting for an uptown train. According to the Post, Jose Rojas, a cook at Cipriani, was "on the platform pointing in a menacing gun-like gesture at several other straphangers when he made a beeline for the victim." She says, "He stood next to me for a few seconds and stared at my face. He looked insane." Then he allegedly pushed her into the train's path. When she was thrown back onto the platform--suffering suffering ribs, a broken left arm, and right cheek--another person waiting for a train grabbed her, softening her blow.
Others stopped Rojas from leaving the station.

When the cops asked Rojas his name, he allegedly answered, "My name is Osama bin Laden, f--k you!" and was taken to Bellevue because he was so drunk.

Angry drunken psychos are quite familiar to anyone who has lived in a big city, but it isn't very often they try to kill people.

Whether the incident is an argument against public transportation, I don't know. At the risk of sounding claustrophobic -- again -- I think that being trapped in any sort of crowd situation creates an inherent conflict with a basic human instinct to be aware of personal space, but it's tough to do that when you're reduced to being another sardine in a can.

Civilization just isn't for everyone.

Interestingly, I read about this incident while I was pondering a post Glenn Reynolds linked -- about Matthew Yglesias's advocacy of lying. Like so many political activists, Yglesias seems to believe that lying is a good thing if done to advance a socially desirable goal. And in the post which was cited, Yglesias endorsed lying to advance the lofty lefty goal of public transportation:

On the idea that ridership estimates are unrealistically optimistic, it seems to me that the sad reality of politics is that it would be irresponsible for advocates of any large-scale infrastructure project to do anything other than present unrealistically optimistic measures. For better or for worse, that's politics.
Yglesias reiterated this principle recently on Twitter:
"Fighting dishonesty with dishonesty is sometimes the right thing for advocates to do, yes," said Yglesias.
When pressed on the point, he became quite adamant:
In concluding his interview with The Daily Caller, Yglesias said "go fuck yourself" and hung up the phone.
As I said, civilization just isn't for everyone.

But I am fascinated with the idea of lying to the masses when it's for their own good. Government programs like gigantic public transportation boondoggles, invasive restrictions on human activity because of alleged "carbon footprints," and reducing the quality of health care by government takeover and rationing -- all of these things are unpopular with the little people, whose money is used to pay for them, and who get to vote. If you take the view that some people know better than others what goals are socially desirable, then lying in order to advance the goals just goes with the turf.

Which means it's probably "irresponsible" to report ugly incidents which occur on public transportation, because people might avoid it. As things are now, liberal policy wonks are having a very tough time with women who fear public transportation.

But that's only the fear factor (which of course isn't limited to women). There's also the dislike factor, and you certainly don't have to be a woman not to like this:

Someone had turned on their radio so loud that I jumped in my seat. I looked around for the offender, couldn't pinpoint him, opened my book, couldn't concentrate, gazed out the window, couldn't relax, tried to eavesdrop on the man wearing two sets of glasses talking to himself, couldn't hear him, surveyed the other passengers like a sniper peering through a riflescope and then realized: the noise was coming from the television suspended behind the driver. A television on a bus?

The news was playing - LOUDLY, did I mention that? - and I was forced to listen to reports of murder, violence, betrayal and hundreds of thousands of newly-lost jobs. In my life I choose not to watch the news because it is chock full o' tragedies and negativity, and all that does is permeate my mind and ferment like pickled ginger. (Honestly, how is knowing all the grim details of a man dismembering and eating his family on the other side of the country useful to me?) But, trapped on a moving, public vehicle, I was stripped of that choice. I couldn't read, I couldn't daydream, and if I'd been with a friend, conversation would've been difficult. That's how loud and obnoxious (due to the newscaster's typical monotonous and nasal voice) the metro-television was.

And to make matters worse, every 5-8 blocks the computerized voice announcing the next stop blared over the top of the news report, so that it sounded like a screaming match between sports commentators trying to out-do each other. The TV distracted me from clearly hearing the next stop, and the stop announcer prevented me from clearly hearing just how many women a certain celebrity has cheated on his wife with (wait, was that fifteen or fifty? My life depends on that detail, goddammit!).

Not only were my senses of sight and sound violated, but with the shock-absorber-free wheels hitting potholes every few yards, my spine was collapsing and expanding like an accordion. I got up to give my seat to an older woman with several bags but I felt like I was betraying her warm thanks as I rubbed my freshly bruised ass and stretched my neck.

As I stood there, one hand on the bar above me, the other keeping my purse strap on my shoulder, being flung to and fro like knickers on a clothesline, I couldn't help but shake my head (which was actually quite involuntary) in wonder. The whole ride had been jarring, loud, distracting, unnerving and totally unpleasant.

And they want us to abandon our cars for this?

Yes, they do. And they are quite willing to lie about it, because they claim to know what is best for us.

I think the problem comes down to diametrically opposed views of what we call "leadership." Some people think that the purpose of "public service" (often a euphemism) is to do those things that the voters and taxpayers want done. To serve the people. Others think that public service means doing what they deem to be best for them, which is not the same thing at all. If you believe that you have a right to decide for people what is best for them (even though they don't like it), then engaging in deception just goes with the turf.

Which means that from a lefty perspective, Yglesias is right.

And if you don't like being herded onto public transportation, being harassed by the Gonad, Safety and Lightbulb police, losing your medical privacy while paying more and more for deteriorating health care, having your body fat electronically monitored and carbon footprints regulated, well, tough!

Such things are deemed to be good for you, and you must learn to like them.

It's called authoritarianism. Except, the authoritarian liars are quite fond of calling the people who want to be left alone "authoritarians."

Maybe it's because I majored in Rhetoric at Berkeley, but I have to admit, there's a dark side of me that finds such shameless demagoguery in the name of morality highly entertaining.

posted by Eric on 08.14.10 at 12:03 PM


Ah, is Matty Iglesias willing to be the Walter Duranty of our descent into famine?

Wherewith Aleister Crowley?

Joan of Argghh!   ·  August 14, 2010 10:25 PM

Heh. I see where Roger Simon has reserved Duranty's infamy for Oliver Stone.

Joan of Argghh!   ·  August 14, 2010 10:31 PM

I am a liberal. Yglesias is a disgrace and should be fired. A real liberal would have the courage of his convictions and tell the truth.

If the truth won't win it for you then you deserve to lose.

myiq2xu   ·  August 14, 2010 10:43 PM

Me, I like choice. I have a car, a bike, buses, subways and trains, all practically at my doorstep. In an ordinary week, I use them all. I rarely worry about drunk cooks at the subway stop, but I frequently think about drunk drivers on the highway any weekend night. As for the woman who suffered through rude radio playing and computerized announcements, I'd only point out that at least most of the time she apparently gets to read while she travels—not a good idea in the car. If I'm going to be taxed for "infrastructure," I'm voting for at least a healthy dollop of public transportation funds (and bike paths).

HMI   ·  August 14, 2010 11:22 PM


I'm a rather big AC fan and didn't get your comment. Could you elaborate?

M. Simon   ·  August 14, 2010 11:46 PM

I rather like the subways I have used in big cities, and I am of an age to remember 15 cents for the NYC subway. Give me a subway ride in City A over a traffic jam in the same city, any day.

In Boston, I consider the subway system a literal life saver, as in my experience Boston area drivers- Route 128 and further in- are the worst in the country. I would no more put my life in danger by driving in the Boston area than I would put a gun to my temple. Give me the T. any day.

Gringo   ·  August 15, 2010 3:48 AM

Why, ol' AC and Duranty were buddies. I wonder who Matty's buddy is?

And I wonder, even more, what you see in him. . .

Joan of Argghh!   ·  August 15, 2010 7:00 AM


I read Magick without Tears many years ago. Thanks for the heads up.

Aleister Crowley called Walter Duranty "my old friend" and quoted from Duranty's book "I write as I please" twice in his book Magick Without Tears. Some authors, such as S.J. Taylor, claim an association between Crowley and Duranty going back to 1913 in Paris. These same authors have also claimed that Duranty was married to Jane Cheron. But no primary documentation for the marriage has been demonstrated by the authors.


M. Simon   ·  August 15, 2010 1:40 PM

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