Colorado: The Right to Flop
Colorado Democrats introduced a bill into the State Legislature titled, “The Colorado Right to Rest Act.” I’m not kidding. But before I eviscerate this silly piece of legislative drivel, let’s have some background and analyze why Denver has become a magnet for “homeless” folk.
It is clear that legalized marijuana exacerbates homelessness for a number of reasons:
The summary of the “Colorado Right to Rest Act,” also known as the “Homeless Persons Bill of Rights,” reads:
“The bill creates the “Colorado Right to Rest Act,” which establishes basic rights for person experience homelessness, including, but not limited to, the right to use and move freely in public spaces without discrimination, to rest in public spaces without discrimination, to eat or accept food in any public space where food is not prohibited, to occupy a legally parked vehicle, and to have a reasonable expectation of privacy of one’s property. A person whose rights have been violated may seek enforcement in a civil action, and a court may award relief and damages as appropriate. The bill does not create an obligation for a provider of services for persons experiencing homelessness to provide shelter or services when none are available.”
Yes people, this bill would give homeless people the RIGHT to sue your butt for just about any reason. Restaurants, bars, theaters, public buildings, garages, stairwells, hallways, would be turned, overnight, into flop houses, with little or no recourse for people patronizing such commercial establishments or just walking about the city.
As for occupying a “legally parked vehicle,” this bleeding heart mishmash fails to say whether or not the vehicle has to be the property of the homeless dude occupying it. One has to ask whether or not kicking a homeless person out of the back or your F-1050 would expose you to a lawsuit!
And, accepting and eating food “in any public space where food is not prohibited” may be interpreted just about anyway an ACLU lawyer can imagine. Libraries and government offices are public spaces. Court houses and police stations are public spaces. It’s possible that, under this bill, homeless people could brownbag it in the Capitol Rotunda, or the atrium of the library, or the steps of the county courthouse. Pigeons would be ecstatic, but those using public buildings, not so much.
And let’s not forget that a significant percentage of Denver’s homeless are unabashed potheads. It is currently illegal for ordinary citizens to smoke marijuana in open public spaces in Colorado. But, since the “Right to Rest Act” creates special rights for homeless people, it is likely that requiring a homeless guy to douse the doobie he’s smoking on the steps of the Capitol, will be deemed discriminatory, and therefore punishable under this stupid law.
I encourage you all to read the “Right to Rest Act” in its entirety here:
Carving out special rights for homeless folks in Colorado will inevitably attract more homeless folks to the state, and since legalized recreational pot is already a massive hobo magnet, this problem will surely become more unmanageable. Long story short, the “Right to Rest Act” aka “Homeless Persons Bill of Rights” is stupid and doomed to failure.
I believe that homelessness, the causes for which are many and complex, should be addressed before the fact, with policies and social norms that encourage strong families, moral conduct, and personal accountability. Let’s start with NOT MAKING MARIJUANA LEGAL, ABUNDANT AND CHEAP! Homelessness is often preventable because the causes of homelessness usually result from personal choices. Much of the time, substance abuse, alcoholism, criminality, mental illness, illegitimacy, human sex trafficking, unemployment, and illness can and should be be addressed before involuntary homelessness occurs. Homelessness is not something that just happens to otherwise decent people. And the more homelessness is made to be comfortable and empowering, the more the problem will grow. The unfortunate circumstances of homelessness do not obligate citizens to accommodate their needs by making outdoor mess halls of our public spaces, and flop houses of any place they may choose to bed down for the night.
As a thought exercise, just imagine that HB-1264 is passed through the Colorado Legislature, and you’re standing in line at City Grille to get a 1,400 calorie steakburger. Milling about on the sidewalk are some homeless people, panhandling, playing their ukuleles, smelling like old socks and Gorgonzola cheese, and there is nothing you nor the proprietor of the restaurant can do to prevent them from begging for money or food or crowding the entrance to the place, because to do so could expose you to charges of civil rights violations. Thus, your rights as a citizen are diminished, as are the rights of the owner of City Grille, to create a safe, clean, pleasant public space for his patrons. Are you thinking about this? Good. Then let’s get real, people. Perhaps a more appropriate name for HB-1264 would be “The Colorado Right to Stink Act.”
Posted by the callous Marjorie Haun 4/22/15