Warning signs

From the “Metropolitan Diary” feature of 26 April in the New York Times (it’s a regular Monday thing): “Signs of the Times”, a wry poem by Mel Glenn about the following warning posted on the Q train:

Assaulting M.T.A. personnel
is a felony punishable by
up to 7 years in prison.

Why would the MTA [here I do not follow the NYT‘s fanatic attachment to periods in initialisms, though I do wonder what was on the actual sign] caution people against assaulting its personnel? Would potential assaulters be deterred by the warning? Would they not already understand that assault is a serious matter?

Glenn’s poem went on to suggest:

Maybe other signs should be
displayed as well:

Do not trip strangers on the

Avoid attacking people who sell

Refrain from accosting
reference librarians.

[I would add: And do not deface subway signs.]

6 Responses to “Warning signs”

  1. Jens Fiederer Says:

    Decades ago I read a notice, on a mailbox I believe, warning that killing mailmen during the performance of their duties was a federal crime. Not understanding the distinction between a FEDERAL and a plain old crime, I was baffled….(“what? so killing non-mailmen must be OK????”)

  2. Jonathan Lundell Says:


  3. arnoldzwicky Says:

    To Jonathan Lundell: Cool (and on the periods front, just as I suspected). This sign says:

    Assaulting MTA New York City Transit subway personnel is a felony punishable by up to 7 years in prison.

    Even more monitory than the version Glenn quoted.

  4. Chris Says:

    There are signs in almost every UK public facility (such as post offices, trains, buses, hospitals, and the like) warning that assaulting the functionaries thereof is a crime. I suspect this is more for the comfort of the functionaries than it is to ward off potential assaults. Of course, for those of us who are not likely to assault anyone, much less a government employee, this is baffling. But if I were a nurse, to be constantly reminded that anyone who assaults me while I’m performing my duties will be heavily punished might give me a crumb of comfort while I was being pummeled.

  5. The Ridger Says:

    Washington DC Metro buses have the same sort of sign. I’m with Chris: I expect it’s more for the drivers than the passengers, though on the other hand, a lot of people don’t really think that punching someone will put them in jail…

  6. David W. Fenton Says:

    I believe that the reason for the notice is that these laws increase the penalty over what would be the case if you assaulted a non-employee of one of the transit services. FWIW, a similar notice is found in all New Jersey Transit busses.

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