Conservatives hate, hate, hate pesky inconveniences like poor people and facts. And they’ve been awfully busy lately coming up with new and creative ways to make them disappear. (Don’t like the enrollment numbers for Obamacare? Run with a misleading graph and remind the working poor that health care is something evil.)
Some things, though, are harder than others to make disappear with a standard-issue Heartless Magic Wand. Take homeless people. Here is where “compassionate conservative” creativity truly shines. Temperature dropping? Make it illegal to give a homeless person a blanket! Notice too many people hanging out downtown and wearing the same clothes every day? Threaten all 1,500 of them with jail time if they can’t magically squeeze into a shelter built for 240.
Those are just two examples (from Florida and South Carolina, respectively) of Red States inventing new ways to make life tougher for their poorest citizens.
It would be nice to imagine some of the conservatives’ famously trumpeted “compassion” showing up when it comes to people down on their luck and living on the streets – but that’s not what’s going on. So why were we surprised to learn what’s been happening in Birmingham, Alabama – where cops have been showing up to yank the free food out of homeless people’s hands? (Really.)
See, a new law governing “food trucks” has been interpreted to include churches that hand out hot dogs and other foodstuffs to homeless people. Unless these churches comply with new zoning laws and shell out the money for expensive permits, feeding the hungry is now against the law. In fact, it would cost a church the value of 1,700 hot dogs just to be able to hand out free hot dogs.
“I’m just so totally shocked that the city is turning their back on the homeless like this,” said the pastor of one of the churches. “It’s like they want to chase them out of the city!”
Ummm… ya’ think???
Birmingham defended the move, claiming to be protecting the “health and safety” of its homeless population and calling it all part of a “larger plan” — one that addresses the 145% increase in the city’s homeless between 1987 and 2005.
We’re all for health and safety, but knocking free hot dogs out of hungry people’s hands seems a disingenuous way to accomplish it, to say the least.
The good news is some of the churches plan to defy the law completely and keep doing what they’ve been doing. Which means it’s time for heartless politicians to get creative again! If they can’t starve them out of the city, what will heartless politicians try next to get rid of the homeless? What do YOU think?