Friday, March 14, 2008

Making fun of the homeless?

Posted By on Fri, Mar 14, 2008 at 12:20 PM

I'm not sure what to make of this. is a Web site that takes photos of "bums" and writes stories about them. In a press release, its organizers write that this weekend they're going to be, "walking the street, back alleys and parks of major cities in North Carolina talking and taking pictures with the panhandlers, street people and bums adding the stories of North Carolina's bums to their online gallery."

The site's founders say they've volunteered at homeless shelters but despaired of effecting real change for homeless folks - or, in the parlance of - bums. So they've turned to Web-based humor. Someone who hadn't read an explanation, however, might look over the Web site and find it mean-spirited and cruel:

Next time you see a panhandler take a minute and watch them. Count how many car windows role down, or people walking past on the street toss them money, all to assuage their working class guilt ... Maybe they are the smart ones free to spend their day in the park drinking as we dry up under the fluorescent lights in our tiny cubicles.

They are making plenty of money and don’t need your dollar. Keep that dollar in your pocket. Buy yourself a beer with the money – just remember to toast the street person who did not get your dollar and made that beer possible.

Using satire to draw attention to social problems is likely as old as the printed word. Homelessness should be ripe for such a technique. Maybe this just misses the mark? What do you think?

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