Scrooge Lives

There's a very interesting discussion going on in a comment thread over at Feministe, spawned by a reprehensible post squished out by a blogger named Rachel Moran. She titles the post "No Homeless People Were Harmed During The Making of this Film," which comes across as a pretty snide attempt at humor when you read the content of the post. Apparently, Rachel has quite a bit of disdain for homeless people that dare to enter her airspace. (bolds mine)
Eddie also had an interesting story to tell about a homeless man, in Naples, who asked him for a dollar. Eddie told him no and got in his Caddy and the homeless guy started punching the glass, so Eddie got out of the Caddy and the homeless guy punched him in the jaw and Eddie left the homeless guy twitching in the street.

He told us this story at Mastry's during the second round and when he was done, me and Lil Sis went up to the bar to order more. I was waiting for the bartender to come around when this scraggly-haired homeless guy comes up behind Lil Sis.

He had his claw extended at her and he was probably about to touch her hair, because she is startlingly platinum blond and the light at Mastry's flickered an excellent, sexy pale blue onto her hair, like she was in a video game where she was, like, the leader of a gang of fierce cougar-girl mutants or something.

"Back up," I said to the homeless guy in very low, dangerous tones.
Now, while "Eddie's" story sounds a little suspect to me (but I wasn't there, so who knows?) I found her weird tone to be rather striking. Leaving aside the "fuck, yeah!" response to her friend leaving a homeless man "twitching in the street," she begins this weird description of the confrontation between her sister and "this scraggly-haired homeless guy," where her sister is described as something more than human, and the homeless man is distinctly less than human, a clawed monster that cannot keep itself from touching the startlingly platinum blond shiny thing!

The story goes on, with much of the indignant "how dare these people speak to me" elements, along with more stories of Eddie getting beaten up by other homeless people, and how the "homeless problem" in her area is "completely out of control." And then things get really interesting:
Vagrancy should not be enabled. When you see a fucking bum stumbling drunk up on you, slurring about needing gas money or pleading with you that he is a good person, you just gotta ignore him and if he follows you, turn on him and sharply tell him, "Fuck off. Stop following me."
Real alleviation of the homeless problem requires broad action - cops telling them to move along, shelters to get them off the sidewalks, feeding stations, mental health support, day labor programs. Your five bucks tells the homeless man that he can get by panhandling in St. Petersburg and, frankly, that is not OK with me.

We are thinking about proving this nuisance and need for civil action by making a short film called "Eddie Rolls on the Homeless," whereby Mark secretly videotapes me and Lil Sis in a variety of situations to see how many homeless people approach us and, then, how many of these situations escalate into harrassment. Then, he's gonna videotape Eddie in the same scenarios, only Eddie is going to beat up every homeless person who escalates the contact after being told that his panhandling is illegal and annoying.
Yep. "We're going to lure and agitate homeless people into getting violent, then kick the shit out of them." I find it really interesting how she goes from "solutions" like shelters and soup kitchens to violent assault. Throwing in a mention of "mental health support" while dehumanizing and advocating violence against the homeless is a meaningless gesture; it's obvious she's never given the slightest thought to the availability or effectiveness of support means for the homeless.

The discussion at Feministe is very interesting. Much of it is horrified reaction to this post, but there are also those that, while not supporting attacking the homeless, bring up bad or even violent confrontations with homeless people that they've had in the past, insisting that something needs to be done.

But here's the thing; they consistently speak as if a few violent homeless people are somehow representative of every homeless person you'd meet on the street. (One commenter even compares them to rampaging alligators.) In addition to this unfair generalization (and leaving aside very important aspects of this problem, like mental illness), they also seem to forget that homeless people are human beings that have to abide by the same laws as everyone else. When discussing violent altercations with the homeless, the question always is "What do we do about these people? What are you supposed to do when a homeless guy starts following you down the street, screaming at you?" Well, how about call a cop? It's as if we're in such a hurry to get the homeless out of sight, out of mind, that the only responses to an attack by a homeless person is either ignoring them completely or beating the shit out of them. This is not to say that I don't think a person is justified in using violence in self defense; it's that people are reacting as if these were stray dogs being discussed.

Check out the comments, and if you're interested, there's a lot more talk going on at Majikthise, Blurbex, Progressive Gold, and more on a different but similar story at World-O-Crap. Like aggressive pit bulls, apparently the only solution for homeless people that don't immediately scuttle out of sight is a good, hard beating.

Rachel, meanwhile, pulls an Ann Coulter:

I am astonished at how many people think that BAR TALK means my boyfriend is gonna film my sister’s boyfriend beating people up.

And contrary to your rambling opening, I’m not taking the post down. It’s on my MySpace page, it’s on my own blog and it’s at Sticks of Fire. I stand by everything in it, because I expect there are people in the universe who are not so literal as to think I am actually beating up homeless people.

"Jeez, can't you take a joke? I was just kidding!"

Of course, your "how cool!" reaction to your sister's boyfriend bragging about beating the shit out of homeless people would in no way influence people into thinking you might actually do this.

And you writing about this would in no way make other, more extreme people feel completely justified in doing exactly what you said.


<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Hi! I'm the American Dream - 5'10", 36-26-36, shiny hair, blue eyes and a smile. I wear fur and diamonds. I dance like a dream. I make you happy.
No, you're not, and no, you don't. This all sounds too familiar:
The clerk, in letting Scrooge's nephew out, had let two other people in. They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now stood, with their hats off, in Scrooge's office. They had books and papers in their hands, and bowed to him.

'Scrooge and Marley's, I believe,' said one of the gentlemen, referring to his list. 'Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr Scrooge, or Mr Marley?'

'Mr Marley has been dead these seven years,' Scrooge replied. 'He died seven years ago, this very night.'

'We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving partner,' said the gentleman, presenting his credentials.

'It certainly was, for they had been two kindred spirits. At the ominous word liberality, Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and handed the credentials back.

'They are. Still,' returned the gentleman,' I wish I could say they were not.'

'The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?' said Scrooge.

'At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge,' said the gentleman, taking up a pen, 'it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.'
'Are there no prisons?"

'Plenty of prisons,' said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

'And the Union workhouses.' demanded Scrooge. 'Are they still in operation?'

'Both very busy, sir.'

'Oh. I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,' said Scrooge. 'I'm very glad to hear it.'

'Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,' returned the gentleman, 'a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?'

'Nothing!' Scrooge replied.

'You wish to be anonymous?'

'I wish to be left alone,' said Scrooge. 'Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned-they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.'

'Many can't go there; and many would rather die.'

'If they would rather die,' said Scrooge, 'they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

(Thanks, Lance.)

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