KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE!
The Real Homeless Problem
By Rabbi Shea Hecht
Legislation making attacks on the homeless a
hate-crime has been introduced in Alaska, California, Florida,
Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio and Texas. Bills making
attacks on the homeless illegal are also pending in Congress. I
think it's a sad commentary on society.
Nationwide, violence against the homeless is soaring, and
overwhelmingly the attackers are teenagers and young adults. When I
read news stories that highlight the increase of youthful crime and
violence against the homeless I wonder what society has taught our
There's no doubt about it. Learning is a life long experience.
Though we begin the learning process as babies we continue to learn
even as adults. We spend every breathing moment taking things in
analyzing, separating right from wrong, good from bad.
If children are taught that life is precious, that human life
counts, they too will respect life. But when unborn babies are
expendable, the old and infirm are nonessential, the sick are
useless - they just sit around and wait to be killed - what message
do we send?
The National Coalition for the Homeless is setting up speakers
bureaus in Florida to deal with attacks on the homeless. They chose
Florida as their starting point - because though attacks on the
homeless rose about 65 percent nationwide since 2005 - the sharpest
rise of attacks on homeless are by teens in Florida.
In 2006 a surveillance camera in Fort Lauderdale caught one teen
laughing as he beat a homeless man with a baseball bat. A group of
teenagers attacked three homeless men that night and face a murder
trial in one man's death. A year later in Daytona Beach, a
17-year-old and two 10-year-olds attacked a homeless Army veteran.
One 10-year-old dropped a cement block on the man's face, the police
"What could possibly be in the mind of a 10- or 12-year-old that
would possess them to pick up a rock and pick up a brick and beat
another human being in the head?" asked Ron Book, chairman of the
Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust. "It defies any rational thought
process, but it's also why we felt so strongly we had to do
Advocates for the homeless blame a culture that shuns the homeless
through laws that criminalize sleeping in public places such as
parks and camping areas. They also blame a society that outlaws
I think that the problem is much different than that. I think a
society where we do not respect human life leads to the problems we
are now witnessing. We have already sent the message that the
unborn, infirm and old are expendable. Why wouldn't teens who have
no moral grounding want to amuse themselves by attacking homeless?
The fact is that the homeless are already protected by the same laws
that protect each of us from attack. Any further laws are a waste of
time. Society would be better off figuring out how to better instill
a basic respect for human life in our youth - a way to tackle the
real homeless problem. We must teach our children that all human
life is created in the image of G-d instead of passing laws
protecting people from crimes just because they are unlucky enough
to be without a home.
Rabbi Shea Hecht's website:
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