gall and gumption

Thursday, December 30, 2004

And Getting Meaner

This is a post I wrote and saved a few weeks ago, but I'll post it anyway.

According to this year's annual report from the National Coalition on the Homeless, California is the meanest state of all when it comes to the civil rights of the homeless.

If you want to know what it is like, read Mike Davis's City of Quartz, a history of 20th-century Los Angeles.

In the meantime Sonoma County, in its stand-up forward thinking wisdom, is making sure that the state keeps its leadership position on this issue. Today's Press Democrat does not mention the Coalition's report. Don't you just love that headline? It is a work of art. It is a real shout out of loyalty to the paper's real consituents, among whom the homeless do not feature.

The homeless, you see, are nobody's constituents. Where are people supposed to sleep? You have public servants going about at night waking up the public for sleeping on public property. So who does the public property belong to?

I know there is some level-headed type who will say, "But the law applies to all," so presumably if some owner of a vineyard house decided he felt like parking and sleeping in his car at the side of the road he would be sent on his way too. But, oddly, those people never seem to feel like sleeping in their car at the side of the road.

William Blake said, "One law for the lion and the lamb is injustice." This ordinance
is a perfect example of that principle.

What the residents of West County are cheeering about is that they have now transferred what is a small problem for them (view obscured, litter, having to look at poor people) onto the shoulders of people for whom it is a big problem. Daily the body demands sleep, daily the homeless will have to struggle to find it. If they move away, it costs money that they can't spare which will make their situation even more tenuous. This transferring of the burden of the problem onto those least able to bear it is easy to do, because they are also least able to resist the transfer. But it isn't a solution.

You can only think it is a solution if you think that the point of it is so that you don't have to be troubled with thinking about the homeless people. Rich people buy tracts of land and shelter themselves from the sight of poverty and distress. People who aren't rich go and get the police to clear the view for them. Revolting. Just revolting.


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