By now, you’ve probably seen the viral video in which the frumpy woman with the Flashdance hair walks around the streets of New York City getting catcalled.
The hidden-camera video was released last week by Hollaback, a group that bills itself as “an international movement to end street harassment.” The video documents the woman, 24-year-old actress Shoshana Roberts, walking the streets of New York for 10 hours as she claims to be the victim of some 100 instances of harassment. (RELATED: Why I’m Not Buying That New York City Street Harassment Video)
Now, The New York Times wants to know if a law should shield white feminist women by preventing black and Hispanic men from speaking to them, and possibly offending their tender sensibilities.
“Should current laws dealing with harassment be strengthened to include catcalling, or will that go too far in trying to control speech and behavior?”
In the video, virtually every man who speaks to Roberts (with comments such as “How you doing today?”) is either black or Hispanic.
While some commenters who responded to the “Room for Debate” piece noted the potential constitutional problems with a law against minority men chatting up white women, others wholeheartedly agreed that men on public streets must be silenced.
“I agree that there should be a law against street harassment,” wrote a commenter named Andrea from Boston. “I am sick of people telling me that a man’s First Amendment right is more important than my right to feel safe in public places.”
Reader SZ agreed.
“There should be a law. It is scary and infuriating. Who are they to ruin my day? Who are they to attempt to diminish me? I have no recourse,” SZ complained, apparently seriously. “Anything I say or do inspires more unwanted attention. The bullies have made the law necessary.”
Another reader, Elliot Podwill of New York City, proved that he has no understanding of current law in his support for a new law chilling free speech.
“Would readers who feel the government shouldn’t interfere in what they regard as basically harmless behavior feel the same if the comments were racist, homophobic, or anti-Semitic?” asked Podwill. “I agree that laws would be hard to enforce, but that’s true of many laws we mostly agree should at least be on the books.”