Photo from AP/Julie Jacobson
“It’s wrong, it’s just wrong,” the mayor said of the painted ladies. “I don’t like the situation in Times Square.”
De Blasio said he understands that the women have a legal right to be there and that it’s not a crime to be naked from the waist up. But visitors have a right to pass through the Crossroads of the World without being molested by nearly naked panhandlers, he said.
“As a progressive who believes in civil liberties and who believes in our First Amendment, I understand the legal challenge here,” he said. “But I don’t think that’s the end of the discussion. We are going to look for every appropriate way to regulate all activity that involves either begging, or asking people for a contribution based on the opportunity to take a picture for example.”
These statements followed an editorial suggestion from the New York Daily News to designate the Crossroads of the World, Times Square, as park space where visitors are safe from panhandlers.
Another option open to the people of The Big Apple is to designate the girls in the buff as a business and regulate them just like every other with the whole kit and kaboodle of the state’s labor department and relations board. If the girls choose to organize and call themselves the T & A Cooperative, the hookers might want to join.
So, Mayor DeBlasio has a problem. The nearly naked but for body paint and panties exhibitionists have a constitutional right, apparently, to be in Times Square begging tourists for funds in exchange for taking pictures with them. The tourists have a right to walk through one of the most famous intersections in the world and not be accosted. However, none of the laws seem to square with each other or traditional public decency, the flaunting of which, naturally, is the point. Well, something has to be done. This writer’s suggestion: call the girls’ parents and grandparents. If their elders are anything link mine, that might be the only way to get it to stop.