Friday, April 14, 2006

More Ninth Circus nonsense

Today, the Ninth Circuit found a constitutional right to be homeless. This nonsense opinion, purporting to rest on the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, essentially finds that being homeless is generally "involuntary." Hogwash. In the Ninth Circuit's defense, there is some precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court finding other actions to be "involuntary" that clearly are not - the Ninth Circuit's opinion relies mostly on Byron White's concurrence in Powell v. Texas, 391 U.S. 514 (1968).

In Powell, old Wizzer accepts the nonsense that an alcoholic is wholly, completely, utterly powerless to stop drinking, as if immobilized and hooked up to a feeding tube of Jack Daniels. First, alcohol is not addictive physiologically any more than, say, gambling or knitting are "addictive." Obsessive/compulsive people may have a harder time resisting the urge to gamble or knit, but that does not make it impossible, just harder. The same is true of drugs with physiologically addictive effects, such as withdrawal symptoms. It is not impossible to stop, just harder. Hard does not equal impossible.

So, bolstered by this sociologically constructed, non-scientific and illogical nonsense about "involuntary" actions, the Ninth Circuit seamlessly concludes that being homeless is generally involuntary. Bullshit!!!! Stay in school! Get a job! Show up on time! Don't have kids if you're not married!

The Ninth Circuit's nonsense is summed up by this breathlessly stupid sentence, devoid of any supporting argument: "Even if Appellants' past volitional acts contributed to their current need to sit, lie, and sleep on public sidewalks at night, those acts are not sufficiently proximate to the conduct at issue here for the imposition of penal sanctions to be permissible." See slip opinion at pp. 43-44. The only support for this sweeping statement - that past acts of homeless people . . . aw, heck, let's use the correct terminology famously and bluntly stated in Pulp Fiction: "bums" . . . that the past acts of bums leading them to become bums, no matter what, are not sufficiently "proximate" to their present predicament (not “status” or “condition” or other incorrect euphemisms used to equate being a bum with catching the flu) – is an unelaborated citation to footnote 2 of Wizzer’s Powell concurrence.

The Ninth Circuit seems to be using the word “proximate” not in its legal sense of “causally related” (which is fitting since the Ninth Circuit abandoned the law long ago) but in its more general sense, meaning “close in time.” This is the only explanation for the Ninth Circuit’s conclusion because the first part of the sentence expressly admits causation, i.e., “even if Appellant’s past volitional acts contributed to their current need to sit [etc.].”

This is America. I feel extremely justified in saying that nearly all bums are bums voluntarily. Not “voluntarily” in the sense that they actively desired that outcome and worked to accomplish that goal, but “voluntary” in the sense that it was perfectly within their ability to prevent their predicament, yet they made bad choices with the foreseeable result of winding up bums. Yes, it is harder for some people to avoid being bums than others, but that is the case with everything. For some people, no doubt, it is very hard. For those in especially hard predicaments, charity is warranted (which private and individuals and organizations have provided and will continue to provide). Just don’t insult my intelligence by claiming being a bum resulted from the same passive, random chance as multiple sclerosis or leukemia.

Update: Jack Dunphy of NRO must read this blog because he said everything I said. I was first, though.


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