I was hungry…

I was hungry… May 12, 2014

…and you punished people for feeding me:

Italian city to fine people giving food to the homeless

City fathers might want to revisit the parable of the sheep and the goats.

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  • kirthigdon

    Seems to me there have been some instances of this in some municipalities in the US as well.

    Kirt Higdon

    • Alexander S Anderson

      I got a stern talking-to by a cop for doing this in Houston. Apparently it’s illegal without a permit.

  • Pete the Greek

    Totally wrong, I agree.

    I’d say that I don’t think they are doing this because the city leaders got together and said “You know who I REALLY hate? The poor! Yeah! Let’s go get some heavy boots and stomp on their faces!! WOOHOO!!!”

    ‘Health’, is probably not the reason. I’m guessing they don’t want tons of homeless walking around the plaza for the same reason the local cops around here seem to round up the homeless whenever there’s a major sporting event going on: bad for tourism.

    • Steve P

      I don’t believe the goats were accused of premeditated face-stomping, Pete. But if the result is the same – neglecting those in need – we can come up with all sorts of rationalizations and still be wrong. That seems to be mostly how my own sins often get the best of me.

      • Pete the Greek

        I think you missed my point, but I probably should have been more clear.

        I am not saying what they did is ok at all. I just think most people see an article like the one Mark has listed here and think, automatically, that such actions must be based upon some hidden motive of raw hatred like I lampooned above.

        Let’s bring it closer to home: You own a small business that targets primarily foot traffic on a public street. Gradually, more and more and more homeless and needy flock to this location to beg as it is known that people around there hand out more cash. Many simply ask passerbys for some money. Only a very few are belligerent, maybe only a couple are drunk or on drugs at any one time. (I work in areas of the city like this quite a bit). The trouble is, your business will begin to tank, as customers, particularly women with children, don’t want to brave potentially aggressive panhandlers just to reach your store. They will go elsewhere. Now, in this situation, if you say that you don’t think having an army of panhandlers outside your store hitting up everyone who comes for donations (again, most all very polite, only a very few aggressive and/or drunk/high/crazy, the usual breakdown) and think there will be no negative effects on your business livelihood at all, you either have no business sense or you’re lying.

        It’s my bet that this factor played into this law a lot.

        Now, before you call me a pharisee and publican and maybe even a Republican, understand I am NOT saying this law is good at all. It is very unjust. Particularly since the problem I describe above could be solved without fining anyone and simply providing better services for those in need.

        *ON EDIT* From the article:
        “There are 20 or more [homeless] sleeping there and they use it like their own toilet. The situation has become unmanageable; for this reason I’ve had to introduce this ban.”
        – If true, this is a SERIOUS problem, particularly to people who live/work there. (transfer such a situation to the stoop of your house or apartment and you start to get the idea.) People who react to situations like this… I hesitate to imply they are going to be damned to hell as this post does. I think this might merit a bit more investigation before passing judgement.

        Is ALL charitable donation illegal? Is it just on the plaza? Article doesn’t really say.

        *ANOTHER EDIT*
        We didn’t encourage the tramps” he said… Fining those who bring them food is not the answer.”
        – This man sounds extremely naive. There are reasons panhandlers go to certain areas of a city to beg. They don’t flock to abandoned industrial sectors where nobody goes to beg, they go were the people are who give money/food. If you bring regular handouts and even cash to giveaway to a certain spot regularly, you ARE encouraging people to come there. I’m not saying right or wrong, but YES, he IS encouraging ‘tramps’ to show up and stay.

        If I let it be known that I would be giving out regular food and even some cash for free in front of Mark Shea’s home (provided he lives in an urban center, I don’t know), I guarantee you that I could get a semi-permanent crowd of panhandlers parked right off or on his lawn within a couple of days.

  • They are not being neglected. It says there is a refugee center.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      Not the topic of discussion, Manny. Try to stay on topic.

      It is illegal to share my own food.

      To justify that leaves a vocal rightwinger looking less like a lover of liberty, and more like a petty miser.

      • It’s not irrelevant to the topic. There is an order established on how to best deal with it at a local level. The claim above was that people were “punished” for supposedly obeying Christ. Well, that’s not true. They were punished for subverting the process selected for best dealing with the problem. The problem is being addressed by society. I can’t speak to the nuances of the local decision, but I can see how people are best served at a refugee center rather than panhadling haphazardly at a town square. Letting indigenant people congregate is only asking for more problems. One of the best things New York City under Guillani did was force the panhandlers off the streets. Best for the city and best for the panhandlers. Now I agree it seems harsh to fine people for just giving food, but I don’t know the local issues.

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          So not subsidiarity in this case?

          And I will note both your disdain for traditional Franciscans and Dominicans. You say “panhandler”, the Church says “mendicant”. You both mean the same thing, yet worlds apart.

          And you still oppose subsidiarity and support the reduction of liberty. I mean, it’s your life, but it colors your witness on other topics, like US public aid.

          • Colors my witness?? What does that mean? Don’t answer, I don’t care. So you want freedom without organization? You want to drive without street lights or rules? Does your city set up soup kitchens on main street or Broadway? I doubt it. They are on side streets. I’ve lived in New York City all my life and I’ve seen lots of beggars, and I’ve never seen a mendicant. Perhaps the panhandlers, yes, that’s what they are, would get more food at the soup kitchen where it’s organized to feed them. I wonder if I pushed on your libertarianism I would find out if you really are a libertarian. But I don’t care. Enough said. Bye.

  • Pete the Greek

    A couple of other items:

    This New Zealand and a London piece seem to be the primary articles that everyone is linking to, at least in English. There’s not a lot we know on this whole situation. (There are others, I don’t speak Italian).

    We are also not told something very important: what the citizens of Verona think of this. While I am not advocating morality by democratic vote, it would tell us a lot about the situation. A big outrage against the mayor would tell us, for example, that it is little more than a possible publicity stunt by the mayor, who BTW, is coming into an election soon. Large support for it might also mean that there is a perception of a REAL, ACTUAL problem there.

    It feels awesome to exercise outrage at the acts of others, but we really don’t know a lot about this situation from what I can see. Care should be taken.

    In the example I gave as a response to Steve below, would Mark asking the police to remove the vagrants from his lawn and stop me from putting my handout location outside his front door mean he hated the homeless? No, it would not. Those who decried him as a fascist (as many in the linked article do) would be wrong to do so.

  • Jude Thaddeus