Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bury Them

by Skald

Its the same almost everywhere.... its not enough that people who are homeless must struggle with the basic difficulties of their situation. No, on top of hunger, the stress of sleeping in public, the elements, etc... homeless people the world over are subjected to brutal harassment.

Its no different in Bangkok. This week, a large group of homeless people were "evacuated" from Sanam Luang... a large public field that adjoins the Grand Palace. By "evacuate" I mean they were rounded up by police armed with clubs, bullet proof vests, and guns... and drug away. What was their "crime": Sleeping? Being dirty and ugly? Making tourists and the wealthy feel uneasy?

Number three is the true answer. The smug and well off are not content to live in their McMansions, drive their obscene vehicles, dine in upscale restaurants. They arent content to drive down wages and bust unions and create unemployment. Nope.Not only do they insist on being smug, safe, comfortable, and pampered... they cant bear to be reminded of the suffering of other people.

The homeless people's crime was existing. Rich people dont like to be reminded that they exist. And they certainly dont want to come in contact with these nasty people. And so the order goes out, the "scum" are rounded up... and shipped off to a warehouse or slum somewhere. Ahhhh... the rich rest easy. Tourists are spared inconvenience. Everyone pretends this is the correct and sensible thing to do.

Disgusting. Criminal. Downright evil. Thats what it is.

The truth is, most countries have now criminalized homelessness. If you are homeless, you cannot exist without being a criminal. If you piss or shit, you are breaking the law ("public urination"). If you sleep, you are breaking the law ("trespassing"). If you rest in one place, you are breaking the law ("loitering"). If you ask for help, you are breaking the law ("soliciting"). If you have sex, you are breaking the law ("public indecency").

What this means in practice is that the police have a license to harrass a homeless person at will. They can interrupt their sleep, prevent them from sitting on a bench, forcibly relocate them. Since every basic human function of a homeless person is illegal... they are automatically criminals. When I lived in my car.. I broke the law everytime I went to sleep at night. Only my clean white face and neat clothes saved me from suspicion and harassment.

This is the ugly truth: The well off, the suburbanites, the "responsible and employed" detest poor people... especially homeless people. And there is no real difference between the latte-liberals and the rabid right-wingers. Both detest the poor. The conservatives would be happy if they could all be gassed in chambers or drowned in the Mississippi (though they'll never admit this openly)... while the liberals want them warehoused and benignly imprisoned out of sight (ie. put in to shelters). The liberals then congratulate themselves for being so generous and high-minded.

Which is why Ive always known that the only hope homeless people have is themselves. Thats why Dignity Village is important.... because its a place where homeless people are taking care of themselves.

Why not a homeless people's union?


Ryan Garou said...

Homeless union - yes. right on. that's something to seriously consider.

I really think the homeless/borderline homeless could become a powerful voting bloc, protest/boycott force, etc....big enough to effect real social change. Problem is dealing with the widespread lack of education, lack of awareness of issues, and lack of access to damn near everything. Even worse problem is the despairing attitude of many people in this situation - they've been told for so long that they're garbage that they've totally come to believe it. They've lost confidence, given up on
the idea that society is something that is supposed to be working for them in a fair balance, not something that exists to perpetually
beat them down, and that they have as much a right to live eat sleep fuck etc. as all the "privileged" do.

It would be a hell of a task but a worthy one. And probably a necessary one, as more and more of the U.S. slides into poverty.

dannyman1024 said...

I hear you man. It's good to see at least some people with opened eyes.