Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Loitering teens a problem?
This story about an anti-teen-loitering device put a kick into my late afternoon. My thoughts:
1) First off, the product is The Mosquito and it's made by a company called Kids Be Gone. If this doesn't reek of an April Fool's Day article, I don't know what does. Looks real from the website, though.
2) The Mosquito Fact Sheet (pdf) tells me that "it's not a weapon, it is not violent, and it does not hurt." When data has been collected, police calls have been reduced by 80%-100%. (No police calls at all? We could substitute police with Mosquitos?) The real kicker comes in the lower right hand corner of the first page-- "increases the quality of life of those affected by anti-social behavior." I think they meant social behavior, but nonetheless, this device is all about the redistribution of quality of life! Is the redistribution of quality of life all about imposing externalities on others? A loud stereo does that; so do anti-drinking and anti-smoking laws. What else has the same effect?
3) Is there really a frequency that only teens and young adults can hear? I'm not buying this. I'd agree that your hearing generally declines with age, but everyone loses the same frequency at roughly the same age? (They mention blasting your iPod could help you out against the Mosquito...) Biologists of TPS, that one's on you. Also, unknown possible long term health effects? I don't see that being an issue, especially if you could iPod blast yourself away from it affecting you at all. (That would have a long term effect, but that's quite known.)
4) I can understand the uproar over installing these in public places; equal protection under the law, of course. If you have trouble with people loitering in public places, don't make it a public place. But private companies using it to protect their property? What's the problem here? I suppose the largest issue would be spillovers beyond their property line, but that's not addressed as an issue in the article. Could it really be upheld in court that a harmless device (up for debate, I'm sure) used to defend your property would be illegal to use? Lawyers of TPS, that one's all you.
5) By the way, I've been to that movie theater in Great Barrington, and I can't imagine loitering being a problem...though I suppose it has been a few years. But if there's any town in America that can act collectively and ban something, it's Great Barrington. They've banned cell phone towers for a while now; this article speaks about it briefly near the end. Have fun this summer, Dave!