Muzzle the Bums!
The government shutdown didn’t last long enough last week to stop a federal judge from overturning an Arizona anti-begging law. He said it was unconstitutional. He said it infringed on the “free speech” rights of beggars.
Since when do beggars have rights? (We already know they don’t have choices, since beggars can’t be choosers.) The City of Flagstaff clearly understood the difference between tax-paying, property-owning, police-protected citizens and worthless bums. During a one-year period monitored by the busybodies at the ACLU, Flagstaff police arrested an estimated 135 bums on “suspicion of loitering to beg.” In some cases, the offenders were jailed, which maybe was a better place to spend the night than underneath a freeway overpass. The ACLU filed a federal suit on behalf of a 77-year-old-woman who was arrested when she asked a hard-working and perspicacious undercover officer for bus fare. (And if that’s not a magnificent use of law enforcement tax dollars, what is?)
Courts nationwide have ruled that laws aimed at curbing what’s known as “aggressive panhandling” — something we know about too well, living near Hollywood Boulevard and its Walk of Costumed Beggars — are totally legal. But s0-called “peaceful begging” cannot be curtailed, thanks to the Fist Amendment.
There is no such thing as peaceful begging. It’s an inherently disturbing act. Beggars remind us regular people how screwed up irregular people are, what losers they can be. Those of us with computers and cars and a roof over our head, we’re winners. And isn’t it a little rude to have our triumphant idyll interrupted by someone who could have had what we have, but chose instead to be a bum? Without a job? Is that our fault?
The good and kind people of Flagstaff, a subset of the good and kind people of Arizona, famed for their compassionate laws, seemed for a glorious time to have found an elegant solution to the inelegant problem of human detritus. Then you know who, the government, stepped in to foul things up. Isn’t it always like that?
In the meantime, those of us who deserve to be protected from these annoyances, just as we deserve to be protected from mosquitos and terrorists, will have to find a better way to discourage society’s losers from asking for help.