Last week, the city of St. Petersburg, Florida sought to deal with the problem of increased panhandling on city streets, so the City Council unanimously approved banning all street solicitation. No more “begging” on street corners. That doesn’t sound so unusual, does it?
However, the City’s ban covers much more than just begging and “Will Work For Food” signs:
The ban prohibits any transaction between pedestrians and motorists on major city streets. That means it also would restrict activities such as fundraising by the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the selling of newspapers by street vendors.
That’s right. It will now be illegal for a vendor to sell a newspaper on the street. Because the ban covers such transactions on the street, the City Council cites it as “improving public safety.”
In other words, say you’re sitting in your car at a stop light, and a newspaper vendor is holding up a newspaper hoping you’ll buy one. That, they claim, is a matter of public safety.
Now, say you’re sitting in your car at a stop light, and a person holding up a sign that says “Vote _____ For Mayor!” is standing in the vacant spot previously occupied by that now banned newspaper vendor? Is that also a matter of public safety? According to the St. Petersburg City Council, not so much!
In St. Petersburg Florida, a campaign sign is one thing, but INFORMATION ABOUT A CANDIDATE IS DANGEROUS. BEWARE! Not to mention informed choices.
Word on the street is, (unless they’ve banned street corner opinion whispering too) not only is this a benefit to public safety, it’s also a benefit to St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, who not only supported the ban, but is discouraging the St. Petersburg Times in their federal lawsuit against the city.
Informed choices are things to be discouraged. I suppose that makes sense coming from Foster, who said this in 2008:
“Evolution gives our kids an excuse to believe in natural selection and survival of the fittest, which leads to a belief that they are superior over the weak,” Bill Foster wrote board members in a letter received this week. “This is a slippery slope.”
He continued: “One of the Columbine shooters wrote on his Web site, ‘You know what I love? Natural selection! It’s the best thing that ever happened to the Earth. Getting rid of all the stupid and weak organisms.'”
Foster’s letter comes in the midst of an increasingly emotional tug-of-war over the state’s proposed new science standards, which embrace Charles Darwin’s theory as the fundamental pillar of modern biology. The current standards, written in 1996, do not mention the word “evolution.”
That’s right. Darwin = Hitler. An opinion he shared with another foe of facts, former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Indicted). He too drew a line between Darwin and Columbine. That didn’t work so well for DeLay. He, of course was later ousted and was last seen prancing around in a red and white sequined GOP leotard on “Dancing With The Stars.” Another ugly public ousting.
Yes, for politicians like Bill Foster and Tom DeLay, information and informed choices can be dangerous. What’s next? Re-writing school textbooks?
As Stephen Colbert might say, “You know who ELSE didn’t want newspapers sold by street vendors? Hitler!”
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