For Indiana's favorite bleeding-heart columnist, the Indianapolis Star's Dan Carpenter, it probably doesn't get any better than this -- he gets to disparage the military, stick up for the poor, downtrodden homelesss and stick it to less-enlighted Hoosiers, all in the same column:
Welcome to the Crosshairs of America, where you're expected to welcome troops landing in your neighborhood while you're assumed to be terrorized by ragged men asking you for a quarter on a Downtown sidewalk.
The mayoral red carpet laid out to the Marine Corps to conduct war games in our inner city, coupled with the crackdown on the menace of panhandling, underscores a kind of caste mindset that has characterized local leadership since way beyond the duration of my memory.
[. . .]
Even given Mayor Greg Ballard's sentiments as a retired career Marine officer, it's remarkable, to say the least, that City Hall would seize on panhandlers as a public threat while not bothering to forewarn the public that their living space would be subjected to door-to-door assault exercises. Have the expressions "Leave them alone" and "Leave us alone," respectively, not occurred to anyone in the rarefied reaches where Super Bowl packages are put together?
What insufferable twaddle. Dan's probably rooting for the ACLU, which is going to court to accuse the city of being mean to the beggars:
But the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana said officers are overstepping their bounds, prompting an increase in complaints by the homeless since Ballard announced his initiative in late March. The lawsuit alleges officers told two of the men to move on even though they were soliciting lawfully; some were forced to show identification several times and wait while the officers checked their records.
"You and I are allowed to walk down the street without the government forcing us to show who we are," ACLU Legal Director Ken Falk said, adding that two of the men weren't soliciting donations.
Police can go too far. We shouldn't want a return of selectively enforced laws such as those against vagrancy, and we should be concerned about people being stopped and harassed just because they look poor. But the problem is that it's gone too far the other way. The ACLU suit seeks class-action status, which I take as a serious effort to let the bums be as annoying as they want to be.