Tuesday, August 2, 2016

NPR and Hostile Design

I heard the tease for a report on NPR in the car this morning about what they claim is “hostile design” in malls and businesses: examples include lighting that accentuates acne on teenagers’ faces and classical music played in stores to discourage loitering (really: NPR considers playing classical music in a mall or store to be an example of hostility? It couldn’t be a personal preference of the owner? Or maybe they want to make the place more inviting to older customers who have more money and are more likely to buy more expensive items?), and even more egregiously, lighting in business bathrooms that make it hard for heroin addicts to find their veins so it is difficult for them to inject their drugs in the bathroom.

I agree, especially about the lighting that discourages heroin injecting. This is clearly discrimination against junkies, and it must stop! What are addicts supposed to do: snort their drugs? That’s cheating! In fact, I don’t think NPR’s criticism goes far enough! Businesses must install dispensers filled with free heroin, spoons, lighters, and clean syringes, or else they should be forcibly closed by the government!

I love NPR, but sometimes the things they advocate for and display outrage about are kind of silly. Take the heroin-proof lighting in bathrooms. They really think it’s in bad taste to discourage junkies from hanging around businesses and shooting up in the bathrooms? They are aware that junkies are notorious for criminal activity, aren’t they? That might drive away actual customers and put the business out of business. Also, if a business creates a bathroom environment that intentionally encourages heroin injecting, junkies are likely to pass out or die in the bathroom, when one considers the reputed potency of today’s heroin, and the reported inclusion of fentanyl in street supplies these days. I could totally see some lawsuit for wrongful death being brought against a business by a family whose son or daughter died from a heroin overdose in the bathroom because they didn’t include lighting that discourages drug injecting. In today’s American society, nothing is the individual’s fault anymore; if you drank too much and wrecked your car, it’s the bar or distillery’s fault; if you bought a gun and accidentally shot yourself, it’s the gun’s or the bullet’s fault; if you blasted your headphones and got ringing in your ears, it’s the headphones’ fault. In this environment of greedy lawyers and passing the buck, businesses have to defend themselves against all kinds of potential liability, and if NPR can’t see that, then they are truly blind about today’s societal realities.