It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.–from Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
So let’s be clear that Oklahoma City Councilors Pete White and Ed Shadid didn’t join with the Grinches on the council to prohibit “panhandling” on smaller medians next to intersections in the city.
But the Grinches on the council, Mayor Mick Cornett, the wealthy Meg Salyer, who started this latest skirmish in the war on Oklahoma’s poor, James Greiner, Larry McAtee, David Greenwell, John A. Pettis Jr. and Mark K. Stonecipher, well, they all have hearts “two sizes too small.” Maybe they need larger shoes. No excuses. The vote was 7-2, according to media outlets, with only White and Shadid apparently looking for alternatives to such a draconian action.
Why qualify it? The votes in favor of this new law were immoral and probably unconstitutional. Supposedly, the idea is that this is to protect the safety of people asking for money on smaller street medians. There are other ways to deal with that. Homeless advocates, Oklahoma Department of Human Services divisions and related offices, state and local mental health agencies and, yes, law enforcement officials can help keep people away from dangerous street spaces where people might ask for money to survive. There are plenty of laws and ordinances that allow officials to keep people safe. We don’t need to arrest or fine anyone or criminalize the poor in order to do so.
I realize a supposed “panhandler” was killed recently in the city while trying to ask for money in a late October accident, but that’s not what initially motivated this attack on poor people.
— National Homeless (@Ntl_Homeless) November 30, 2015
No, the the OKC Council Grinches were sending their own petty, ugly Christmas tidings to the poor: We don’t want to see you, listen to you, deal with you, know you, care about you or give money to you. Go away, poor people, go away!
This all started with Ward 6 Councilor Salyer’s claim a couple of months ago or so that she receives complaints “in the multiples every day” about what she and many people deride with the derogatory term “panhandlers,” which could include mothers simply trying to feed their children. Should we call someone trying to help a child a “panhandler” or simply “someone in need of help”? As far as I know, Salyer never had to show proof for this claim, and what does “multiples” mean, anyway? Does that mean at least two people contact her every day, seven days a week, and complain about “panhandlers”? That would be at least 14 people a week. I say: Prove it.
Let’s be clear that many people who are asking for money from motorists at intersections or on “medians” are often struggling with mental illness, along with drug addiction and alcohol problems. Let’s be clear that sometimes that’s not the case. Some people are not looking to get drunk or stoned, and they’re reasonably stable, but they’re broke and they simply can’t get help in a uncaring place that lacks decent social services, such as Oklahoma City. Maybe they just need a meal to get through the day because they’re getting some money the next day or the day after that. Maybe they can’t work for a variety of reasons.
Are there scammers out there asking for money and maybe they don’t need the money as urgently as someone else? Of course, there are scammers out there. If this alone makes people not want to hand someone a dollar, then by all means they shouldn’t do it. Look away. Don’t make eye contact. Turn up the radio. Tune out the reality. Don’t give it a second thought. But don’t turn the poor into criminals just because they’re poor.
I don’t see much difference in this vote than GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s bombast about immigrants and Muslims. The vote is more subtle, of course, and a lot more under the radar because it’s in backwards Oklahoma, the home of perhaps the ugliest and glaring Christian hypocrisy in the world, but the overall message is obviously aimed to demonize the poor and “the other.”
Oh yeah, we have the Oklahoma City Thunder and food trucks here now, and everything is so great.