Bad news for people who are into graffiti: According to a story in a recent issue of the Economist, aka the bible of hip-hop[1], a group of scientists conducted several experiments in order to determine whether or not the broken windows theory is true, and it turns out that it is.

The broken windows theory is the theory that, if people see that an area looks fucked the fuck up, and it looks like there might already be crime going on, it'll make them that much more likely to commit a crime themselves. The name broken windows theory comes from the idea that, if a building has a broken window, soon it'll have more broken windows, then the next thing you know, it'll be broken into.

Which all sounds pretty obvious to me: If I'm gonna commit a crime, I might as well do it somewhere where no one gives a shit, like the ghetto. But you know how scientists like to conduct experiments to prove shit that's already obvious. If they work for a university, which I know a lot of them do, they probably get paid the same either way, regardless of the actual worth of the work they do. Or lack thereof.

Plus, I'm sure this will have important policy implications. Lest we forget, the broken windows theory has been the intellectual basis for the NYPD's zero tolerance policy since the Giuliani era, in which mofos have been thrown in jail like it's going out of style just for shit like riding the subway for free, or having some weed in your pocket instead of your sock (a big no-no, I'm told).

I never actually visited New York until the Giuliani era, but when I did, I was struck by how clean (which is to say, how soft) it was. Giuliani and his ilk must have you ninjas shook. I never felt so safe walking in an urban center. Downtown St. Louis is like a ghost town, for the most part, but there's some scary-looking bums down there. But worst case scenario, I could probably just kill a bum with my bare hands.

Homeless guys in downtown St. Louis are like coyote you see in urban areas, in that they look disgusting, and they could probably give you some nasty disease if you aren't careful, but they're too frail and hungry to do much damage to a grown-ass man. I used to run into them all the time when I was mowing the lawn at my parents house, and when they'd see me, they'd just take off running.

But I digress.

The thing about the dramatic improvement of New York is that, you have to wonder if it's only been due to making sure people pay to get on the subway, and that they don't write on anything when they get there. If that's all it was, I'd be all for it. I've gone on the record, on this site and my own site, as saying that I find graffiti to be a soft-ass crime, and only tenuously related to hip-hop in the first place.

But I'm not sure if I'm buying that. I've heard too many stories about people getting shot for eating candy bars, and having plungers shoved up their asses, and so on and so forth. Probably the real reason you don't see any (non-corporate) crime in New York anymore is because all of the bums are either dead or in jail.

That being said, I don't doubt that these scientists' findings are true (like I said, the shit seemed obvious anyway), and I wouldn't definitely be against cleaning up the ghetto, if it's gonna help cut down on crime.

Here's an idea: Since we now know for a fact that cleaning up the ghetto cuts down on crime, why don't we have the police - instead of focusing on choking people out for smoking weed - out there operating weed wackers, and brooms, and shit like that? The ghetto will look better, crime will go down, fat ethnic white guys will still have a job that doesn't require much in the way of intellect... Problem solved!

[1] You'll recall that it was in the Economist that the president of the company that makes Cristal said he doesn't want any rappers mentioning the champagne in their music. Or did he? I seem to recall them doing some other stories re: hip-hop as well. Meanwhile, have you seen the cover of the next issue of the Source, with Biggie Smalls? Say what you will about XXL, but that shit looks classy.