Silver Spring, Maryland

Posted: September 17, 2008 in Compassion, Discrimination, Homelessness, Misconceptions, Morality

I always find it ridiculous when folks equate being homeless with being a "bum."

For some reason, some folks are foolish enough to believe that the words are interchangeable or synonymous with each other. But the truth is that just because a person is homeless doesn’t necessarily make them a bum. On the other hand, I’ve met my fair share of housed people who are bums.  

One of the definitions of the word bum is:

A person who is or can be deemed to be despicable or contemptible.

About a week ago, I published a post titled, Liars And Thieves.

Right near the top I wrote this paragraph:

I use a number of different methods for tracking traffic to this site. As a result, I’m able to get an idea of where the majority of my readership comes from geographically, which posts are being read, and so on. Also, I’m able to "see" if a person has visited the sight more than once and how long their visit lasted.

I went on to mention that I had been tracking 4 specific visitors: 2 from Maryland, 1 from Virginia and the last from Texas. Three of those for visitors have stopped logging on altogether. There remains one visitor who is continuing to methodically "troll" through the site. That person is logging into the site from the Silver Spring, Maryland area – a city which has 10 colleges and universities in its general vicinity.

One of my other readers left this as part of their comment to that post:

Wonder if these thieves realize that no one is truly anonymous on the internet

Actually, that reader was far closer to the truth than you can imagine. For example, I can tell you this about the last of the four "trollers,"

  • Comcast is the company providing their internet access
  • The IP address assigned to their Comcast subscription is: (which shows up as: and will make it easy to track them, should it turn out they are plagiarizing me and I need to take legal action.
  • They are running Windows Vista
  • They are using Firefox 3.0.1
  • The first day they logged onto this site was on September 6 at about 8:30 PM (Eastern Time)
  • Since then, they have logged on to the site 27 times
  • As of last night around 11 PM (Pacific Time) have gone through 278 of my 450 plus posts
  • They are reading post after post going "backward" through them
  • Their average stay on each post is just a little over 9 and a half minutes (which is plenty of time in which to cut and paste an entire post)
  • They have never once left a comment to the site

Right at the top of this post I mentioned that many folks equate being homeless with being a bum. A major misconception, particularly in light of the definition I provided for what a "bum" is. The fact of the matter is that I’ve known quite a few homeless persons who have higher moral standards than some of the "fine upstanding citizens" in the mainstream community I’ve met.

On the other hand, consider that I’ve been plagiarized 6 times (that I know of) by college or university students who are looking for shortcuts at getting a grade. To me, the actions of those six students were both "despicable and contemptible." Therefore, by definition, those six students would be "bums."

However, just because those six students who tried passing my writings off as their own could be theoretically considered bums, does not mean that every college or university student is a bum.

Similarly, just because there are those homeless who deliberately choose to be homeless, doesn’t mean that every homeless person enjoys being homeless, or that they aren’t trying to find a way off of the streets.

I believe that part of the reason we, as a society, have been so ineffectual at finding ways of significantly reducing the numbers of homeless in our community is that we continue to view the homeless with the idea that every homeless person is just the same as the next homeless person. It’s a "guilty by association" mentality.

The problem with this type of view point is that we rob a person of their individuality. And, when we do that, we make ourselves incapable of making a difference in the lives of those who truly wish to become self-sustaining members of the community. To me, that’s very sad.

What it comes down to is this: people are people, regardless of whether they have a place to live or not. Just because a person may have the outer trapping of "success," it doesn’t mean that they are any more "valuable" a person than someone who does not have material wealth.

As for the person in Silver Spring, Maryland…

I’m challenging you to prove that you have no ill intentions with regards to my posts. If you have none, then drop me an email and let me know why you’ve been reading post after post and have not so much as left one comment.

Although, to tell you the truth, I don’t believe that you have the moral courage to send me an email.

  1. Kelli M says:

    I think you’ve made a good arguement with this article. You’ve shown that anyone can be a bum. If the person in Maryland is stealing your work they are a bum. Keep up the good work.

  2. Tim says:

    You’re right about the fact that anyone can be a bum even if they’re not homeless. My sister married a momma’s boy and who is a lazy bum. If they didn’t live with my parents they would be homeless. I see a lot of homeless here where I live who “work” all day finding cans and bottles and some of them even go all night looking for cans and bottles. It seems like alot of work just to get a few dollars but I give them credit because at least they’re not stealing. And I wouldn’t hold your breath about the guy or gal in Maryland. I’ll bet you anything they don’t have the guts to send you a email like you asked.

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