Thursday, March 19, 2015

Hating the Homeless for Fun and Profit

     Maybe I simply have a unique vantage point on this issue, but I will simply never understand why the (seeming) majority of society cannot see homeless people as fellow human beings in need of help.
      My local library has insulting signs posted on every entrance stating that "for sanitary reasons" patrons are not allowed to bring luggage bags on wheels, items inside plastic shopping bags, or more than one bag into the library. There is no direct sanitary issue there except that the banned items are exactly the sort of thing a homeless person often carries with them. On my trips to the library, I often see a large (relatively clean) luggage container on wheels sitting outside the front entrance, unattended. Obviously, some homeless person who is probably carrying the majority of his personal belongings in that bag is being forced to leave it outside, where anyone could easily walk away with it, in order to use the public library. I have considered editing those signs to replace "for sanitary reasons" with "because we think homeless people are icky."

     Meanwhile, the city is talking about posting a police officer inside that same library to "protect patrons and staff from negative influences." What negative influences might those be? Mentioned in the article are such heinous crimes as "people being a little loud or argumentative, or children not wanting to obey people." I just want to point out that this library does, in fact, employ two full-time security guards. If they can't handle those issues on a regular basis, then I have no idea what they're being paid for, because that sounds like perfectly normal issues for any public place to encounter and in no way do loud adults or rude children necessitate the presence of an officer with a gun. The Library Director herself admits "It’s just to discourage the nuisance factor, more than anything else." So, in other words, it's a totally unnecessary waste of money? Nice to know.
     But I guarantee you that an unspoken part of those "nuisance factors" and "negative influences" mentioned are all the homeless people who, having nowhere else to go in the daytime and possibly looking for information that may help them out of their situation, simply hang out at the library all day. I go to that library all the time to study, sometimes spending hours there, and I can tell you first-hand that it is a very rare occasion when a person with a lot of bags with them creates any problems for me. Yeah, the children playing hide-and-go-seek in the history section can be a pain in the ass, but I doubt a gun would solve that problem in any good way. Maybe another security guard (part-time in the afternoons and weekends?) would deter that particular "nuisance factor" without costing the city $40,000/year.
     What I don't understand is why homeless people aren't welcome at the library. Do the middle-class shitheads working there/stopping in to grab the latest Nora Roberts trash just not want to look at them? They don't take up that many seats and they aren't distracting. Maybe, if we're going to spend $40,000/year to put someone in the library to help deter "negative influences" we could hire a social worker instead of a gun. At least then we might actually help people and no one will get shot.

and, of course:

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