All Adults Are Potential Predators (Even Ladies Eating Donuts at the Park)

Hi Readers: The headline on this story says it all — almost: Women Ticketed for Eating Donuts in a Brooklyn Park. The REASON these women were ticketed was not the donuts, it was the lack of children with them.

Local law — that is, the law in my insane city — says no adults are allowed on playgrounds unless they are accompanied by kids. In other words, my city officially believes there is absolutely no decent reason any adult would or should ever want to be around frolicking kids. (Or swings. Or jungle gyms.)

If that reminds you of segregation, it should — because that’s exactly what it is. We are segregating adults from children who aren’t their own. And, just like the earlier segregation parts of our country condoned, the idea is the same: Keep people apart by warning them about each other. One is innocent and good and pure, one is monstrous and lewd and uncontrollable. Must to separate.

Way to go, New York. — Lenore

Mmm! Predator Chow!

99 Responses

  1. The scariest part to me is the line in the story saying “Nobody is saying that these women were in the right by sitting and eating their doughnuts on a bench in a playground rather than a park, they weren’t…”

  2. I note that the poll at the end of the story reads:

    “Should the police give warnings before issuing summons for sitting in a playground?
    Yes, that’s just the civil thing to do.
    Yes, especially when the sign explaining the rules is nearly unreadable.
    No, you break the rules you get punished.
    I don’t know.”

    Apparently they are the only options.
    Sigh.

  3. Perhaps we need a “take back our Park” day for grown-ups. I love swings.

  4. Absolutely ridiculous, and I appreciate having so much from the girls’ perspective.

  5. What gets me is that the article focuses on whether or not they should have gotten a warning, not on the ridiculousness of the regulation.

    Ugh, what a joke.

  6. I starting to think that one day we are going to take all children from their parents the second they are born and send them to an island where they will be properly educated and taken care of by sexless, protector robots. Then they are brought back from the island to their parents and society when they are of 18 years old. (I sense a blockbuster suspense movie in this. Hmmm … Who wants to take my idea and write it into a screenplay?? )

  7. As I obviously can’t write “I am starting” rather than “I starting”

  8. At the end of the article, it says:

    “Nobody is saying that these women were in the right by sitting and eating their doughnuts on a bench in a playground rather than a park, they weren’t…”

    Excuse, me, but WHAT? Nobody is saying that? Well, then. I’ll be that person. I’ll be the person who says they were in the right to sit there and eat doughnuts!!! I’m pro-parks. I’m pro-sitting. I’m pro-doughtnuts! They were totally in the right.

  9. Laws like that are discriminatory! A public park is supposed to be for everyone to use, not just a few select people. You want that, go to a private, members only, park.

  10. This is unreal! My kids are grown and I still enjoy parks. I enjoy picnics at the park, even doughnuts! Hell, I even enjoy kids! Oh my god, I must be a predator and I didn’t even know it!

  11. “Officer, If I kidnap one of those children may I stay in the park?”

  12. So, although it’s sad that these women were ticketed, if we’re going to be segregating children and not-children anyways how about keeping kids under the age of 10 out of movies, restaurants, and stores. Nobody gets molested and we don’t have to listen to any crying or screaming brats anymore. Sounds like a win-win.

  13. It’s a ridiculous law, but what’s worse is all the people commenting after the article defending it. Park or playground, I don’t care, most people aren’t pedophiles seeking a new target, and we shouldn’t act as though it’s necessary to keep your average adult well away from your average kid at play.

  14. These stupid laws are like reacting to burning your hand on a hot stove by ripping the stove out of your house and eating out for the rest of your life.

  15. Anyone remember the civil rights movement where hundreds of people would sit-in at establishments where they were legally not welcome? I think it’s time for a “take your parents to the park and leave them there day”. I would love to see the police of New York attempt to cite or arrest hundreds, maybe even thousands of childless adults from the city parks. Inundating the courts and overworking the police until they realize the ridiculousness of the law is the only way we’ll be able to get it to change.

  16. I like “RobynHeud’s” idea. Form a sit in!

  17. I just thought of a great way to make a little extra money…set up a booth outside the park where adults can rent a kid to accompany them. The adults can sit in the park, the rent-a-kid can play with the other rent-a-kids, and I’d get a few dollars. Nobody would get a ticket because the adults would theoretically have a child with them.

    What a stupid law!

  18. and again, for people who have trouble believing NYC would have such a regulation, here’s a picture of the sign:

  19. I can hardly summon the energy to philosophically battle this form of stupidity anymore. Let’s just say I won’t be living in New York City anytime–and if I ever visit, I’d be inclined to have my wife take the kids somewhere else while I ON PURPOSE go to such a park myself and the minute a cop shows up tell him–without threatening him etc–what a stupid, ignorant, bigoted, discriminatory, segregation-proposing, perver-presuming, adult-hating type of law it is.

    LRH

  20. WOW. I am flabbergasted. I knew there were reasons I never wanted to live in NY. I think this makes reason #1.

  21. “Nobody is saying that these women were in the right by sitting and eating their doughnuts on a bench in a playground rather than a park, they weren’t…”

    I had to scroll to the top and make sure I wasn’t reading the Onion.

  22. Don’t look now, but this is just another example of the greater pathology of hysteria and fear that is troubling this country. What next, a required background check for any adult (grand-parental?) visitation to one’s home? Don’t think for a second that it isn’t heading there…
    It’s not just NYC.

  23. To paraphrase the late great Jane Jacobs (your former fellow city-dweller Lenore):
    Cities work when people feel a degree of trust and respect for each other even if they don’t know each other well. That’s not something you get by being taught. You get it by the experience of having people around you who show trust and respect for you even if they don’t know you. In other words, a city that completely segregates children from the adults around them is a city that is doomed to fail.

  24. As a New Yorker with a child who is at playgrounds all the time it is a really troubling rule–taking advantage of prejudice. Sort of like being able to drive without fear of being arrested for being brown in Arizona today. I think it would be most effective if parents in NYC stood up to say “Please get rid of this rule, WE don’t want it.”

    In places like Central Park or Union Square where there is park and playgrounds, I disagree strongly but with the rule but understand that there are even just bench space considerations in some crowded playgrounds. There are also parks in other neighborhoods where these rules exist because the adults are likely to be drug dealers and the idea is to protect children in the playground area.

    However, there are hundreds of parks like the one on 2nd ave and 20th st which doesn’t have a separate playground area and isn’t in a high crime area. Its a playground and there are benches. This Brooklyn park sounds similar. These locations are where the rules become really offensive because the park becomes limited to people with children.

  25. But RobynHeud, the rally itself would be illegal according to the sign! Now there are two charges. Being an adult, and rallying!

    :shakes head: Back of the bus please!

  26. @jynet, it wouldn’t be a rally, it would be a picnic, with doughnuts and football and tag. Not to mention playing on the swings and climbing the monkey bars. No signs, just too many people for the coppers to ticket. It used to be illegal for blacks to use certain restrooms or eat at certain restaurants. All these laws prove is that we really are going backwards. Congress is the opposite of progress!

  27. Sorry, I’m tired today… the sarcasm didn’t come through well enough!

    I’m all for civil disobedience!🙂 Let me know if you ever get it organized and I’ll fly in!

  28. The most disturbing thing about the comments over there was how many people were going, “Sure, only freaks want to watch children playing.”

    Really? If the sight and sound of healthy children running around gives me a little hope for the future of the human race, that makes me a freak?

    Now that IS terrifying.

  29. I have to suspect that the original motivation for the rule was to prevent the parks from becoming hangouts for rowdy teenagers and twentysomethings, but it somehow got “repurposed” into paranoia.

  30. This needs to be taken to court. If I were a resident of NYC, I would be paying taxes that supported the parks, and therefore I should be able to USE the parks. Unlike a school, my presence there would not be a distraction but rather a deterrent to those who might wish to commit a crime, given I would be there as a witness!

    The city needs to prove that the the majority of adults are dangerous if they are without children.

    Disgusting.

  31. I caught the sarcasm, no worries🙂 I don’t live in New York though, so I won’t be attending any “play-ins” there any time soon. But you better believe if they ever enact laws like that here in sunny San Diego, I’ll whip up a protest so fast the idiots who made the laws heads will spin. If I’m not mistaken, it is written into the Bill of Rights that we have the right to peaceably assemble in any public venue. To state that a certain group of people, whether by virtue of their gender, race, religion or age should not be permitted to gather in certain venues, is to go against everything this country is *supposed* to stand for. Not only do I think we have good cause for a protest, I also think it’s a good cause to bring before the courts, declaring the law uncontitutional, because that’s exactly what it is.

  32. JaneW, I’m with you. The sounds of children’s play make a nice backdrop to my reading.

    I am sitting in a car at the edge of the playground, looking into the playground occasionally, my hands out of sight in my lap. Could I be reading a book and checking on my two older kids while the baby naps in his carseat, or could I be . . . one of . . . THEM???

  33. When my son was a toddler I used to wheel him around the corner in a stroller and let him hang with the old folks at the old folks home….he loved them to bits, and they sure enjoyed him to no end.
    You’re absolutely right, Lenore.
    Divide and conquer is the rule – and this completely anti-humanity type of move just reflects the painful truth – we’re not humans to the beastly machine, we’re consumers – little profit punchers.
    Such a shame. Kids need all the good grace in this world they can get – often beyond just what caregivers are capable of.
    Weird though – I’m so used to the child “must be accompanied by an adult” thing…..now it’s switched to adult needing child for admission.
    Hoo!

  34. Can my Dh and I go to a G-rated movie without our kids? What about stopping for pizza at Chuck E. Cheese (I know, I know… just as an *example*– not really going to do that without children)… Or the local amusement park? Heck, I live near the Mall of America… Can I go into the American Girl store alone? Or do I need to be accompanied by my dd? Or what about the Nickelodeon theme park there? What if I want to ride on the carousel? Can I?

  35. Funny, I thought that we come a long way in the past 50/60 years in terms of segregation.

  36. I totally agree with Marie and others who were alarmed by those *defending* the stupid law. I honestly don’t know what’s scarier – the fact that a law like this exists, or that there are so many out there who are willing to mindlessly defend it… I guess it’s a tie, since it’s kind of a which-came-first-chicken-or-egg problem.

  37. Absolutely unbelievable. I have a few cracks about donuts and the police who ticketed them…I’ll keep those to myself. oops.

  38. God that is really so depressing. It’s hard enough to feel a sense of community sometimes without getting ticketed for eating donuts in a local park. Over the weekend a woman standing in line ahead of me waiting for pony rides (for her kids) turned around in a panic when she heard me say something about the pony. Was I talking without permission to her child at a neighborhood fair? She pulled in her son (at least 8 y/o) who was standing at the most 2 feet behind her and said “Stay close, stay close.” Everyone is a potential enemy. It’s a terrible way to live.

    BTW, is the logic behind adults w/out kids not being allowed to work in the children’s section of the library the same as the one behind the playground law? I was working on a gross-o-pedia book for boys last year and was repeatedly chased out of the children’s section while doing research (without my sidekick in tow as I would not have been able to get any research done WITH him).

  39. What a bunch of nimrods!
    It sounds unlawful.
    Perhaps they should simple close the playgrounds, put the kids in front of screens and call it a day.

  40. So who gave these ladies tickets? Presumably adult police officers, unaccompanied by children. Aren’t the police held to the same laws as the rest of us? Ticket them as well.

  41. Wow…so no adults could ever want to just sit in the park to get fresh air while they eat a donut? Seriously? And no skateboards or skooters either? Where the heck are kids supposed to ride their fun wheels? Worse yet, where is an adult supposed to go to enjoy any green space in the city if they are prohibited from sitting in the park?

  42. Some Philadelphia playgrounds have signs posted to this effect. I always feel like I have to hover a bit closer than I would like to demonstrate that I came with my child.

  43. We have signs at playgrounds here in San Francisco that state “Adults Must Be Accompanied by Children.” Insanity on the west coast as well =(

  44. I think the people supporting the law worry me more than the actual law itself. It can’t be pleasant to live life in that much fear all the time.

    What is going to happen to the kids of paranoid parents when they grow up? The world is full of strangers. You have to interact with them almost daily. How are people who have been taught that every strange adult is a potential harm to them ever going to be able to interact appropriately with strangers as adults? It’s not like we awake on our 18th birthday with a full set of proper social skills and with our childhood fears banished.

    The sad thing is that, not only is this fear crippling their children socially, but it makes them less safe. If they are terrified of every strange adult, where do they go for help if they need it? If their parents are teaching them to fear every stranger, how do they ever learn to trust their own gut? If you teach them that all strangers are to be avoided because they are dangerous, doesn’t that kinda imply that the people that they are allowed to interact with are not dangerous, even if life proves otherwise?

  45. Congrats Brooklyn city council, You screwed up a city near and dear to my heart and made everyone into criminals because you think we might commit a crime. Both my parents were born in Brooklyn, my dog’s name is Brooklyn, I drink beer from the Brooklyn Brewery and I spent a bit of time in Brooklyn visiting family so you can see my attachment to your great city.
    Stop this insanity before you become like the Peoples Republic of Cambridge Massachusetts

  46. cops must have been from Park Slope

  47. I don’t live in New York, but it seems like some citizens need to stand up for their rights. If you live in New York, can you not get a petition going to put up for vote if adults should be allowed in public parks without children? If you make it a law that anyone is allowed in a public park then it solves a bigger problem. I would think enough people would vote for it, especially after this story got out. It’s absolutely ridiculous. We had the police department put up a speed camera along a busy strip in our city and people got up a petition against it, got it put on the city ballots and it was voted down and they had to remove it. If you live in that area, you CAN make a change.

  48. […] Read the rest here: All Adults Are Potential Predators (Even Ladies Eating Donuts a&#116… […]

  49. Wow! Well, at least there is equality between men and women on this one. *snicker*

  50. My nomination for best online comment of the week. If not month.

    Did the officer have a child with him or did his partner fill that requirement?

    http://gothamist.com/2011/06/06/ticketed_for_eating_a_doughnut_in_a.php#comment-221052410

  51. I’m just once again glad I don’t live in the US. Here in Australia we aren’t afraid of our own shadows and don’t enact stupid laws like this one. My wife and I are seriously clucky and quite often approach children and babies…but according to the approach in NYC that would make us pedophiles surely.

  52. Oh, there’s LOTS to make you afraid, very afraid here – the story is nothing short of maniacal, and the comments are peppered with statements that’ll make you lose faith in humanity. But it’s the reporting itself that will plunge you into the depths of despair. The report closes with the statement:

    “Nobody is saying that these women were in the right by sitting and eating their doughnuts on a bench in a playground rather than a park, they weren’t, but should the police have jumped to give them a summons so quickly? What do you think?”

    Really? Freakin’ outrage that those women AREN’T in the right to be sitting in a playground eating doughnuts. And nobody saying so. If they believe that those women weren’t in their rights to sit in that playground, what does the speed in which they were summoned matter?

    I mean, good that this story was bought to us by these folks in the first place at all, but it’s appalling, not to mention menacing (are they afraid of police retaliation themselves?), that they didn’t have the courage to go the whole hog and say the rule is wrong. Instead, they passed that job on to the readers. “What do you think” indeed. — Oh, really, do you? Ya, now that you mention it, I thought it was a stupid rule, too. Uh oh, here comes a . . . they said it first officer!!

    Would it be too overwrought to say this quote applies to this whole sorry state of affairs we find ourselves in? ” All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”.

  53. It’s frightening how many people on that site think the only issue they need care about is whether the cops should have enforced the existing law, and whether they did it right.

    I can understand the argument on that point — with the law in place, how should the cops have handled it? Were they free to do anything else?

    Fine. Discuss that. But a really disturbing proportion of the commenters actually think that’s the only issue worth talking about. Generation after generation learns nothing about the distinction between the right of authority to use power, and their responsibility to use it properly.

  54. This is a lazy law. Like others, I’m guessing its purpose is to preserve a family-friendly atmosphere and keep out the drug dealers, drunks, hookers, gang-bangers and assorted undesireables. There are other ways to do that without criminalizing twenty-somethings eating donuts and old men playing chess, but it’s more work, and they’re probably terrified of charges of “discrimination.”

  55. Great googly-moogly…now people are going to start abducting children just so they can go to the park.

  56. OK. There’s no age posted on the NY sign so if I bring my four boys who range in age from 20-29 years old I’d be fine. I’d probably have to take my ID and their birth certificates to prove they really are MY children. Can children bring their spouses? We have 2 of those too. Or maybe my parents who are in their 80’s could take ME to the park. We probably wouldn’t play on the equipment but we would have a lovely chat at a picnic table or maybe even lunch. How ridiculous! Do the park police blow a whistle every so often and make sure all the adults have a child to match up with? Maybe if I bring a tote bag with juice boxes and snacks I could sit in cognito on a park bench and read. I’d look up every once in awhile and pretend I’m “counting noses” so I could pass myself off as someone’s mom. Seriously!

  57. I read the comments at the Gothamist site and was cheered to see that there were a number of them pointing out the absurdity of this policy, and that they were validated by multiple ‘likes.’ And that the WHY WOULD YOU NEED TO LOOK AT KIDS?!?!?! crazy people were being given dressing-downs. Refreshing!

  58. Mombo — you’re starting to raise some interesting possibilities.

    After all, all of us are someone’s kids.

    And I can be pretty immature.

    So who would this cover?

  59. This is so, so disturbing. I don’t live in NYC, but I live close enough that I usually find myself there once or twice a month. Now if I find myself with some free time on my hands and want to sit outside and read a book I’m going to be completely paranoid about whether I’m even allowed to be there!

    I could *probably* understand if there was some rule about adults not actually using the playground equpiment – the kids shouldn’t have to wait to an hour to use a swing because a 40-year-old wants to use it first, and there may be safety considerations since adults are generally (though not always!) larger and heavier than children. But not letting adults sit on a bench at the periphery of the park is just insane.

    And if the object of this rule is to deter pedophiles, they make a false assumption that there are no pedophiles out there with children of their own (or access to someone else’s children) that they can bring along with them to the park, and thus LEGALLY ogle the children. And I wonder if there’s some sort of required adult-to-child ratio? For example, could 4 adult married couples show up at the playground and hang out as long as at least one of those couples brings a single child?? Or is there some sort of one-child-per-couple rule?

    Oh, and I agree with Elizabeth’s comment above – folks who do live in New York should definitely put together some sort of petition and try to change this rule.

  60. Oh, and regarding the photo posted by dannyb – It says that the rules prohibit, and I quote, “adults except in the company of children.” But if there are children at the playground, even if they aren’t yours and you didn’t bring them there, by virtue of their presence, technically you are “in the company of children.”

    So really, based on the wording of that sign, I think that the only situation an adult could (or at least should) get in trouble for being at the playground is if there are no children present at the playground at all. Right?😉

  61. From the other side of the Atlantic, I can only say: ?!?!?!?!?
    (Hey, wouldn’t this policy allow childless adults to substract the mantainance cost of public playgrounds from their taxes? I mean, it’s not only that they rarely use them: it’s the fact that they are FINED if they actually set their feet on them. Let the kids pay for them, then)

  62. I can’t quite decide whether this is more funny or more disgusting, it is so ridiculous in every way. So, how long until picnics in Central Park are no longer allowed? And eating a hot dog on the street in NYC? Because technically you are in an open space where children may be found and without a reason to be eating there instead of place specifically designated for eating. Why just limit parks, why not streets? *eye roll*

  63. The rule notwithstanding – and I’ll say fairly that this is one I see broken on a daily basis, along with the “no bare feet” rule (one that makes some degree of sense due to the absurd material the playground surface is made of being able to give serious burns – no, seriously, children have been burned on that stuff) and the “no scooters” rule – it’s worth remembering that the cops in NYC actually have a quota. Everybody knows it, too, they have to issue so-and-so many tickets in a month. Waste of time and money, really.

    This doesn’t make it *right* (and I also agree with others who have pointed out that the rule probably has nothing to do with pedophiles and everything to do with drugs and gangs), but it may help to explain why this happened the way it did.

    As far as “have rules that suit the park you’re in, so only parks with these problems have rules prohibiting grown-ups in playgrounds” (and it’s only the playground that has rules like this, not the main park, again for clarification)… unfortunately, I really doubt you’d be able to convince the city to have different rules for different parks and playgrounds. And we have a lot of both in the city. It’d be a huge hassle, and then you’d get a lot of “It’s okay in THAT playground, why not in THIS playground?” and whatnot. Heck, for my entire childhood the schools didn’t have a *single* snow day (and we had some blizzards then!) because “Well, what if one district has a lot of snow and another doesn’t, or if a kid in a district with a lot of snow goes to school in a district with hardly any? Better not let anybody in the schools stay home on a snowy day!”

    Again, that doesn’t mean that the rules are right or that what happened is right, but let’s keep suggestions within the realm of likelihood, okay?

  64. I am blown away. In my town, old men are often found sitting on park benches, watching the children for amusement. It is a generations-old tradition, for heaven’s sake!!!

  65. I’m a little late to post this, but the website listed on the sign allows for sending a message to Adrian Benepe, Commissioner, Department of Parks & Recreation
    You can fill in the comment form at:
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/maildpr.html

  66. For the record, I sent this:
    Dear Sir,
    I find the rule prohibiting adults from playgrounds except in the company of children alarming. Surely the multitude of other rules and indeed laws should be sufficient to exclude persons deemed a risk to the safety of children. Watching children play is a heart-warming past-time for people of all ages and is not something to be vilified. At best this rule is not well-thought out. At worst it is segregationist and prejudicial.
    Sincerely, Dr. Marcia Taylor

  67. This is sad.

    My husband and I coach 3 youth soccer teams.

    We have no kids.

    And I often use playground equipment as workout tools on my walks and runs.

    This law just makes no sense.

  68. A friend of mine who lives in the neighborhood pointed out that this particular case might actually be part of a trend where police are pressured to maintain citation quotas. He also mentioned that these same precincts downplay or destroy reports of violent crimes to keep those numbers down as well. Here’s an episode of This American Life spotlighting an officer in an NY precinct who refused to cave to such tactics as was eventually ousted by supervisors who were trying to keep it all covered up (http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/414/right-to-remain-silent). Its quite harrowing actually.

  69. Someone should write “Except by permit” on the sign after the adults prohibition.

  70. You have GOT to be kidding me!? Seriously!? I used to go to a playground with a walking track, actually most of the playgrounds around here have walking tracks to walk all the time. Apparently that is not okay. This is absurd.

  71. Instead of banning adults from parks, we should start having kid-free zones. Places should at least have kid-free days– The Zoo, the museum, heck, even amusement parks. If parents are so scared of adults, then maybe they need to leave their kids at home.

  72. I have to agree with farrarwilliams that this statement:

    “Nobody is saying that these women were in the right by sitting and eating their doughnuts on a bench in a playground rather than a park, they weren’t…”

    is almost the most disturbing part of the article. I see the U.S. sliding further every day into mindless acceptance of this kind of authoritarianism, and it scares me. I’m a rule-follower by nature. But rules need to have reasons.

    BTW, cops in certain districts of New York are known to basically invent citations to make their quotas, sometimes while under-reporting real crimes to make their statistics look better. Definitely sounds like there was an element of that in this incident.

  73. Follow-up article from Gothamist with the account from one of the other park-goers who received a summons:

    http://gothamist.com/2011/06/08/police_dont_track_unaccompanied_adu.php

    Not much new here. But you can see the picture of the sign. It looks like this highly important regulation is written in about the same font size as the historical background sign to its left.

  74. Is age not considered a “protected class” in the same way that race and gender is? I’m fairly certain that age discrimination is flat-out illegal, which is why the AARP must now accept anyone who is willing to pay for membership, regardless of age (I believe this was the result of a lawsuit).

    Perhaps I’m mistaken, and if it’s not too late, perhaps someone will be able to clarify this if I am.

    Laws such as this cast a ridiculously wide net, but seem to do more substantially more harm than good. It doesn’t seem like it should be that much more difficult to enforce rules that would allow children first dibs on equipment, and that anyone engaging in suspicious/unruly activity will be asked to leave/arrested.

  75. Glad I’m in Canada. Though, some parents are getting like this =o(

    How would that work, I dunno about NYC, but in my city parks are everywhere. At the zoo, the mall, we have a market/historical site with a children’s museum/theatre. Heck, McDonalds has a park, can’t single adults eat there anymore???

  76. I am with Ashely. They could just have easily made a rule saying any adults misbehaving with or without children or acting suspicious will be asked to leave. Simple enough. But yes, the lawyers ruin it for everyone with all the discrimination suits so that they have to make zero tolerance policies that screw everyone else.

    I am very against this all adults around kids who don’t have kids themselves must be predators. Since I was an adult who loved kids for a very long time due to infertility and just not being ready to have kids yet, this is frankly a slap in the face to me.

  77. ” the lawyers ruin it for everyone with all the discrimination suits”

    LAWYERS don’t ruin anything for anyone. Lawyers can’t just randomly bring lawsuits without clients. Someone other than the lawyer has to actually decide to sue someone and then find a lawyer to handle the case (or do it themselves). If CITIZENS weren’t looking to sue everyone under the sun, lawyers wouldn’t be as prevalent.

    “Is age not considered a “protected class” in the same way that race and gender is?”

    No. Race and gender aren’t even in the same protected class. Race is afforded the highest protection; gender gets medium protection, and age gets minimal protection. Laws can discriminate against someone based on age as long as the law is “rationally related to a legitimate government interest” and doesn’t impact a fundamental right (unfortunately sitting in the park is not a fundamental right).

  78. Could a woman pregnant with her first child sit in this playground? I mean, one could easily argue that she is ‘accompanied by a child.’

  79. Holy shit. Reason #367 why I will never live (or maybe even VISIT) New York.

    Is this common in other cities? I’ve never heard of something like this…

  80. Thanks for clarifying that for me Donna!

    I find your quote to be of interest, so I’ll repeat it:
    “Laws can discriminate against someone based on age as long as the law is “rationally related to a legitimate government interest” and doesn’t impact a fundamental right (unfortunately sitting in the park is not a fundamental right).”

    This raises several other questions for me. Presumably, the means by which this rule can discriminate is based on the fact that sitting in a park is not a right, and that it increases the level of safety for the occupants of the playground/park, something that the government can hold a legitimate interest in.

    As someone else has mentioned, it seems that the State of New York should be required to demonstrate, or at the very least, provide some rational logic, as to how this law is more effective at creating a safe environment for the park occupants than other laws which are less discriminatory.

    Furthermore though, although it is not a fundamental right to sit in a park or playground, with very few exceptions (such as schools) it seems that the public has the right to expect the ability to to reasonably utilize locations that are managed through taxpayer revenue in the public interest. Y’know, PARKS, public roads and the like.

  81. Ashley,

    The government interest in this situation is creating a safe environment for children playing in the playground. The rational relationship would be that adults without children don’t have any real reason to be in the playground (I don’t agree) and may harm children (ridiculous). It is irrelevant that there are less discriminatory means of meeting this objective. Unless race is involved (and the strictest scrutiny applies), the laws don’t have to be the least discriminatory means. The law simply must be rationally related to the ends. Truthfully, if minimal scrutiny is applied, the law will almost always be upheld.

    Nor is age going to be considered the discriminated class. It is going to be childless adults. Adults with children are allowed in the playground so age discrimination doesn’t even apply. Childless adults don’t fall into any protected class.

    There may be some issues with the 1st amendment freedom of assembly. But the freedom of assembly can be limited and playgrounds are built for the use of children, not adults. It’s been awhile since I’ve dealt with this stuff and I hope that I’m wrong, but I think the law would pass constitutionally.

  82. On the other hand, I was in the playground with my 1-year-old one day and this guy, who was alone, was seated on a bench that put his sight line right in front of the slide. He was taking pictures of the kids, including mine, as they came down the slide for about 15 minutes. It’s a view up the dress or between the legs in many cases.
    Then I decided to start taking his picture. He immediately left the playground. Maybe he just wanted to buy some donuts and bring them back to the park bench?

  83. Auntie: Well you handled that well. You scared him off. Easy enough. That is the same thing a cop could have done. No reason to outlaw all people without kids from coming to the playground. Just scare off the questionable ones or leave yourself.

  84. What Dolly said. There’s a huge difference between making use of a park bench near where children happen to be and taking dubious pictures of the children in question. Even in that case, surely the law should be a last resort, either if he didn’t leave when you started snapping his picture or because you were too intimidated to take action – not the default for anyone over 18 being in the general vicinity. Hey, the doughnut-eaters in this story seem to be people who do have children in their lives who they care about – maybe they’d be allies in scaring off the real offenders. I don’t have children of my own, but I like to think I’d intervene if some guy was upskirting strangers’ children in front of me.

  85. It should be the other way around. The police should be making sure that ‘children’ are not entering the park without ‘adults’. It’s interesting to me that there are cops walking around ticketing adults without children. These same cops could spend all that time and energy watching the children…Oh, but then they couldn’t rake in money for the city by ticketing adults.

    What happens when a creative sicko like Phillip Garrido, or a Brian David Mitchell walks into the park with a kidnapped child in order to abduct another child? The cops will be so busy looking at innocent childless people, that a creep with a child will come in and abduct another child.

  86. “It should be the other way around. The police should be making sure that ‘children’ are not entering the park without ‘adults’.”

    No they most certainly should not be. They should be responding to crimes.

  87. Here, here, pentamom! Many of the commentors on the original article said that this park was not in a great area (not from Brooklyn so I don’t know personally). Maybe the police officers should be policing the drug dealers and other criminals some commentors claimed were regularly in this park to make it safe for the kids rather than worrying about donut-eating grad students.

  88. Pedophiles can have children too–biologically, adopted, borrowed, girlfriend’s kid. We should all practice caution in general not turn a blind eye to anyone with a kid.

    There is nothing wrong with sitting on a park bench with a snack. Something obviously was happening to make people thing this rule was necessary. Instead of outlawing anyone without a kid they should have just sent the police around to talk to the creepys and scared them away.

  89. I agree that child segregation is a problem. A couple of commenters have already demonstrated the other side of the problem – people who believe they have a God given right to never see a child, ever. People who believe children should never be out in public, or at least never in a place that an adult would want to go.

  90. I am a childless nanny. I regularly go to parks, usually with the girl I nanny, and sometimes with her older brother as well, but I often go without her. The last two places where I lived were very close to parks, and I frequently went to each of those parks. Where I live now is not as close to a park, but my husband and I made a point to find out what parks were nearby and how close they are. We’ve lived here less than two weeks and have only briefly been to a park in that time, but I imagine we’ll frequently go to some of the nearby parks in the future. We enjoy walking on trails and just sitting on benches and talking. My husband proposed on a bench in the park that was near our old house.

    This law is just ridiculous. Disturbing the peace I could understand. Being impolite, loud, rude, etc. But sitting on a bench in what one can logically assume is a public place eating? I don’t see a problem there. And I am certainly a believer in civil disobedience.

  91. Dolly, LiseyDuck, Don’t forget that without the law, the cops wouldn’t have a leg to stand on — even if I called them, they couldn’t say, hey, you can’t sit there. They probably can’t even say you can’t take pictures of kids in public. If he really were a malevolent predator, what I did might have caused danger to me and/or my child. With the law, I could have been wiser and called for help rather than tangle with a weirdo who, we now know, was up to no good.

  92. Denny, again, although I don’t agree with the rule I don’t think it’s fair that it’s misrepresented as “no going to the park!”

    The rule is specific about applying to playgrounds ONLY. It seems some playgrounds are not obviously playgrounds, but I don’t think anybody can point to one which has trails to walk through. You’re set.

  93. Okay, Uly, and I can maybe get it if they say no climbing on playgraound equipment, especially if it breaks easily or if being used by adults stops kids from using it, but sitting on a bench near a playground is not the same as being on playground equipment.

  94. No, it’s not. (And the equipment doesn’t break that easily anyway.)

    However, as stated by a few people above, the rule was almost certainly implemented to prevent people from using the playground to deal/do drugs or commit petty vandalism, with a secondary hope of keeping people from hogging up the benches and equipment (particularly homeless people) so that parents couldn’t sit down and children couldn’t play.

    Having a rule against any unaccompanied grown-up means that the can shoo out probable troublemakers without having it look like they’re picking on any particular person.

    That doesn’t make the incident that just happened right (an explanation for that probably is some combination of ticket quotas and looming budget cuts), but there *is* some reasoning behind the rule itself.

  95. […] Peadohystery: two women ticketed for eating doughnuts in a playground […]

  96. Maybe it was not that the women were there.. But that they were eating DONUTS!!. We have already had the Twinkie defense for the murder of Mr Milk.
    Think what might happen if the kid’s eat one of the donuts. Before you know it they be cripples with childhood obesity and heart disease.
    Think I’m a nutter. Sorry – just trying to see the humor in a sitation that make no sense. I was a child once and have strong memories of playing on swings etc. Can I as an adult not enjoy the carefree fun of children without someone looking at my smiles and thinking the worst of me. Is this really what we have becom?

  97. SICK

  98. The really sad thing is that this is so anti elderly. In Riverside Park, all of the restrooms I know of are IN the playgrounds. So obviously I am not allowed to go to the bathroom in Riverside Park. When I do a long walk, I have to use the restroom. I guess my days at Riverside Park are over. I plan to call the city info. line about this. It is so patently unfair.

  99. Try calling your politicians, sometimes they care about an issue but have to admit no one has called. Call them all — city council, state assembly, state senate, and why not go on to Congress. Adults deserve public accomodations too.

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