Anything Doesn't Go
When is a flawless, gleaming, plate-glass shopwindow a broken window? Boston mayor Thomas Menino had no trouble answering the question after one look at the Nike sneaker shop’s display on his city’s upscale Newbury Street. There, above the company’s just do it slogan, were eight T-shirts bearing, in boldly graphic lettering, such messages as get high, f**k gravity, and dope, this one accompanied by an open pill bottle with skateboards spilling out. The mayor clearly understood George Kelling and James Q. Wilson’s theory that one broken window left unrepaired in an empty building suggests that nobody is watching and nobody cares, sparking more vandalism and disorder, which in turn emboldens the violent and lawless to commit hard-core crimes. Here, the mayor saw, was cultural vandalism: Nike’s fashion statement, so to speak, was that it is trendy to take drugs. And the company was happy to turn its teen and preteen customers into walking billboards for drug use.
Read the rest of Myron Magnet on the importance of stigma.