We think legislators make laws for the common good of all citizens.  Sometimes they don’t.  When ‘bad’ laws are made legislators can tear down a lot of good that their predecessors have built up over time.  Edmund Burke said; “Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.”  He also said that if people are crushed by  a law they will become antagonistic to not only the law but society as well;

People crushed by law, have no hopes but from power. If laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to laws; and those who have much to hope and nothing to lose, will always be dangerous.

What is a bad law?

Making feeding the homeless illegal is a bad law!

What kind of world would it be if kindness to strangers was outlawed?  What possible reason would there be for making  feeding or helping the homeless illegal?  Who would make laws like that?

Norway is considering it;

Anyone offering a homeless person a cup of coffee or a sandwich on the streets in Norway could soon risk six months to a year in jail under a proposed new law.

The Norwegian government wants to introduce a national ban on organized begging, which will criminalize not only beggars, but also those deemed to have helped them in any way.

City authorities in Oslo are in uproar at the proposed law, which they say the government is trying to rush through without proper debate, with only three weeks allowed for consultation.

The government says the new law is needed to combat an influx of organized begging gangs in recent years, which it says are a public nuisance and have brought a rise in crime.

 Norwegians could face jail for giving homeless people food or money if new law passes, critics say,  Justin Huggler, The Telegraph, February 4, 2015

Is this just some crazy Norwegian idea (my heritage is Scandinavian so I can ask the question)?

Jonathan Turley  reports  it’s happening in America as well;

Did you know that somewhere in America, it is illegal to feed the homeless in public? It can’t be true can it? It is true in Fort Lauderdale, Florida after the recent passage of an ordinance by the city council. The real scary part of that news is that Fort Lauderdale is not alone in taking this anti-compassionate stance!

“Over 30 cities across the nation have outlawed or are considering criminalizing the provision of food to homeless people. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, over 20 cities have devised laws against giving food to homeless people since January 2013.” Nation of Change  (submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty -Weekend Contributor)

Why?

‘It’s a pubic safety issue. It’s a public health issue,’ Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler rationalized. ‘The experts have all said that if you’re going to feed them to get them from breakfast to lunch to dinner, all you’re doing is enabling that cycle of homelessness.’ (Lawrence E. Rafferty)

Could this happen in Canada – would we adopt such laws?  Perhaps, we already chase the homeless away with spikes!  Matthew Coutts reports:

Canada may not do enough to help its homeless community, but at least we’ve never lumped them in with pests and vermin the way a London, England apartment complex did when it installed metal spikes on the ground near its entrance.

Except, apparently we have. According to a Canadian homeless advocacy group, anti-homeless spikes are relatively common and have even made occasional appearances in Canada.

“I’ve seen them around, I’ve seen them here in Calgary and I’ve seen them in other cities around Canada,” Tim Richter, head of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, told Yahoo Canada News.

London criticized for anti-homeless spikes, but Canada is little better, By Matthew Coutts,  Daily Brew – Mon, 9 Jun, 2014

Any law that dehumanizes people is a bad law.  Any law that takes away the innate right a human being has to receive help and give help to another is just plain wrong.  When legislators who make our laws listen more to ‘experts’ rather than their constituents bad laws are made. Bad laws make criminals of good people as well as people ‘down on their luck’.      Marianne Borgen of Norway makes the point:

“The way I read the proposed law is that if you give a hungry person something to eat or drink, or offer them somewhere to sleep, then you are helping begging and you will be liable to imprisonment or a fine,” Marianne Borgen, an Oslo city councillor, said.

“We should all be able to show our humanity and help individuals. Of course the government didn’t mean to criminalize you or me if we give someone a cup of coffee, but under the proposed law we would be liable to prosecution.”  (Justin Huggler of The Telegraph,  Norwegians could face jail . . . )

How do we solve the problem of homelessness?  Even Canada has tried some very nasty  approaches,  Coutts continues;

 Last year, Abbotsford, B.C., incited outrage when it spread chicken manure across an area that had become a prevalent homeless encampment. The outrage led city officials to apologize and remove the manure, and prompted a lawsuit led by a homeless advocacy group.

“It is a pretty typical pattern of responses to homelessness and rough sleeping in most communities. They want to deal with the symptoms of the problem and not the problem itself,” Richter [head of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness] said.

“Whether you are putting these spikes in place or spreading manure on homeless camps, or your police officers and bylaw officers are issuing fines to homeless people, really you are pushing the problem around. You’re not solving it.  (London criticized for anti-homeless spikes, but Canada is little better)

There are some problems legislation can’t solve.  Some problems have far deeper roots than social, economic or political causes.  Few wish to admit this.  Compassionate people know in their hearts that homelessness can’t be solved by making it illegal to help.  Instinctively they provide the only ‘reasonable’ response – love in the simple action of responding to a need.

The Bible tells us how we will be judged by Jesus in the end;

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me’  Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  (Matthew 25:34-40)

What legislative body has the authority to outlaw helping hands?  What kind of laws jail compassion?    What court holds final authority over you?

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