What’s Good For The Goose

Posted: January 17, 2008 in Discrimination, Homelessness, Misconceptions, Morality, Stereotypes

I’ve never made any attempt to hide the reality that there are homeless people who have no desire to raise their standard of living.

These individuals are content to do nothing with their lives. They get drunk as often as possible. They use drugs more often than most of us drink water. They are lazy and are willing to take whatever society will throw their way – all to avoid being responsible for their own actions. And all of the above bothers me.  

It bothers me for a long list of reasons.

Primarily what irks me about those homeless who do fit the stereotypical model of what most Americans envision when they think of homelessness, is that they make it hard for those homeless who don’t fit the stereotype. And, I’ve met quite a number of homeless who are as far from the stereotype as the Earth is from the Sun.

Also, since it’s the "bad apples" who are the "troublemakers" – and subsequently are the ones who get the "headlines" – it creates an obstacle course for those homeless who want nothing more than to just get on with their lives. They want to find a job that will provide them with an income that, in turn, provides them with a place to live and a way to sustain themselves.

In the January 10-17, 2008 issue of the SLO New Times, the article: "Hold It In Or Pay" spoke about the problem with public urination in and around the SLO downtown area.

Although downtown San Luis Obispo does have a public bathroom on Broad Street, that facility has been closed for quite some time due to vandalism and transients who had been "…hanging out and locking the doors for hours."

One item in the article I found particularly interesting. It had to do with SLOPD spokesman Capt. Dan Blanke. He stated that there would be ads released to appeal to a collegiate aged population because it was the "…demographic most often caught in the act."

Capt. Blanke further added that most of public urination offenses were alcohol related AND committed by male college students who were barhopping.

What bothers me about the entire situation is that if one homeless person were caught in the act of public urination, the community would be in an uproar and demand that the City do something to curb the homeless – even find a way run them out of town if possible.

However, I don’t hear anyone clamoring to the City that extreme and drastic measures need to be taken against all male Cal Poly students because a handful of them are using whatever bush or tree happens to at hand when they need to relieve themselves.

Isn’t that a double standard?

The reality of life is this: there is good and bad in every segment of society.

It’s just not right to penalize everyone for the acts of a handful of people who choose to be social misfits – regardless of their residential status.

I like what SLO Public Works Director, Jay Walker is quoted as saying:

"A very small percentage of people are the problem, but when they leave it in that kind of condition, it ruins it for everybody."

Call me a simpleton, but it seems to me that we have to learn how to deal with the handful of people who are creating the problems WITHOUT penalizing entire classes of people. We have to become intellectually and sociologically mature enough to recognize that a few bad apples aren’t indicative of the entire group.

People aren’t cattle. They are individuals. They need to be recognized and treated as individuals – regardless of whether they have a place to live or not.

If we continue to ostracize the all of the homeless simply because some of homeless are malcontents, and yet we do not make outcasts of all male college student because some of them are malcontents also, we’ve made ourselves nothing more than hypocrites.

Remember –

What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.


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