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  • Writer's pictureD Lane

Where stupid meets ignorant (in letters to the editor)

One of my correspondents reminds me that “stupid” is not the same as “ignorant.” I might (or might not!!) be more careful about this in the future. However, there are instances where ignorant and stupid come together beautifully. It happened today in a Sentinel letter to the editor. The writer saw a little bus drop off some people that appeared to be homeless downtown. His conclusions: that these were people being bussed in from some distant land. And that “if you build it they will come from everywhere.”

The ignorance and stupidity bundled into this brief letter was breathtaking.

First, the bus the writer saw was shuttling people from a local homeless shelter site back to the normal downtown pickup/drop-off site for that program. Second, that shelter was not “built” recently. It uses a very old but lightly used building as interim shelter facility. This shelter that is allegedly attracting people from the entire planet provides a roof and mats on the floor. No beds. There are a couple of fairly well-equipped shelters in our community but this is not one of them -- because there is not a permanent facility for it. The residents have to be shuttled because the agreement with the shelter site’s neighborhood says that people that walk up through the neighborhood are not permitted to enter the program.

To add insult to ignorance, the letter also made sure to note that the people leaving the bus jaywalked across the street. The horror. Only very evil and unworthy homeless people would walk across a deserted street at 6 am. I’m certain no local housed person would ever cross outside of a crosswalk. We’re locals! We’re housed! We’re better than them!

One thing that isn’t totally stupid about this letter is that it cleverly employs some of the false tropes (which have gained a lot of traction in parts of our community) about unworthiness and invasions from elsewhere. This kind of repetition is used to justify inaction and/or punitive measures. Perhaps a smart tactic to soothe one’s conscience and avoid constructive action.

A final whine on my part: the Sentinel really can’t decide whether to promote intelligent discourse on issues of homelessness or promote ignorance. If it had decided, it would avoid printing incorrect information in letters to the editor as it presents good news articles on local homelessness issues.

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