Before her fibromyalgia became so severe that she had to quit working, Dymphna’s final job was at a charitable organization that helped mentally ill people, many of them homeless. This week’s edition of Dymphna’s Greatest Hits (from September 2009) draws on that work experience.
Homeless or Not??
Originally published on September 29, 2009
The story below has been on my mind ever since it arrived via email a few weeks ago.
First, I’ll present just the story itself, which my friend thought amusing (as did all the commenters at the site). After you read it and decide for yourself what this situation is about, I’ll give my interpretation of the events. Having saved our email exchange, I’ll also give my friend’s arguments against my interpretation.
Several blogs posted this when it first appeared. Unfortunately, I no longer remember where I ran across their posts, though I do remember they drew the same conclusion as my friend, i.e. that it was simply a weird amusing story from Kansas:
A man and woman decided to give the phrase “Dumpster diving” a new twist over the weekend, crawling inside one on North Waco so they could be alone.
But while they were engaged in what Wichita police described as “an intimate moment,” they were robbed by a man armed with a pocket knife.
It all unfolded shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday in the 700 block of North Waco, police said, when the man and woman, both 44, crawled into the trash container for privacy.
A short time later, a 59-year-old man and his 64-year-old companion interrupted the couple inside the trash container.
With the older man encouraging him, the 59-year-old man pulled out a pocket knife and took shoes, jewelry and the 44-year-old man’s wallet.
Police were notified, and officers found the two suspects a short time later. The stolen property was recovered.
Okay, there you have the bare facts. I looked around for more details, but none were to be had. Thus, we’ll have to go with what we’ve got here.
How did you read this story?
Here’s my response to my friend:
Thanks for sending this (I think). It made me immensely sad.
I felt so sorry for all of those people. They were like something out of a Flannery O’Connor short story. Degraded and such casual evil.
The couple must’ve been homeless. And the villains don’t sound any better off.
I’m not sure I’m up to reading the comments about them unless there is some compassion somewhere in them. Is there?
My friend didn’t agree with my interpretation at all. He wrote back:
I doubt that they are homeless.
Remember that the thieves got away with jewelry and a wallet.
And most homeless people don’t call the cops when something happens. If anyone was homeless, I think it was the robbers.
As I read his reply, the time I’d spent working with homeless people came flooding back in full Technicolor. I intuitively knew that these were not only homeless people but likely from that class of homeless known as “the ambulatory mentally ill”.
The fate of these folks is the result of legislation going back to Kennedy’s era, when the enlightened elite decided to open the doors of our mental institutions and send patients back into their communities to be cared for by local folks. Of course this novel legislation, which eventually created “Community Service Boards” who would oversee the mentally ill, was another case of unfunded or underfunded federal do-goodism. If you think ObamaCare is a good idea, just look at federal mandates as they apply to CSBs. It would be funny if it didn’t damage so many people. And if the dedicated staff at your local CSB didn’t have so few resources to help the walking weirdoes (as other homeless people call them).
This report [pdf], by Kaiser, is overly optimistic in my view: