Friday, March 21, 2008

Fascinating Comment re A Tale of Two Cities

I don't know if all bloggers are the same but whenever an Anonymous comment comes in I feel a certain sense of apprehension. Why? Because they're often left by creeps crawling out from underneath their rocks, simply to spit out some [often] nonsensical poison. How pleasantly surprised was I to receive the following eloquent comment. It's so good that I'm reposting it here:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A Tale of Two Cities":

Similarly, New York City, once famous for the mayhem on its streets, is now a far more civil and pleasant city than Vancouver (in terms of harassment by street people). On a four-day trip there last fall, I saw three homeless people and was bothered by panhandlers once. In Vancouver, I beat that rate after within a block of my apartment.

I believe that the public perceptions of city residents plays a large part in the aggressiveness of panhandlers. In Vancouver, people have been encouraged (by ineffectual governments seeking to evade their responsibilities by redefining the problem, and by highly effective addict advocacy groups such as DERA, VANDU, the Portland Hotel Society, etc) to feel sorry for the street people, to "help" (that is, enable) them. Vancouverites have bought in to the lie that addiction is a mental illness, that the poor street people are incapable of choosing any other life for themselves, that giving them money somehow helps them.

I see it all the time - beggars working the lineups at nightclubs, beggars claiming to be hungry, beggars hectoring people, following them for blocks. And people, rather than reacting with disgust and disdain, give them money - sometimes from fear (which is well-grounded, given that Vancouver beggars know they can operate with impunity), but usually out of some sense that they should help the poor people. (As if financing a drug habit helps anyone.)

Beggars will stop if people stop giving them money. Vancouver beggars get more numerous and aggressive because it works - because Vancouverites buy into the illogic. New Yorkers (and, I suspect, Hawaiians) do not.

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