[Hpn] Re: Street People

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Wed, 07 Feb 2001 15:51:29 -0700

I'm stumped. When I take the time to write a reasoned rebuttal to a posting,
people get indignant and want to leave the list. When I tell Christian
iconoclast Jeremy Reynalds to go f*ck himself, I get an inbox full of fan
mail off-list. 

Maybe I should try drawing pictures instead.


PS- I'll direct this message to someone who can take you off this "lift"

on 2/7/01 4:25 PM, Abigail D Breckenridge  ( at
A_BRECKENRID@ColoradoCollege.edu wrote:

> Please take me off this lift
> -----Original Message-----
> From: chance martin
> To: hpn@lists.is.asu.edu
> Cc: HOBOMATT@aol.com
> Sent: 2/7/2001 3:05 PM
> Subject: Re: [Hpn] Re: Street People
> And the award for the most creative re-articulation of the "final
> solution"
> goes to Matt Parkhouse, RN of Colorado Springs.
> Seriously, anytime we find ourselves qualifying, judging and sorting
> "good"
> or "deserving" homeless people from "lifestylers" (which itself is a
> myth
> lifted straight from the propaganda of the Heritage Foundation, among
> others), we're playing right into the hands of those who feel that
> homeless
> people should enjoy different or fewer civil rights than everyone else,
> and
> that police and jails are the indicated response to this kind of social
> problem.
> Actually, I find the term "street people" pretty damned offensive in
> itself.
> It's kinda reminiscent of "useless bread-gobblers," a favorite euphemism
> of
> Hitler's SS referring to Jews and Gypsies. Labeling, as any propagandist
> or
> semanticist will agree, is the essential first step in disempowering and
> scapegoating any group of people.
> I posted the article because I feel it's a great example of
> anti-homeless
> propaganda masquerading as "human interest." There's a pretty vicious
> quality-of-life campaign currently flourishing in Florida -- targeting
> everyone from panhandlers to street paper vendors to Food Not Bombs
> members
> committing the "crime" of feeding hungry people in public.
> Quality-of-life
> campaigns are always supported by local corporate media. It was intended
> as
> a object lesson in contemporary propaganda. I'm sorry I didn't make my
> intent in posting the article clear, I certainly didn't mean for it to
> be a
> rallying point for formerly homeless people with latent self-acceptance
> issues.
> It's a given that human beings came into existence in the outdoors,
> regardless of whether you believe in evolution or creationism. I find it
> pretty ironic that our society judges them or criminalizes them for
> doing
> that today. And if you look at the history of the Mendicant religious
> orders
> and some of the more popular "heresies" of the last millennial era, you
> will
> find that our word "beggar" is derived from "Beghard," which is what
> folks
> commonly called certain religious aesthetes who believed their god would
> provide their needs through the kindness of strangers. Most of these
> "heretics" died in the inquisition. (Or should I say, the LAST
> inquisition.
> I get the feeling some of GWB's fundamentalist buddies would welcome the
> opportunity to dust off the rack and the thumbscrews and start
> collecting
> kindling for the stakes.)
> I wish the folks who call themselves "Christians" were as open to the
> Spirit
> of the Beghards today. Someone told me long ago that the only spiritual
> use
> for money was to give it away. When I give a panhandler money, I don't
> trip
> on what they might be using it for because that's really none of my
> business. I operate from the idea that they must need it, or they
> wouldn't
> be asking. And how do I know that I wouldn't use the money for drugs or
> alcohol if I didn't give it away, anyway?
> As for homeless people as "noble victims," I don't know if being a
> victim
> equates to nobility, or if it absolves a person from any responsibility
> for
> their situation, but every poor and homeless person is undeniably a
> victim
> of capitalism, as is every addict (the illegal trade in drugs is the
> ultimate expression of capitalist values -- small wonder the war on
> drugs is
> lost), or every person of color trapped in the prison/industrial
> complex.
> What capitalism ultimately does is strip us of our humanity by turning
> us
> into commodities representing profit, whether it's the money the service
> provider receives for each shelter bed, the money billed from each hour
> of
> "case-management," or the slave labor we provide through workfare
> programs
> and community service sentences from "homeless courts."
> Maybe you've got a problem with some of those "lifestylers" that you
> know,
> Matt. I know homeless people that I cross the street to avoid myself,
> but if
> I don't advocate for those homeless people who also happen to be
> assholes,
> then I don't have any business advocating for ANY homeless people.
> Besides, everyone knows what an asshole I can be.
> As far as the aesthetics of the photojournalism that accompanied the
> story
> go, we have a saying about that around here:
> "Poverty Is Ugly. Ignorance Is Uglier."
> You can take that anyway you like, Matt.
> peace,
> chance
>> We have our "street people" here in Colorado Springs as well. It is a
>> sub-group our providers would prefer to not discuss. In any dialog on
>> homelessness however, they NEED to be discussed. They are a minority
> (perhaps
>> 10% to 20% locally) of the diverse group of "the homeless". They are,
>> however, VERY visable. Our providers here would prefer the the general
>> populace believe that all homeless are "noble victims", especially at
> fund
>> raising time. We hear a lot about the circumstances of homeless
> families, the
>> dis-abled and the those who life has struck down. The people described
> in
>> this article are more what I would call "lifestylers". It isn't a
> healthy
>> lifestyle but for some, it is a chosen one. My values about this:
> Choosing to
>> "live outside" is similar to choosing the Goth lifestyle, the biker
>> lifestyle, embracing the drug culture, going Punk or following the
> Grateful
>> Dead. If that's your choice, fine; but don't ask me to support it.
>> if you want to escape the consquenses of the choice and move toward a
>> healthier life, helping hands MUST be available. In my opinion, too
> many
>> "homeless programs" are, in reality, "street-life support programs".
> By the
>> way, if you go to the url provided, you end up at the Newspaper
> website. The
>> photos there, missing from the HPN List email posting are NOT pretty.
>> Matt Parkhouse, RN;
>> Colorado Springs, CO