Criminalizing acts of charity

Is this for real?  Click here for a view into the most rotten caricature of callousness I can imagine.

February 13, 2014

Feeding the homeless is about to get harder as a new policy is set to begin this Saturday, Feb. 15, in Columbia, SC. Charities and non-profits well be required to pay a fee and obtain a permit 15 days in advance in order to feed the homeless in parks.

One impacted charity that was interviewed by the Free Times, Food Not Bombs, has been serving food to the homeless in Finlay Park every Sunday for 12 years. The group’s organizer, Judith Turnipseed, noted that the group has an impeccable track record and always tidies up after the meal. But with the new crackdown, Food Not Bombs will have to pay at least $120 per week for the right to feed the homeless.

“We have no formal organization,” Turnipseed says. “We don’t have a 501(c)(3). We’re just a group of people who come to the park and bring food and share it with anyone who comes. That includes people who are homeless, and people who have a home but are hungry. It’s a people’s picnic.”

Since the Columbia City Council approved its exile plan in August, the city has been trying to herd its homeless people to a shelter on the outskirts of town and keep them away from downtown. If charities continue to provide food in downtown parks, the thinking goes, it will allow homeless people to continue to live downtown, rather than being forced to leave.

Turnipseed is currently considering legal action to prevent enforcement of the measure.

Columbia is part of an unfortunate trend of cities that have decided to crack down on charity groups that feed the homeless. Others that have passed or are considering ordinances include Raleigh, St. Louis, Harrisburg, and Los Angeles.

This seems wrong.  On many levels.  It is the criminalization of charity, of human connection, and of human decency.  There is nothing wrong with providing food to those less fortunate; there is something deeply wrong with regulating it.  Human kindness and empathy is something in which no government should intercede.  I’m sure they think it attracts homelessness that groups are willing to feed them, that somehow it encourages people to be homeless and for the homeless to congregate in parks in which food is being served.  Boo-Hoo!  You’re forced to interact with the unwashed masses of charitable do-gooders and their unsuspecting victims! Those homeless people would probably have jobs and cars and cheap luggage if we weren’t busy providing them free food in the park…  OOHHH the shame and inhumanity of it all!

Soon it will be debtors prison for you all…

Remember the famous warning:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

– Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

This is how it always starts. It reminds me of the fact that debtors’ prisons are making a huge comeback in the U.S. It’s always easiest to pick on the weakest members of society, which is why we shouldn’t. (ZeroHedge).