Scapegoating of Madison's homeless and other "undesirables."

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Scapegoating of Madison's homeless and other "undesirables."

Postby manoletters » Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:26 pm

RE: "Dozen cops, pepper spray needed to break up fights, Badger Herald, Sept 30, 2012:"
Anyone familiar with the history of the 1960s will recall the "redneck" sheriffs from the Deep South who uttered ceaseless imprecations directed at civil rights workers, calling them "outside agistators." That's why I'm deeply disturbed by language currently being employed by Alder Mike Verveer and Mayor Paul Soglin. Their recent references to homeless people and other so-called troublemakers - the majority of whom purportedly come from outside Madison's borders - might be construed as an ugly example of societal scapegoating. Paul Soglin in particular campaigned with the issue of combating poverty in Madison as one of his major themes during the 2011 mayoral race, so it seems incongruous at best to witness him employing such ideologically-charged terminology, which in these sour economic times might conceivably rise to the level of hate-mongering.
Alder Verveer seems to call the very idea of a right to free association into question, maintaining that it's "...shocking and disturbing that convicts are continuing to hang out and cause problems in this area." Excuse me, but I must have missed his press release informing us Madisonians that certain specified individuals, who in effect are branded as "undesirables," are no longer permitted to congregate on State Street or University Avenue. I'm not suggesting that the people of our city have no right to be left in peace, free from the scourge of crime and violence. What I find surprising is that Mr. Verveer expressed "shock" that a society like ours, characterized as it is by glaring social inequalities, should produce potentially troublesome individuals who assert their physical presence on our streets. And while it just may be that some of the young people involved in last week's melee hail from outside of Dane County, it's equally likely many were born and raised right here in South Central Wisconsin. Yet even if it were proven that the those who provoke fights downtown travel here from elsewhere, I wonder if either Paul Soglin or Mike Verveer would willingly trade places with American citizens who come out of truly disadvantaged neighborhoods. It's highly unlikely that folks who provoke street battles inhabit the same relatively privileged circles as do Mr. Verveer and Mr. Soglin. How refreshing it would be if our public servants would stop referring to "those people" in a manner so utterly devoid of social context. Blanket condemnations of people who probably come out of unenviable situations are never very helpful in suggesting the kinds of improvements our society needs to undertake. I won't even bother to directly address the stubbornly persistent failings of our educational system. Whether or not we care to acknowlede it, the solution to the problems of crime in the streets are much more complex than most want to admit; tackling these issues in a meaningful way will require much more than the purchase of a few hundred one-way Greyhound tickets. ... per_sp.php

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