Thursday, January 13, 2005


Here’s a new one for the list of inexplicable behaviors: shining laser pointers into the cockpits of aircraft.

It’s unclear why anyone would do such a thing, except desperation to find any use for the pointers at all, but it’s surprisingly common. U.S. transportation secretary Norman Mineta said yesterday that there have been 31 reports nationwide of this mischief, aimed at planes taking off or landing, since Dec. 23. (Apparently the keeping of records started Dec. 23, as no other reason for the start date presents itself)

While puzzling over what kind of personality finds it interesting to shine a distracting beam of light into the cockpit of a moving 747 carrying hundreds of people, consider the next-most recent behavior on the list: dirty driving, also called drive-by porn.

It’s when people drive around screening porn on their DVD players. The New York Times wrote about it Oct. 27, noting that last year Tennessee became the first state with a “vehicular obscenity” law. It says that “To avoid distracting other drivers and reduce the likelihood of accidents arising from lack of concentration, no obscene and patently offensive material, motion picture, film, movie, videotape, DVD or other pictorial representation shall be exhibited on a television, monitor or other viewing screen visible to other drivers.” Louisiana followed.

The law was needed because dirty driving “is becoming a growing problem,” Tennessee state Sen. Mark Norris said, “as ridiculous as it seems.”

It’s an odd problem, too, considering that of the estimated 400,000 DVD players installed in vehicles last year, very few can be seen from a driver’s seat. (Andre Gainey, 35, the New York man charged in February with screening “Chocolate Foam” while driving, had a screen set into his passenger-side sun visor — a custom job.) So it’s not typically a matter of driving around watching porn and accidentally revealing it to others, but of driving around showing porn to others.

It’s a plus that most drivers aren’t getting distracted by watching porn on the road. If the owners of laser pointers can resist shining them into the windows of dirty drivers, perhaps they’ll get home in one piece.


Gainey, unlisted, couldn’t be contacted for comment last night. But found a police spokesman to pass on Gainey’s explanation for his dirty driving, which is “that he uses porn to attract women. He told the detectives that he pulls up in front of bodegas and uses the movie as a conversation piece.”

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