Link NYC Kiosks And Porn: Another Way To Criminalize The Homeless?
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Politics and Activism

Link NYC Kiosks And Porn: Another Way To Criminalize The Homeless?

What's the underlying reason behind removing browsers from NYC's new kiosks?

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Link NYC Kiosks And Porn: Another Way To Criminalize The Homeless?
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News broke recently that the Internet browsers on those kiosks rising on city streets like Terminators are going down.

Some homeless people have been creating encampments around these monstrosities. They've used the kiosks to play loud music, drink and watch some porn, all while sitting on newspaper boxes.

So because the yout' definitely can't watch homeless men gazing at Barely Legal Betty 7 on 42nd and 8th - elected officials, businesses and residents have complained - operator LinkNYC ordered a kaputski on the surfing (you'll still be able to connect to "super-fast" WiFi with your device though).

But looking at how residents, media, and politicians have described this controversy, you can't help but wonder: Is this really about making the city more livable? Or another effort to decrease the visibility of a population this city wants buried under the subway with the rats, making way for development?

Forest Hills resident Matthew Ross, in a recent letter to the New York Daily News, supported the idea because it stopped "too many undesirables." An August story about the kiosks from the New York Post (by the way, do me a solid, folks - only use that paper to wipe your bare ass after nature calls) said they've become "living rooms for vagrants."

Speaking to the New York Times, DeBlasio spokeswoman Natalie Grybauskas said, “There were concerns about loitering and extended use of LinkNYC kiosks, so the mayor is addressing these quality-of-life complaints head on."

Notice a pattern in the language used here? It paints a skewed picture of the homeless as things that shouldn't be seen on our streets. Not to mention, former NYPD commish Bill Bratton's racist Broken Windows policing employs similar vernacular when describing lower-income areas and/or situations where homeless swaths congregate.

And in a city trying to transform everything into either a glass box condo or New Age iced tea shop, we can't allow any situation where folks who can't afford living anywhere in NYC, or to leave it, congregate with others in the same boat.

Take the NYPD's clearing of a homeless encampment in East Harlem last September ahead of Pope Francis' visit at a nearby school. Can't have those vagabonds around when an allegedly "Holy" man is spreading scripture, right? Not to mention, that area is set to receive a massive development project in coming years.

That same month, the city also cleared an encampment in Mott Haven, another area rapidly gentrifying.

It's easy to say removing these folks and offering them shelter is best, when many have no idea how dangerous shelters can be.

In these situations, rather than addressing the true problems behind homelessness, our fair Apple has the idea that bulldozing these people, erasing their existence from the public memory, is the way to go.

Less aggressive elements of that idea seem to be taking root with the kiosk situation. While pornography is indeed problematic, with the ideas it teaches about commodifying women's bodies, political figureheads show their naivete when they argue from their Bully pulpits that some instances of public masturbation using these machines warrants removing their browsing functions. In case Councilman Corey Johnson - who lead efforts to remove the browsers - isn't aware, non-homeless people using the Internet for sexual stimulation in public also happens in this town. I've seen men using free web service to watch some action at the Queens Public Library, for instance.

As long as NYC provides free WiFi connectivity, you'll always run the chance that some people will "Beat It" outside where children may be around. That doesn't make it right, of course, but neither will removing Internet access on the kiosk tablets because of a few people. Why punish the gender, when you may well be hampering homeless people who might be spending hours on those browsers not for kink, but for job searches?

There are other alternatives to this situation besides removing Internet access for arguably the city's most vulnerable population - people who may not otherwise have that access at all. But scrubbing the homeless from city blocks by any means, making way for the city's continuing Disneyfication, is clearly a better way in this city's eyes.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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