Birds of a Feather

It’s a long way from Mary Poppins. Calling them “rats with wings” London Mayor Ken Livingstone tried to get rid of the thousands of pigeons in Trafalgar square by prohibiting the Londoners and tourists from feeding them. This spawned a protest to Save The Trafalgar Square Pigeons, and eventually a lawsuit giving long-time feeders the right to continue to feed the birds but prohibiting casual feeders. (While kind-hearted, this effort does provide further evidence for the critics who say that the British care more about animals than people. Exhibit “A” for this claim is that the society for the prevention of cruelty to animals is enjoys royal patronage, but there is no corresponding royal imprimatur for any group seeking to prevent cruelty to children.) [Update: see the comments for a contrary view.]

Cut to Las Vegas, where the city is declaring war on unsightly homeless people. It hasn’t called them rats with feet thumbs [edit because, after all, rats do have feet…], but that’s the general idea. Las Vegas has just passed an ordinance banning the feeding of poor people in the parks. Yes, in a Las Vegas park you can give a sandwich to a rich person, but not to the starving.

The ordinance, an amendment to an existing parks statute approved by the Council on July 19, bans the “the providing of food or meals to the indigent for free or for a nominal fee.” It goes on to say that “an indigent person is a person whom a reasonable ordinary person would believe to be entitled to apply for or receive” public assistance.

That’s America today: banning charity.

A blanket feeding ban regardless of income level would I am sure be constitutional. I leave it to others to parse equal protect law and opine whether the distinction between rich and poor in this rule will survive equal protection review. I suspect that judges will not be inclined to uphold this rule if doctrine permits them to strike it down.

Meanwhile, click here:

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4 Responses to Birds of a Feather

  1. shmuel says:

    The mayor is convinced that the pigeons are from Israel.

  2. Margaret Jane Radin says:

    Are these the same people who believe that we should get rid of public charity because private charity will take care of everyone in need?

  3. Phill says:

    Actually you are mistaken here. The NSPCC has enjoied royal patronage since its earliest days, Queen Victoria was its first patron only a few years after it started.

    The decision to use National in the title rather than Royal seems to have been the decision of the founder in the 1880s

  4. smaugg says:

    “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges…” I think Anatole France said that.

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