UPDATE (2/12/2014): Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward has reversed his position on this issue, and is now in favor of an ordinance that would repeal the blanket ban. He said that after “reflecting and praying,” he came to his new conclusion. A City Council vote on the repeal is targeted for this Thursday.
There’s a new Tumblr blog making the rounds called Selfies with Homeless People. Apart from the rare picture in which the homeless person is complicit in the act, the majority of the photos are posed next to a sleeping or comatose human. Cue snap after snap of the worst sort of millennial douchery, as fresh-faced youngsters exploit the impoverished, dispossessed members of society for Instagram likes and hashtag LOLs.
Although their young souls may be dog shit, they aren’t actually physically harming homeless people. But don’t worry, because Florida, the internet’s favorite affront to human decency and legal reason, is picking up the slack. Thanks to a “camping” ordinance passed by the Pensacola City Council last summer, homeless people in the city will be criminalized for, among other things, sleeping outdoors while “adjacent to or inside a tent or sleeping bag, or atop and/or covered by materials such as a bedroll, cardboard, newspapers, or inside some form of temporary shelter.”
That’s right. For the grievous offense of trying to shelter yourself from freezing conditions while homeless, you are considered to be breaking the law. For a state so obsessed with the right to defend oneself, it’s shocking that Floridians wouldn’t extend this right to those confronted by the elements. But why is it illegal to use a blanket during those tricky periods when you don’t live in a house? Are blankets harbingers of infection and death? Possibly. The city council argues that “camping” has a detrimental effect on Pensacola’s “aesthetics, sanitation, public health, and safety of its citizens.”
So there you have it: The homeless of Pensacola are scruffy reincarnations of General Custer, infecting the fine people of the Redneck Riviera with disease-ridden blankets.
Obviously this is total bullshit. A homeless person is less of a threat to public health than an armed neighborhood watchman, or every person listed here. And if a state is worried about aesthetics, then maybe it can set the groundwork for supporting its less fortunate citizens—like implementing income tax. Finally, homeless people aren’t made of HIV and lava, so you probably won’t die if you go near them. At least the idiots taking selfies with them know that.
There is currently a Change.org petition with over 9,000 signatures asking Pensacola to overturn the ban.