Stupid Laws of the Week to Vegas and Orlando
The Stupid Law of the Week Award goes to the cities of Las Vegas and Orlando, both of which have sought to restrict or outright ban people from feeding the homeless in the parks of those cities. You can feed your family at a park in Vegas, and you can feed your friends and neighbors if you have a picnic there in public, but you can't give a sandwich to a homeless person in a park. In Orlando, meanwhile, city officials have required people to pay for a permit for the privilege of giving food to the homeless at a park.
I am writing about these ordinances now because they are so blatantly unconstitutional, not to mention stupid and unenforceable, that they won't last long on the books. But of course they will cost both of those cities plenty of time, energy and money defending the effort in court from the litigation that is sure to follow. When you read the stories linked above, don't you think about the first President Bush, who asked us all to become "a thousand points of light" to help those left fortunate than ourselves? And don't you then find it bizarre that local officials would try to thwart precisely the kind of private sector support that is a big part of the push to help keep people off the public dole?
The new law is especially offensive In Las Vegas because it seeks to criminalize or fine people for feeding homeless people. Can you imagine how the police are supposed to enforce that? Can you imagine why the police would want to enforce that when Las Vegas has monumentally more important crime problems with which to deal? Vegas doesn't want compassionate citizens "luring" homeless people out to parks (like they were pigeons out for breadcrumbs) because then public drunkeness or litter or crime can become a problem. Of course, the solution would be to simply enforce the existing laws against public drunkeness, litter or crime. But apparently that's not good enough for the folks who ask the rest of us to go to Las Vegas to gamble, drink and visit prostitutes. By the way, you've got to love a city where it is legal to pay for sex but illegal to give away a sandwich in a park.
Cities all across the country have tried for decades now, since at least the Reagan era, to try to marginalize the homeless-- to make it harder, in effect, to be homeless, as if the designation and lifestyle always is a choice, which it is not. This is just the continuation of that sad trend taken to an absurd end. But the civil rights lawyers are circling, and the lawsuits are on the way, and if I were the judge I would make those city officials who came up with the bright idea of preventing the homeless from being fed in public, and not the taxpayers, pay the costs of the ligitation that is to come.
Have a great weekend. Stay cool.
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Posted by: Constitutionalist | July 28, 2006 06:18 PM
Posted by: John | July 28, 2006 10:35 PM
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