Why Not BC and AD?
I want to comment on Patrick Daugherty’s “End Times Edition” in the December 27 issue (Sporting Box).
As far as I know, you’re either a Christian, or the son of Christians, or the grandson of Christians. So, what’s all this BCE and CE nonsense in your story, talking about the Olympics and Julius Caesar and so on? You are not Jewish; you are not Mohammed. As far as I know, you have no reason not to say BC and AD. Instead of 776 BCE, why not 776 BC? And instead of 394 CE, it should be 394 AD. You’re just annoying when you use these BCE and CE terms, like you don’t want to acknowledge that the European and American world is mostly Christian in background. You remind me of some liberal college professor or something. Normal people talk about BC and AD, not BCE and CE. SO, get off your pose, Patrick. Don’t be an asshole.
Your policies concerning the voices you print in the letters section are very unprofessional. I don’t mind some of the angry or actually loony ideas that people are espousing. It’s their right and your right to print them. However, printing long transcriptions of someone’s angry voice mail doesn’t promote a healthy debate because, being voiced over the telephone, it’s often just a self-indulgent rant with no organization or cogent thought.
The worst part of it is that you allow them to be anonymous! That includes e-mail, as well. If someone has something to say, they should put their name to it! You’re allowing some real nut-cases to espouse crazy conspiracy theories and others to fling invectives at others without any responsibility at all. At least insist that everyone include their real name and verify it! That is responsible journalism.
Richard V. Lawhead
The article about sign-beggars (“Will Work for Food,” October 25) was like every other article about homeless people I’ve ever read — long on impressions and speculations, but short on facts. The author got his information from the sign holders themselves, either directly or secondhand through police officers and social workers, and others who got their information, likewise, from the sign holders themselves. Problem: No one but the sign holders know what the true facts are about themselves and they are not well known being eager to share these facts with others. They might be homeless, and they might not be. You never know.
It seems to me that about 90% of what is believed about the “homeless” in general, including the sign-beggars, is wrong. I’ve been homeless or close to it for several periods of time, so have some standing to sound off on about the matter, and, furthermore, I don’t intend to have my name printed below this letter and, therefore, have no reason to lie. Here below are what I consider to be ten misconceptions about street people.
One: The homeless are “homeless.” Wrong. If home is where the heart is, then a person living in a mansion can be homeless, and a person camping in his or her car or under a bush can be at home. Four or more walls do not a home make. (Were the Sioux Indians who were thriving out there on the Great Plains homeless? Are nomads? Eskimos?)
Two: The homeless have no guaranteed income. Wrong. Some, especially veterans, are on disability, which is $1500 and up per month. Some receive over $900 per month in combined SSI and SSA payments. (Note that this amount is insufficient to pay a San Diego rent.) Many receive something over $250 per month for general relief.
Three: The homeless don’t do any work. Wrong. Many of those without cars walk as far as a mailman does every day, and are “paid” two or three meals for it. Standing by the freeway for hours holding up a sign is more work than most job-holders put in per day. Collecting cans is hard work, demanding and promoting physical fitness, benefiting the environment, and making for more camaraderie and pride than is found in most work places.
Four: Homeless people don’t have any friends. Wrong. Street people or urban survivalists are above average in conviviality and gregariousness and in number of friends. The chatter at a free meal tends to be louder than the chatter at a faculty gathering, for instance. There are some loners living on the street, of course, but many of them, even, become more social after being on the street awhile.
Five: Homeless people feel worthless. Wrong. Most of them have had conventional jobs and homes in the past and know that, back then, they didn’t perform a service on the job other than doing whatever they were told to do — nothing to feel proud about. They didn’t love their neighbor back then as much as they do now. They’re just as smart now as they ever were. Their lack of possessions frees them from the necessity to haul around a bunch of nonessentials, and also guarantees that if anyone wants to be their friend it’s because of who they are, not what they own.
Six: Homeless people are all criminals or crazy or retarded or addicted to drugs or alcohol. Mostly wrong. The high visibility down-and-outers you can see sprawled out on downtown sidewalks in the daytime almost certainly include higher-than-average numbers of psychotic and low IQ persons; but when it comes to addiction, I’m sure the housed/employed are as well or better represented than street people. And street people, I think, are not apt to be serious criminals. If they were criminals they would probably have a lot more money or else be in jail. Except for the downtown derelicts and the occasional dirt-covered psycho looking for dregs of food or drink in trash cans in all neighborhoods, I have found street people to be within the normal curve in intelligence, sanity, and addiction, and less criminally inclined than most people. The majority of them might be short on formal education, but they solve most problems as well or better than most.