Easy Chair — From the April 2014 issue

Search and Destroy

Download Pdf
Read Online

Gutter punks throw bottles at the cops near Tompkins Square Park, a police cruiser is flipped upside down in Crown Heights, two men fight under the marquee of a Times Square porn theater, and a fearful old woman clutches a pole in a graffiti-covered subway car. It was a photo album of the bad old days of New York — and during the final month of the city’s recent mayoral race, it showed up in a TV ad called “Can’t Go Back.”

The ad didn’t mention stop-and-frisk, the state law that enables police to question and search pedestrians without probable cause. But that was the underlying subject. The Democratic candidate, Bill de Blasio, had said he would reform the practice, a pledge that his opponent Joe Lhota called “recklessly dangerous.” If we stopped the illegal searches, Lhota suggested, crime would swallow us whole.

As fearmongering attack ads go, Lhota’s was pretty slick. True, one of the images turned out to be of a crime scene from December 2012, converted to black and white to give it a suitably old-timey look. But the ad was catchy, and quick to spawn a thousand terrible jokes about the criminal hordes of #deblasiosnewyork on Twitter.

This article is only available to magazine subscribers. If you are a subscriber, please sign in. If you aren't, please subscribe below and get access to the entire Harper's archive for only $45.99/year. Or purchase this issue on your iOS or Android devices for $6.99.

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Download Pdf
Single Page
Share

More from Christopher Cox:

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

THE CURRENT ISSUE

June 2015

Shooting Down Man the Hunter

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Loitering With Intent

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Polite Coup

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Findings

What Went Wrong

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content