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Leave New York Out Of It


If you’ve spent time in New York City, you have almost certainly encountered the phenomenon of someone acting like an asshole and attributing it to being a “New York thing” when it’s just them being an asshole. Danielle Tcholakian has a good column about Jane Mayer’s dismayingly tendentious defense brief for Al Franken, which contains a particularly egregious example of this:

There are also things that simply don’t make sense, and are difficult to read as anything other than Mayer vouching for Franken. Mayer quotes an unnamed adviser calling Franken’s penchant for trying to kiss people on the mouth a “New York kiss,” which it absolutely is not. As a born and raised New Yorker, I can assure you that “a New York kiss” is much more likely to mean getting punched in the mouth for trying to needlessly put your lips on those of someone with whom you have no intimate relationship.

It’s obvious from the opening grafs of the piece that Mayer was in the tank for Franken, but this really removes all doubt:

–The “New York kiss” is not a thing. It is not common practice in New York City to kiss people you barely know on the lips as a friendly greeting.

–Mayer, who was born and raised in New York City, knows perfectly well that it isn’t a thing.

–In any other context, Mayer would use this ridiculous excuse to destroy the credibility of the person offering it and cite as evidence that the many claims that Franken violated women’s boundaries were credible, not pass it along as exculpatory character testimony hoping people won’t know any better. But in this article, for whatever reason, Mayer wasn’t really doing investigative journalism.

Anyway, claiming that your acting like an asshole is a “New York thing” is just the equally silly flipside to “New York is a great city, therefore everything I did there as a white male in my 20s is inherently fascinating.”

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