To the editor:
I was disgusted when I read about the Lawrence City Commission's plans for a city ordinance designed to prohibit verbal solicitation by the homeless, while still allowing for such "tolerant" groups such as the Scouts or the church to do so.
The Nov. 12 article immediately raised several questions in my mind. First, how will this be enforced? Will we soon have suspiciously well-dressed undercover officers roaming the streets waiting for some less fortunate person to ask for change, then slap the cuffs on? Second, what are the possible penalties for such a grave social violation? Are we to expect impoverished street people to pay a fine when they don't have enough money for shelter and food? Incarceration? Well, that sounds like a rather costly option for a city that had to raise sales taxes in order to maintain the public transportation system. Death penalty, maybe? That would surely put an end to such a menace.
But most importantly, do we really think these people want to be begging for money on the street? The majority of the homeless and transient population suffer from mental illness, chemical dependency problems, or both. If this is a real concern of the City Commission and the citizens of Lawrence, I suggest that they expend their time and energy in creating social and rehabilitation programs that could work towards solving the problem of homelessness, not just silence the victims of the uncaring American class-system.
Charles S. McVey,