Jun 25, 2011

Criminalizing Homelessness



It has become increasingly evident that this country has taken a turn towards the worse, as it relates to taking care of the less fortunate.  One of the most well known moral rules, whether you are a Christian, a Buddhist, a Muslim, an Atheist, or whatever is the so called "Golden Rule".   That is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.   Or to put it in the terms of Bill & Ted: Be Excellent to Each Other.

It seems that over the years though that ideal has gone out the window, and the mantra of so many people has become "I Got Mine Jack!".   We have gone away from the idea that we take care of those who cannot take care of themselves, that we look after those in need, those who are the most vulnerable, those that are the least of our brothers and sisters, and more to the Ayn Randian philosophy of get all you can and fuck the rest.

In Florida recently, members of the group "Food Not Bombs" were arrested for feeding the poor in the park.  This due to the ordinance that was passed years back where you had to get a permit to serve meals to more than 25 people in the park, and that each group could only acquire two permits per year.

*MORE AFTER THE BREAK*




In the past the mayor of Orlando Florida, Buddy Dyer, had called the charitable group "Food Terrorists".   Get that?  TERRORISTS!  For serving the homeless food.   For taking care of the less fortunate, those MOST in need, these people are labeled terrorists.

Now, there's a whole other point to be made about the overuse of the word "Terrorists", but that's for another day.   The point here is that we have gotten to a point in our society that it has essentially become illegal to be homeless.

Perhaps that wouldn't be so bad if it was all their fault, however with the economy in the toilet right now, with many people losing jobs every day, and with the housing crisis, it seems to me that many people are being put into this situation through no fault of their own.

The point that I make a lot when I write about this subject is that so many of these governors and mayors and councilmen and women who pass these laws forbidding the feeding of homeless people, who pass laws outlawing camping within city limits, forbid panhandling, these are people who identify themselves as Christians. 

These are people who identify with a faith that is based around a man who above all else advocated helping your fellow man.  In the Bible Jesus stated, in no uncertain terms, "Whatever you do for the least of my people, you do for me".  Meaning that if you help out your brother in need, it will be the same as you helping out Him.

If you kick your brother in need when he's down, and you ignore your sister in need when she desperately needs help, then it would be as if you are doing that to Jesus Himself.   And that's what these people are doing.   By in effect criminalizing poverty, you are violating the CORE principle of Christianity.

Look in the Bible and see how many times Jesus made reference to abortion.  How often did Jesus talk about keeping Gays and Lesbians from getting married?   Yet how often did Jesus talk about helping out your fellow man?  Helping those who needed it most?

Too many people say they are a Christian, and yet their lives and their actions say otherwise.   These same people who profess to love Christ, do everything in their power to go against those teachings.

I'm sure Jesus was all for giving tax breaks to the corporations, while cutting programs that benefit low income women and children's health care.   I'm sure Jesus was all about giving massive tax cuts to the richest two percent, while gutting and slashing programs that benefit those who are homeless, or who are on the verge of being homeless.

Or you have lowlifes like Rush Limbaugh who mock those who are poor, and mock those who are homeless, and think that everyone who goes hungry is that way by choice or because they are just lazy.  And he mockingly suggest that kids who rely on school lunches, go dumpsterdiving in the summer.


I was homeless for years, and I benefited greatly from organizations that were there to help me out.   Some of those groups were the very kind that are being arrested and kept from helping.   Groups like "Food Not Bombs" who's sole purpose is to provide meals to those who can not afford it.

And we are seeing the local police, not just in Orlando Florida, but all over the map, stepping in and putting an end to it using various loopholes and newly created ordinances.

In Spokane where I live there used to be a group called "Beans & Rice & Jesus Christ" which served the homeless out of a small building.  They helped me out in so many ways, not just with food, but also shelter and more.  The man who ran it, Pastor Chuck, was an ex biker and was just the nicest man.

That place got shut down because they didn't have a food permit to serve meals, and the kitchen they used was allegedly not up to health code.   So in the end, that's just one less place to get a warm meal if you're on the streets.

Another group that used to hand out sandwiches a block away under a bridge was shut down as well, because they didn't have a food permit which allows you to serve and basically says you are up on the health code requirements and food handling rules.

Another option down.   To be clear, there are a lot of options across the country for people on the streets to get meals.   However it seems that these local governments are wanting to keep the homeless situation out of sight out of mind. 

If you outlaw camping within city limits, meaning no sleeping on benches, or in the park, if you start making it a crime to panhandle, then you can wake up in the morning and go to work and not have to see how your policies are affecting the poor of the city.

If you  are a councilman or woman, or you're the mayor, you can walk to work, get your coffee and not have to see homeless people on the sidewalk.  You get to convince yourself that it's not as bad as people make it out to be.

I mean, it's not like you see homeless people around, right?

1 comment:

  1. great article!! unfortunately criminalization of civil society and social movements is a widespread trend nowadays. :(

    ReplyDelete

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