Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Attack of the Killer Panhandlers

As if we didn't have have enough things to worry the Harperite Conspiracy or the war in Afghanistan...or all that Made in China stuff that baby likes to chew on...or the fact that the CNE begins on Friday..... and you know what that means?

Now we're quaking in our boots or shooting off our mouths about the Attack of the Killer Panhandlers.

Even though three of the four suspects are Americans.

And most of OUR panhandlers are harmless. The pussies of the panhandling world...or just typically Canadian...

The roar of the frightened mob has been deafening.

It's a disgrace. Something bad is going to happen in this neighbourhood if we don't start thinking about our rights as free-moving and safe citizens rather than the rights of the homeless...

Ban them, fine them, throw them in jail. Do ANYTHING just drive them off the streets. It all seems a bit crazy to me. Why can't they just pretend they can't see them or hear them?

Like they usually do.....

(click to enlarge)

But of course it's more complicated than that.

Many formerly homeless people find that landing permanent shelter doesn't mean they can give up a street life, German said.

"Welfare doesn't pay enough to cover both rent and food, so they are forced to panhandle to eat."

The frightened mob can scream for blood all it wants, but until we deal with the root causes of the problem it will only get worse.

And if you pretend that you can't SEE the problem or just WISH it would go away. And you don't build enough cheap housing, or rely on a rotten shelter system, and you don't have aggressive and smart ways to deal with things like poverty, drug addiction, or mental illness, and you do nothing while our big cities become jungles with poor and desperate people everywhere...

Then WTF are you so surprised about when something jumps up and bites you? Or stabs you in the ribs.

I'm just surprised it doesn't happen more often. I can't understand why poor Canadians are so passive...why they don't demand more from Canadians than just quarters.

Why they don't understand that unless you organize and fight for your rights nothing ever happens...especially when others don't see you or hear you...

But when you're poor, and hungry, and thirsty, or drug addicted or mentally ill...and you have to worry about where they'll allow you to take a shit, or where you're going to sleep tonight...I guess just surviving is exhausting enough.

Which means that if we are really Canadians we should be thinking of new ways to HELP them instead of punishing them.

And reminds me....I'm going to take a few days off to try to think of new ways to help Alvaro Orozco.

Who is hiding somewhere in this city.

Because it's the same thing with him as it is with the homeless .

Whether you are discriminated against because you're poor, or whether you are discriminated against because you are gay.

Unless you fight back...and others help those who can't help themselves... nothing ever changes...

Which is a great excuse to run this my favourite Canadian band...again. To get me in the mood....

Works for me.

Please do what you can to help Alvaro. Tell those who would further victimize the poor to go stuff themselves.

Or ask them how THEY would live on $300 a month.

See you all soon...


  1. You nailed it, Simon. The homeless are stretched to the limit just keeping body & soul together every day. As you said, with the size of the problem, it's a wonder stabbings etc. don't happen more often. It's too bad that instead of screaming for blood people don't open their eyes up to the desperation of the homeless.

    I hope Alvaro is OK, and stays in hiding until hopefully, his case can be appealed. That'll be a happy day.:)

    BTW, in case you didn't know, you're on the list of Best Canadian Political Bloggers!!! Congrats! Linkie:

  2. Hi JJ! I know ALL the regulars in my neighbourhood...the tragic cases.....and the scoundrels. When it's cold I sometimes buy them a coffee...or when it's boiling hot I take a group of 3 in a nearby park a frozen bottle of water. And yes....lucky for them I still smoke...but they never ask for money and they are all quite harmless and real characters.I quite enjoy them.
    As for the political bloggers list no I didn't know it...thanks!!...and I'm surprised. Too bad something is wrong with that Alexa service....I've only checked it out once...and it told me most of my readers were in China!!! But please don't tell anyone. I'm enjoying my moment of fame!!! :)

  3. Anonymous5:16 AM

    I understand that there are many underlying problems to people being on the street and many don't choose to be there.

    However just today I had a panhandler yell at me for some change.

    I find this particular individual abrasive and his panhandling aggressive so I try to ignore him.

    He kept yelling louder while I was trying to look at the bus schedule. I finally yelled back that I had heard his demand for change the first time at which point he approached me aggressively and stood in my way yelling "what did you just say?!?".

    This is my first visit to your blog as I was actually researching ways to lodge a complaint against the individual rather than deal with him physically.

    I don't condone violence but where does one draw the line when a panhandler aggressively gets in your face? Do we still owe them a helping hand? One bad apple can easily ruin it for the rest of them but how do you tell the street person who needs and wants help from the one who just expects that you OWE him something because he's yelling "YO guy, spare change??"

  4. Hi anonymous!! Look I don't blame you for getting angry with that panhandler. I probably would be a lot ruder than you were. Nobody has the right to treat a person like that. I sometimes get angry too although I do try to talk to them and tell them gently that I'm sorry they're poor...but don't take it out on me. The way I see it it is a societal problem and we have to pressure governments to provide more housing, more drug rehabilitation programs...and of course take better care of the many mental patients who are on the street. Until we do that what you and I can do won't make any difference.
    I am sorry about your experience though. It must have been very unpleasant. But if I were you I would give the guy another is probably very hard so why make it harder for him?

  5. Anonymous12:45 PM

    Hey Simon,

    It's me again anonymous :-) I just wanted you to know that I was in no way trying to take it out on you.

    I thought your perspective on the matter was insightful and correct.

    My initial point still remains which might be better summed up by the old adage "You can bring a horse to water but you can't make it drink" which i believe applies well to several of our societies problems (not just in regards to street people.)

    You can offer them as much help as you want but if they're not prepared to accept it; how far should we go as a society?

    It's like preventing suicide: No matter how many preventative resources you may have; there is always going to be an individual who wants to end their life.

    Regardless I'll keep my eye on your blog in the future. I'm sure it'll contain some interesting reading!

    All the best,