Amendment: Restrict Panhandling

Driving home this afternoon, I see the a familiar fair-weather sight – the panhandler with the cardboard sign begging at the busy intersection.

(BTW, please DON’T turn this into a “is-he-really-destitute-or-homeless” argument. It’s beside the point.)

Las Vegas is fighting its own losing battle. There, pamphleteers were accosting pedestrians on the strip with explicit fliers for adult entertainment and services. LV tried to prevent the practice by declaring a certain section a “resort zone” or somesuch; the court challenge is pending.

Why are these annoyances allowed to persist? Because the Supreme Court says that panhandling is a constitutionally protected form of commercial speech.

What if a narrowly drawn amendment were passed that would allow states and municipalities freedom to restrict begging/panhandling? Would it make society a better place?

What I am hearing is that you moved to a city of some millions of people and then expected to not run into any of them. Interesting…

Geez. If you don’t like panhandlers, don’t ban them from panhandling; give them the ability to survive without panhandling. You think they’re doing it for fun?

I’m curious Captain. What language would you use for this proposed amendment that would only prohibit “panhandling”? Personally I think rewriting the Constitution to address panhandling is using a very large stick on a very small problem.

What I hate are the panhandlers and street performers (most of them) that do not respect your rights. Oh they are the first to complain about their rights being violated but I have said “Sorry, Can’t help,” and most give you the rudest comments back. What they don’t seem to understand is the same right that gives you the ability to ask for money gives me the right to say “No.”

Also the street performers who play in the street are fine but they should not be allowed to play in subways or el stops. Those places are restricted access. I mean if I don’t like a performer and he is on the street I can simply walk the other way around the block. But on a subway I am forced to stand there and listen to the music, I may not like, Your free speech violates my right not to hear your music

So I wouldn’t mind seeing more restrictive laws. I am all for helping out people who need it like the disabled, or the mentally ill but some of those people begging cleary show no effort of helping themselves.

Your post has violated my right not to hear pompous, quasi-fascist, half-baked opinions; yet I can not unread it.

  1. I wish I possessed the ability to determine a person’s life history and motives while looking down my nose at them.

  2. Street performers, at least, are showing some effort of some sort. Busking is (or should be) a respected venture.

Unless the busker is a mime who refuses to leave me alone. Then I, like Opus the Penguin, should be allowed to beat him to death with a loaf of french bread and have it widely recognized as justifiable homocide.

Or, you could shoot him, but since he was a mime, you’d have to use a silencer.

peas on earth

*jodih said: Unless the busker is a mime who refuses to leave me alone. Then I, like Opus the Penguin, should be allowed to beat him to death with a loaf of french bread and have it widely recognized as justifiable homocide. *

I believe Opus’ weapon was an olive loaf. :slight_smile:

Can anyone suggest how such a law might be written, so that it is still legal to ask someone how to get to a certain place?

To quote Anatole France:

“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”

Thank you, egospark. I was going to quote that one. It’s one of my favourite quotations.

It is my considered opinion that attempts to restrict or ban panhandlers, mimes, street performers, and squeegee kids are based on this fear of poor people and the idea that maybe if you don’t see them, they’ll go away. It makes a capitalist very uncomfortable to see that capitalism has failed these people so utterly. Perhaps that’s why they hate them so.

“Mystery Man Mugs Mime With Meat; Millions Make Merry”

-Bloom Picayune headline. lord, I loved Bloom County

Check out this site for some good info on this subject.

I am trying to figure out how to say something here that won’t make everyone think I’m a racist. Actually, one of the things I hate about panhandling is that it has made me think racist thoughts.

In Baltimore, where I used to live, I once spent a day just walking around the city. I like the look and feel of the city and just spent my day off wandering around looking for new sights. I must have been asked for money a hundred times. Every person who asked me for money was black (~90% male). About half of these people were dressed nicely and looked like they didn’t need a handout. Some were teenagers and I forgive them their tresspasses but curse their parents. I have been asked for money by people of many races but by far the bulk of them have been black and I’ve never been asked for a handout by a well dressed person of any race but black. Is there some cultural reason for this? Or, is it just that a lot of black people are poor? Do poor black people blow their last dime on grooming so that they can look nice when they go out panhandling? Can we give permits to legitimately destitute people or something?

Last I heard they had passed a law in Bmore making it illegal to give money to panhandlers, but it had been challenged. It would be pretty tough to enforce anyway.

I have also seen statistics that show that there are free shelters enough for all the adult homeless in Bmore and soup kitchens enough to feed them all. The shelters do not admit anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol though. They a short on facilities for children though. They have several places that insist that the parents give up custody. This is not legal but, as the people who run these places say they will just shut down if forced to change their policy, the city has decided not to enforce the law. I used to know where a lot of the soup kitchen etc. were and, upon being asked for money, would give directions. I was usually ignored, but on a couple of occasions, I was genuinely thanked.

This is my longest post to date and is not filled with SD style myth destruction but instead full of personal experience and speculation. :frowning: Sorry. I hope it is at least interesting. And, I hope you don’t all come down on me for spreading racist propaganda. Maybe my experiences are not typical, if so let me know.

If men had wings,
and bore black feathers,
few of them would be clever enough to be crows.

  • Rev. Henry Ward Beecher

I’d like to add that my remarks on giving permits to legitmately destitute were not intended to head this thread toward the ’ “is-he-really-destitute-or-homeless” argument.’ I don’t think that it is ‘beside the point’ but I am trying to honor the original poster’s request. My comment was intended to head in the “reduce the panhandling problem by making it illegal for the non-needy” direction.

Oh, and delete the “‘though’ after ‘children’” in the previous post. Other, smaller, style errors also occured but I can live with them.

Arrrrgh, I couldn’t keep my quotes straight. Sorry.

Something has clearly failed in most of those cases, but it surely wasn’t capitalism.

I don’t have a problem with street performers. Some of them are good, some aren’t; sometimes I chip in some bucks if I like what they’re doing and they’re not going about it by trying to annoy people. Most of them I’ve encountered seemed to be pretty cool; some actually are good musicians and seem to be actually trying to make good music.

I have a BIG problem with the “smear your windsheld with goo and then charge you money to wipe it off so you can see” school of panhandling. If you start out by annoying me, you won’t get my money no matter how good your sob story is. If you try to sell me newspapers you stole from the newspaper box, you also won’t get my money.

One experience I had with panhandlers: I’d seen a guy with a “will work for food” sign on one street for a few weeks running. So I offered him $10 an hour plus lunch to do some yardwork for me once a week for the summer, and offered him transportation to and from wherever he hung out. I made the offer in good faith, but he wasn’t interested <shrug> - didn’t make any real attempted to conceal his contempt, either. I later learned I wasn’t the only one to offer him some work, but he always turned it down. Apparently he was doing OK just on handouts without having to actually take any of the jobs. If he could make more than $10 in an hour sitting on the street, I guess there’s no motivation for him to take the job I offered.

peas on earth

My personal problem with panhandlers is a feeling of being lied to. I feel most people don’t like dishonesty.
“Will Work for Food” is dishonest because to subject of the stories we hear about won’t work. And there are places for a homeless person to get food. I have even offered to take one person the the Salvation Army (which I contribute to) and was turned down.
I’ve seen things on signs like “Vietnam Era.” Anyone alive from that period was Vietnam Era. I get steamed thinking that the person is trying to pass himself off as a destitute Vet.
By the way, almost all of the beggers in my area are white. And my area is 69% Hispanic!

Same here – almost all the panhandlers I see in Providence are white.

I think the race of panhandlers is a reflection of the racial mix of the area in which one lives. Baltimore is a majority black city.

I think that if the economy were really good, we would see way fewer panhandlers. We only buy the idea that the economy is good because none of us have ever experienced a really good economy.