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2/7/2007
05:07 PM
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Bloggers Rail Against Proposed N.Y. iPod Fine

It will cost you to cross the street while booging to your iPod, chatting on the phone, or checking e-mail.

Bloggers have lambasted a New York senator's proposal to fine iPod users $100 for listening to tunes while crossing the street.

State Sen. Carl Kruger's bill, scheduled to be introduced Wednesday, would actually ban the use of any electronic device in a crosswalk. So besides iPod users, the proposal also would target people talking on mobile phones, checking e-mail on their BlackBerries, or playing videogames on a portable console.

But the iPod ban is what sparked the most outrage, given the popularity of the Apple device among the Internet crowd. For many in the blogosphere, Kruger just didn't get it when it came to trying to legislate human behavior.

"Would someone please clue in Mr. Kruger people are sometimes retarded, and you can't fix stupid," a blogger in Kruger's home district of Brooklyn said on Pervasivelight 5.0.

Ryan Jones of Dotcult agreed, adding, "What's next? Banning deaf people from crossing streets as well?"

Kruger was spurred into action by the deaths of three pedestrians who started crossing the street while distracted by an electronic device, according to the Reuters news agency. "Government has an obligation to protect its citizenry," Kruger told Reuters. "This electronic gadgetry is reaching the point where it's becoming not only endemic, but it's creating an atmosphere where we have a major public safety crisis at hand."

Kruger was unavailable for comment Wednesday, and his office did not return requests for comment in time for this writing.

For bloggers, Kruger's bill exemplified a "nanny government" that was over-protective. "Perhaps, instead of criminalizing stupidity (which rarely works), a targeted PR campaign on the subways could remind iPod users to 'turn down & tune in' while they navigate the mean streets," said New York resident Michael Rose, of Tuaw.com, The Unofficial Apple Weblog.

Some bloggers also wondered how busy New York police would find the time to hand out tickets to gadget-distracted pedestrians, while others said Kruger was unfairly targeting the victim. "Way to blame the victim, Carl. While people should pay attention on the street they always have the right of way, whether they're listening to music, jaywalking, or on a flaneur stroll," said Will of Razor Apple.

For John Little of Blogs of War, Kruger was creating Big Brother government in the guise of protection. "Liberty would quickly cease to exist if all of their proposals became law. Their good intentions will eventually result in each one of us being wrapped in a cocoon of oppression if we don't pay attention," Little said.

At least one blogger and iPod user, while disagreeing with Kruger, was sympathetic to his cause. "I don't think Kruger's legislation will be successful, but I have to admit that Kruger has a point," wrote Dan Savage of Slog. "I've almost gotten myself killed three or four times in the last six weeks. Not by strolling out in front of cars -- I look both ways even with my iPod on -- but because I, uh, can't really hear anything."

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