Jul 2006

Couldn't make it up

Under the new law, which takes effect on Saturday, anyone offering food or drink to a homeless person will risk a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

I was watching the TV news this evening. It was dominated by news from the Middle East. But most of it just passed through me like a deadening mist. I’ve been hearing and reading about conflict in that region for my entire life… tonight’s news reports could have been archive footage from a decade ago. Or two. Only the flashy graphics and the haircuts of the reporters gave an indication that this was today and not yesteryear.

I still find it remarkable that the Israeli military can murder four unarmed UN observers and receive naught but a statement of regret from the international community. Can you imagine if Saddam Hussein had killed four weapons inspectors back in the day? That would probably have justified a full US invasion on its own. Apparently though, the west is happy enough to allow its friends murder unarmed civilians and UN observers.

Woe betide anyone not singing from America’s hymn sheet though. They just have to be accused of thinking about building WMD and they get bombed to hell, invaded and plunged into a civil war. Or did we bomb Iraq to hell, invade it and plunge the nation into civil war because Saddam Hussein was a bad man? I honestly don’t know what absurd justification is currently being used to explain the disaster occurring over there.

As the news continued, I listened with a resigned bitterness as aid agencies called for a temporary ceasefire to evacuate the remaining civilians from Southern Lebanon (mostly the elderly and infirm who have been unable to leave under their own steam) and an Israeli minister calmly refused.

I watched with muted outrage as the bloodied corpse of a seven year old girl was pulled from a pile of rubble while her injured father wailed and beat his chest. “Muted” because the images were so similar to the images on the news almost every night now. Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon… US-made weapons of mass murder destroying Arab lives, homes and nations.

And we wonder why a bunch of them are so pissed off?

But it was only when I heard keyboard-player Condi Rice insist that the USA would only call for a ceasefire if it was “sustainable” that I was shaken out of my nostalgia (my Dad worked in Beirut for a while in the 80s, so I got some first-hand accounts and current events are one big déja vu… there’s a funny story involving my Dad and Yasser Arafat as it happens, but this probably isn’t the post for that). That “sustainable peace” line is the same one I heard from “Yo” Blair. A sustainable ceasefire.

I recall the words of Jesus Christ as he delivered his sermon on the mount… “Blessed are the Peacemakers”, He said, “but only if it’s a sustainable peace. Otherwise they can fuck right off”.

It seems to me that getting people to stop murdering each other is pretty much objectively A Good Thing. Even if they only stop for a few days. That’s a few days when nobody gets murdered… where no 7-year old corpses are dragged from charred rubble as their fathers watch in horror. If the USA and the UK could ensure a few days respite from this awful conflict just by asking, then they are complicit in murder by remaining silent. I guess Dubya and Yo now have so much blood on their hands that a few 7-year-olds per day simply doesn’t register anymore.

And then, as I watched the news, a non-Middle East story came on. It was in the “and finally…” slot, but was hardly much relief. It turns out that Las Vegas is the first city in the United States to make it actively illegal to feed the poor. Yup, giving food to a hungry homeless Vietnam veteran (or even a hungry homeless conscientious objector) could now land you in prison.

It calls to mind another biblical quote. This one from St. Paul… “Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. Unless it involves feeding homeless people of course. God hates that shit.

Indeed, it’s a little known fact (the Lost Gospel of St. Bastid is the only place you’ll find it) that Jesus ordered his apostles – sometimes known as the 12 Bouncers – to make sure no homeless people got into the fishes and loaves shindig. “All are welcome at My Father’s table”, He insisted, “except the homeless obviously. They smell of pee sometimes and creep me out. Also, property values in heaven would plunge. We can’t be having that.”

Posted in: Opinion