The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Moral Monster Test

If you support this, you are one:

Members of Orlando Food Not Bombs were arrested Wednesday when police said they violated a city ordinance by feeding the homeless in Lake Eola Park.

Jessica Cross, 24, Benjamin Markeson, 49, and Jonathan “Keith” McHenry, 54, were arrested at 6:10 p.m. on a charge of violating the ordinance restricting group feedings in public parks. McHenry is a co-founder of the international Food Not Bombs movement, which began in the early 1980s.

The group lost a court battle in April, clearing the way for the city to enforce the ordinance. It requires groups to obtain a permit and limits each group to two permits per year for each park within a 2-mile radius of City Hall.

Arrest papers state that Cross, Markeson and McHenry helped feed 40 people Wednesday night. The ordinance applies to feedings of more than 25 people.

“They intentionally violated the statute,” said Lt. Barbara Jones, an Orlando police spokeswoman.

Just doing their job doesn’t cut it for the police, prosecutors or Lt.  Jones, the Orlanda police spokesperson, either.  But hey, this is a world where “first responders” do nothing while a man drowns, citing “procedures”.  There isn’t anything most Americans won’t do, or not do, if it’s their job.  I mean, it’s nothing personal man, it’s just a job.


Use the D word


The Depression and the future


  1. joel hanes

    A quality admired and rewarded in modern organizations, where it is referred to through metaphors such as professionalism and efficiency . . . Immorality is doing wrong of our own volition. Amorality is doing it because a structure or an organization expects us to do it. Amorality is thus worse than immorality because it involves denying our responsibility and therefore our existence as anything more than an animal
    – John Ralston Saul
    – “The Doubter’s Companion.”

  2. Cloud

    Thanks for mentioning the J.R. Saul; The Doubter’s Companion had somehow got lost from my ‘to obtain’ list.

  3. Notorious P.A.T.

    We’ve forgotten all the other lessons of Nuremburg, why not this one too?

    It’s a good thing the Democrat won in 2008, isn’t it?

  4. Lisa Simeone

    Can’t feed hungry people in a park without getting arrested.

    Can’t dance at the Jefferson Memorial without getting arrested.

    Can’t fly without getting molested, and if you object too loudly, without getting arrested.

    Land of the free and home of the brave.

    But hey, “I’m just doing my job.”

  5. tBoy

    The same rule has been in effect at Jackson Square in New Orleans for years. Oh, wait a minute. That’s for pigeons. You can’t feed the pigeons.

    Never mind ….

  6. David Kowalski

    How bout that Jesus feeding thousands with loaves and fishes. Bet he didn’t have a permit. Funny that these politicians probably call themselves Christians. They make the Pharisees look good.

  7. Morocco Bama

    So true, Ian, so true. For the first third of my life, maybe the first quarter or tenth, I wondered how Nazi Germany was possible, how the Nazis were able to commit such heinous acts and no one do anything about it. The question has long since been answered, and this is part of that answer. People will do anything for their jobs, and will avoid sticking their necks out at all costs. Eventually, one would hope, a line has to be drawn in the sand, and collectively, a substantial number of people must advise that if that line is crossed, then the Rubicon has been crossed, the contract is broken, and all’s fair in love and war thereafter. Will there be Blowback? The Plutocracy wants to know….they’re testing limits….how far can we push them….how much will they take. So far, there appear to be no limits, because so many don’t even realize their limits are being pushed and tested.

    Come on, People! What are you made of? Gelatin, or Steel? Carbon Fiber, maybe?

  8. Jack Olson

    If the other posters will put their oppression fantasies on hold for a moment, they might consider a few facts. It is not illegal to distribute free food in Orlando, Florida, where several food banks do exactly that with the support of numerous churches and charities. It is merely illegal to do so in a public park without a permit although a group is limited to two occasions a year.

    So, why would the city council of Orlando restrict the distribution of free food in public parks yet put no restrictions on the distribution of free food by local food banks and food pantries? Because a food pantry is a private charity and if a group of bums gathers there, they don’t drive other people away, but a public park is a public facility and when groups of bums gather there, they do drive other people away.

    Here is a comment by a Houston librarian about why the library opposed letting Food Not Bombs hand out free food in the plaza in front of the library: “The library has been experiencing service-related issues that stem from feeding activities on our plaza. These issues include the accumulation of trash and debris and the inappropriate use of our grounds as a restroom alternative after hours.” The Houston Library might have tolerated the distribution free food by Food Not Bombs if the recipients of the food hadn’t dumped their trash in the plaza or crapped on the lawn. It is comically delusional, and disrespectful to the millions who lost their lives under the Nazis, to compare the Orlando ordinance to the Nuremberg laws.

  9. Billy

    Ever try to do a cold-water rescue in neck-deep water of someone who does not want to be rescued when you don’t have a boat? There is not much you can do. What do you do? Got out and punch them until they allow you to drag them to shore? Maybe he’s got a knife to discourage people. Extremely dangerous situation.

  10. Everythings Jake

    I’m with Jack Olson in not saying that those damned homeless, jobeless dirty poor people who don’t have a pot to piss in have no decorum. We do not mean that they have a duty to disappear so that plutocrats can best enjoy their obscene wealth in the complete absence of its victims (no visual reminders to prick the conscience) and the rest of us can cling to the delusion that we will never end up that way.

    You would be mistaken to infer that we see a failing in the dregs of society to comprehend that the public sector is just inherently capable of efficiently delivering any form of good and that only the taxpayer-supported free market private sector is equipped to properly obscure gross inequality.

    Lastly, we are in no way asking them to stop smelling up the place by stepping into the showers.

  11. @Everythings Jake:

    Nicely done.

  12. Ian Welsh

    Actually, I have my Bronze Medallion and my Bronze Cross. A neck deep rescue of a man (and I doubt he was armed, (we would have heard about it) when you have multiple strong men and an hour to organize it and get equipment like rope and so on, is actually not that hard or dangerous. I would have roped some guys up and sent them, if he fought back might have let him die (make the call there) but I would have tried.

    Hell, what I was trained for was a beyond neck-deep rescue and the assumption was that a drowning man would always be trying to get you (when they drown, they lose all self control). We were taught the necessary underwater grappling moves to deal with it and while ideally there’d be two of you, you spent most of your training doing it by yourself, on the assumption that’s the way the cookie would crumble in the real world. When you signed up as a lifeguard, that’s what you were signing up for — lots of easy work, with the possibility of terror, danger and/or death. And you knew that and were fine with it.

    But in fact, this just wasn’t that dangerous a rescue, especially since there was time and multiple people available. Even without training it wasn’t that dangerous. And y’know, danger is part of the “first responder” job. If you can’t hack it, quit.

  13. Ian Welsh

    Jacky: NIMBY.

    I understand. No one wants smelly poor people stinking up their backyard. Can’t they go be hungry somewhere else and not disturb the good people, the nice people, with their smelliness?

  14. cathyx

    Homeless people… pigeons, same thing.

  15. Jack Olson

    So…what would you have the librarians of Houston do? Let the bums and their benefactors turn the library plaza into a garbage dump and public toilet? Or call the cops? If you prefer the former, aren’t you simply giving exclusive right to the library plaza to people who dump trash, and take dumps, there? Why do people who degrade public places such as parks have a greater right to them than people who do not?

  16. Jeebus, Jack – lighten up. We’re talking about desperate people here. I know that there’s a fantasy out there amongst the enabled – those who discount the infrastructure that supports their ostensible bootstrap thing – that these dregs of human society are willfully dragging us all down with them.

    Please, can you at least allow that there is a point where a disenfranchised human being can’t even conceive of observing the niceties of “social contracts” that no longer look upon him/her?

    Stop looking away.

  17. Everythings Jake


    In fairness (because I was unfair above), if there were in fact sufficient funds (private or public) and facilities to address the crisis in homelessness we are facing if we continue along the present path, I agree with you that there is no reason for a public park to turn into a third world campground.

    But those funds and facilities don’t really exist. In a society where the ruthless drive to privatize absolutely everything is accelerating so damned quickly, one can barely catch a breath between one report of public assets sold and the next, what choice do the homeless have but to find a public spot where they are, for the most part, left alone to subsist as best they can? And if we don’t leave them alone, then with no place left to go, and what we are really asking them to do is disappear by which I mean die.

    Now, not all, but a number of today’s homeless are not beyond hope or redemption, they are jobless because the social compact is simply broken. (Also, in a better society, we have and did provide even for the mentally ill and the broken – far fewer in number than Reagan would have had us imagine in his deluded vision of hordes of welfare queens in Cadillacs). I consider that there is a real possibility I may end up jobless myself someday, and though I have got a considerable cushion against homelessness, it’s not enough to get me through 30 years to retirement age

    So I don’t know what librarians should do, because it’s no longer realistic to suggest that society’s weakest members simply survive elsewhere if we don’t fix what’s fundamentally broken. Personally, while Americans watch what is happening largely in a stupor, I grieve that I will not live long enough to see people finally rise up and demand better. And I think that until the rich are afraid to be so greedy (and they are from afraid), nothing will change, it will only get worse.

    I also wonder what it will take to make the rich afraid in today’s world, where the weapons at their disposal are several degrees more savage than were available in the early twentieth century when the rich lost at least a few significant battles in the ongoing class war. I’m not sure non-violent militant resistance is sufficient.

    I apologize for my earlier behavior – venting my rage at you, who seems more earnest than trollish, isn’t a very constructive solution.

  18. jcapan

    “most Americans”

    Genuinely appreciate the “most”

  19. Celsius 233

    Funny (odd); were we always this mean spirited? I don’t remember that we were; but I may have still been under the influence of the fairy tales that I was taught for the first 18 years of my life; in public schools.
    It was very shortly after that, that I realized what a sham it all was/is and now “the raconteur’s” (aka the MSM), who should have guarded our true history, are proven to be the despoilers of our real history and subsequent realities. With the passing of Howard Zinn; there are few left to whom we can pass the torch.

  20. An observation: the law designates a 2 mile zone around City Hall where it’s illegal, in essence, to encourage homeless people to gather by providing them food. I think that’s a tell; the real objective of this legislation is to allow the ruling class to go about their business dismantling our society without having to see, or even be near, their victims.

  21. I mean, one of the ruling elite might want to talk a walk in the park in between passing laws like this, and you wouldn’t want them to have to avoid making eye contact with someone living on the street, would you?

  22. Billy

    They obviously didn’t have the hands on station who thought they could handle the suicide guy.
    I’ve got nothing but EMT and Advanced Open Water training. Maybe they didn’t have any water guys there who were willing to go in. Maybe no wet suits, no water unit gear.

    Don’t call those guys cowards or fascists for not taking the chance on someone who was willing and trying to die anyway. There’s always a back story. Was it as simple as going into the water and dragging the man out? Probably. But we weren’t there, so we’ll never know. Don’t presume anything, ever. Real life is harder than blogging.

  23. Billy

    Plus, the water was 54 degrees.

    It’s also possible that he wasn’t even dead when the bystander pulled him out.

  24. Morocco Bama

    Here in the West, such a big deal is made of that Tiananmen Square moment whilst ignoring our own 1,001 Tiananmen Square moments, marginalizing them to the periphery. This is one such moment, and Celsius, yes, we have always been this cruel. Remember the Bonus Army….another Tiananmen Square moment? Those Noble U.S. Idols, Patton, Eisenhower and MacArthur mowed down their fellow comrades for their lack of manners with estreme prejudice, even going beyond their orders in meting out punishment.

    It’s called Exceptionalism, and propaganda has a way of making the Peeps blind to it.

  25. Celsius 233

    Morocco Bama
    June 4, 2011
    Here in the West, such a big deal is made of that Tiananmen Square moment whilst ignoring our own 1,001 Tiananmen Square moments, marginalizing them to the periphery. This is one such moment, and Celsius, yes, we have always been this cruel.
    Yes…yes, I know it’s true. Blind we are………

  26. Jack- the real problem here isn’t a civic organization maintaining its grounds against those rascally homeless who should just, like, get a home or something, the problem is the law itself.

    Instead of attacking the underlying problem (at least as you interpret it) directly by drafting a law that prohibits either (a) polluting public grounds or (b) promoting large congregations of people in general, it’s specifically drafted to target charitable distributions to this small subset of people from coming within x miles of City Hall with, apparently, no reason other than not wanting them there. It’s blatantly discriminatory and arguably a violation of equal protection. Why is it a problem to feed 26 homeless people but not a problem to host a soccer game that draws 26 young schoolchildren? The law is clearly a pretense for discrimination against the homeless.

    If you require the group to get a permit so law enforcement can account for what they’re doing and enforce loitering/pollution laws, fine. If the civic organization has a problem with a specific group (any group, not just those targeted at homelessness feedings), allow them the privilege to limit the group’s future conduct or to object to permits. But preemtively limiting them to a bar of 2 a year and targeting only free food give-a-ways? Yeah, that’s a problem.

    Go back in time and read some justifications of Jim Crow laws. Then read your replies on your page. Do you see why people are calling you out yet?

  27. David Kowalski

    The one who took pleasure in mowing down the Bonus Army was MacArthur. Patton objected vociferously but only to MacArthur and never, ever forgave Douglas the creep. He told him flat out he knew some of the people from serving with them in WW I and one of those rousted had saved Patton’s life. MacArthur was implacable despite many objections. He not only cleared the Bonus Army from DC but pursued them on another day into Virginia and attacked them there despite pretty much unanimous objections from the rest of the Army.

    Maybe Patton should have resigned but he went as far as he could without resigning. The others didn’t object as strenuously but this was a top-down piece of cruelty like today’s monstrosities.

    Btw, I worked as the budget supervisor for a county welfare department back in the Reagan days in a snooty county. There was a little pressure to reduce some of the seamy nature but no attempt to cordon off downtown. The county was spending big bucks and actually cared about the people, at least a bit. I did the budgeting and some of the planning. Things are definitely a lot worse.

  28. Morocco Bama

    No one was talking about taking pleasure, or not taking pleasure, David. The fact is, the Bonus Army was a Tiananmen Square moment, and that was 1930-31. There have been many more since, and to attempt to apologize for some of those who executed the orders is a way of engaging in Exceptionalism, once again. You have proven Ian’s point by attempting to salvage Patton’s Character and Humanity. Afterall, he was just doing his job and following orders even though he vigorously protested. Can John Demjanjuk use that same defense? Afterall, he was just following orders in an effort to survive in the System and maintain his status.

  29. David Kowalski

    What counted most was the leadership at the top. There was no Bonus Army moment when FDR was President and I don’t think either FDR or Marshall would have ordered it. McNamara was very creeped out by protests during the Vietnam War in front of the Pentagon and ultimately resigned although the people on the Joint Chiefs like Wheeler and LeMay were seemingly without a conscience.

    Patton was as good as it gets under the Hoover/MacArthur regime. The Tianamen moments go back further. Coxey’s Army was dispersed during the 1890s as part of the Panic of 1893 and federal troops were sent in to put down strikers. A nominal Democrat, Cleveland, was the President but he was Corporate through and through. In the parlance of the day he was a “gold Democrat.” Like the Blue Dogs and the New Democrats of today that meant problems (and the New Democrats are clearly better than the Blue Dogs).

    The only case I can recall of Generals bucking the establishment were Sherman at the end of the Civil War and Butler turning in the attempted coup against FDR. 40 acres and a mule for the blacks who acted as Sherman’s scouts during the march from Atlanta to the sea and through the Carolinas? Sherman was doing it despite the opposition of the Secretary of War. He was also making peace on Lincoln’s terms despite the opposition of Stanton. One a century, otherwise get good political and military leadership at the top or one will fall into the patterns of Exeptionalism.

    No President should have the rogue mercenaries we employ today and the reasons during “austerity” are chilling. Maybe they need total paid-for rogues as an insurance policy in case the Establishment runs into another Butler or Sherman.

  30. Jack’s comment is fairly typical. It’s much easier to condemn than to understand and reform. Recently, I had an appointment in San Francisco’s St. Francis hospital and had occasion to view a half dozen homeless men and women pass through to rest for a few moments in the large lobby. They were as non-bum as a human being can be, struggling for just a few moments of peace. Shame on you Jack.

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