Koan of the Day

|

County bureaucrats in Indiana evicted a man from his van because the makeshift home wasn't up to code.

NEXT: Study Reveals: Doctors Are Stupid

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. That’s pretty funny. Well. Maybe not.

    In Californicate there are several similar methods used to get rid of tenants who won’t pay the rent. Have the inspectors come out and declare the place unfit for habitation. Boom. The tenants are evicted.

  2. I don’t see what the problem is. I’m from the government and I was there to help.

  3. It is inevitible that someone will post this so lets get it over with. Did the guy live in a van down by the river?

  4. I’m quite surprised by the size of the “blame the newspaper” crowd, what talk as if it’s fine that we have bullshit laws so long as no one notices that people are happily and peacefully breaking them. I guess they’re the same folks who blame the victims of breakins for not having enough security rather than blaming the perpetrators.

  5. No One- In fairness, the newspaper should have been able to anticipate that outcome. To work with your break-in analogy, imagine if the paper had published a story about how Mr. Smith,who owns a plasma TV and collects jewels, leaves his door unlocked when he goes to work. It’s just a story about one trusting guy, right? A slice of life?
    The person who breaks into Mr. Smith’s house is responsible for the crime, but since the outcome was easy to forsee, the paper would share some culpabiliity.

    Let’s try another one. Suppose I did a story about a cancer patient who illegally uses pot to medicate himself. The story’s angle is that the government should leave this poor bastard alone. But I also publish the patient’s name and address, and mention that he keeps his pot in a little baggie in the toilet. Would I not share the blame when the cops drag him off?

  6. Who gives a flying fuck if some moron loser was evicted from his van? Oh, wait a minute. First they came for the loser morons living in vans. Then they came for the losers morons living with parents. Then they came for the mildly retarded…

  7. Everyday my dog farts allah.

  8. And next they came for the smartasses who post, yet bring nothing useful to the discussion. Do you hear the knocking yet, Edward?

  9. “Q: Did the Star folks stop to consider that they might be getting Green and Big Red Discount Towing in trouble?”

    A: They do if they adhere to the New York Times Code of Journalistic Responsibility.

  10. I don’t care how dirty they are, they can’t evict me from my underwear.

  11. I’m sure the guy will be much more comfortable living on the street or in a homeless shelter.

    Christ! Kicking someone out of a home that’s “not good enough” and claiming it’s for their own benefit is just classic do-goodism in action. Why the hell didn’t someone at the Star ask that social worker where the hell she expects the guy to live now?

  12. “And next they came for the smartasses who post, yet bring nothing useful to the discussion. Do you hear the knocking yet, Edward?”

    At the outset, I would like to express that I think you are an insufferable asshole.

    That being said, Edward’s post IS thought-provoking. Where does the slippery slope end?

    I own my home outright and plan to retire there, but I do wonder what could happen when I’m old and gray should the County determine that something — anything — isn’t up to code. in my city, they fine you by way of a levy on your property taxes, which could be tough for an old guy on a fixed income. And if the taxes aren’t payed, the county takes the home.

    Did I mention you’re an asshole?

  13. I feel a little bad for the reporters, in the same way you feel a little bad when little kids find out there’s no Santa Claus.

    Underestimating evil is not helpful, but it is way down there on my list of personality flaws.

  14. A libertarian friend, Ed Huser/Hughes, lived the same way for years at a gas station in Ft. Lee, NJ. He even moved out of one van on the lot into another there that he spent a while making improvements to. He left after the station’s owner died.

  15. Future Retiree: Edward wasn’t making a slippery slope argument (which we could presume to be fallacious unless he demonstrated how x led to y and then z, etc.), he was being a smartass. Which is fine, except that his post didn’t contribute much of anything useful.

    Your worries are valid, but I don’t think edward was saying anything about that.

    As for being an insufferable asshole: I may well be guilty, but most people wait until they know more about me than can be gleaned from one post before leveling that accusation.

    Rest assured, though, that I find you charming and astute. You are, no doubt, a very handsome and powerful man.

  16. Suppose I did a story about a cancer patient who illegally uses pot to medicate himself. The story’s angle is that the government should leave this poor bastard alone. But I also publish the patient’s name and address, and mention that he keeps his pot in a little baggie in the toilet. Would I not share the blame when the cops drag him off?

    Reminds me of the time my college newspaper printed an article that casually mentioned, in the course of praising a local bar, that they didn’t card underage drinkers there.

    For the next couple months, the place carded everyone. A lot of folks were pissed at the paper for that, and rightly so…

    The owner, by the way, was a great Italian anarchist with pictures of Sacco and Vanzetti on one of the tavern walls. I’m told that after I left town he ran for mayor as a Libertarian.

  17. “Rest assured, though, that I find you charming and astute. You are, no doubt, a very handsome and powerful man.”

    I’ll take “things an asshole would say” for $500, Allan.

  18. You mean Alex, FR. Alex Trebeck. Host of Jeopardy.

  19. Fight!
    Fight!
    Fight!

  20. In this corner, we have crotchety soon-to-be-old man, Future Retiree!

    And in this corner, we have the latest in a long, well not that long, line of assholes, Number 6!

    Let’s get ready to RRRRRRRUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMMBBBBBBLLLLE!!!!!!

  21. I can’t, highnumber. I’m laughing too hard. But I hereby promise not to screw with FR anymore. It’s hard to gripe about people posting silly crap only tangentally related to the topic at hand while posting silly crap…well, you get the idea.

  22. How do you work this interweb thing anyway?

  23. Jesse Walker- That is a great example of what I’m talking about. While I don’t blame the paper, exactly, for what happened to this guy, I do think that it’s a journalist’s professional responsibility to give some thought to the effect of a story on the subject.

    Another example: For quite a while, I’ve wanted to do a feature on a local head start program that serves the migrant community, or on an old school that local migrant workers have purchased and turned into an insular, but functional, place to live. In both cases, I’ve held back in part because I’m nervous about what turning attention on those groups might do to them. While the head start program would probably benefit from that sort of a story, the migrant community I mentioned almost certainly would not. Those sorts of decisions are an essential part of ethical reporting.

  24. That said, there’s a pretty big difference between shining the spotlight on a bar that doesn’t card undergrads and shining the spotlight on a local character who’s getting by on a low budget. The first is an obvious violation of the law, and it’s one you’d expect the government to enforce. The second isn’t an obvious violation of the law; indeed, the official may have twisted the law out of shape to evict the guy.

  25. Tell me, my son, what is the sound of one man whacking?

  26. I have to side with the newspaper – that some bureaucrat would say, “Huh, better go evict that guy from the van he lives in!” is just so…damn. It sounds like something I’d put into a broad satire of social services in this country.

    As for Crum and company? Bastards. Sheer bastards.

  27. Do we know where the guy is now?
    Has Sheryl Crum been fired or moved to a department where she can do less harm?

    I need closure.

    Is the paper culpable? No, they were slightly irresponsible, but they deserve no blame. It reminds me of a football move that came out a few years ago. One scene featured college or high school football players lying down in the street or on train tracks. I guess that within the context of the movie, it was supposed to be a bravery test. I never saw the movie. I heard about it on the news because some idiot kids imitated it. Someone got killed. Blame the filmmakers? No, but they should be more responsible. One should take into account that a stupid football movie will be watched by a lot of stupid impressionable people.
    I am suggesting there is a difference between culpability and responsibility.

  28. Let me also add that since the writer and his editor considered their responsibility to Mr Green, they were obviously aware of what could happen to him. They took a chance and they were wrong.

  29. They took a chance and they were wrong.

    They underestimated Sheryl Crum’s capacity to do evil and call it virtue. And they should have used those exact words in their follow-up story.

  30. Alternate scenario: Government official ignores newspaper report, hermit dies from preventable episode (fire, infestation) foreseeably arising out of notoriously unsafe condition, government agency sued, loses.

  31. …government agency sued, loses.

    You’ve never heard of sovereign immunity, have you?

  32. ….government agency sued, loses. – FTA.

    Oh, no. The Supreme Court has ruled that, while you can hope for agents of the state to show up to exercise the police power, you can’t depend on it. Then there’s the sovereign immunity hurdle.

    It’s Big Red who would get sued.

    Kevin

    (Reading H&R while Bush blathers on sure makes the SOTU nonsense slightly more bearable.)

  33. Fascist Troll’s Attorney-

    Come on, that’s almost as far fetched as the original scenario.

  34. * shrivels * …almost.

    OK, not sued, but heads roll. Like those foster children neglect cases. The stuff of Pulitzer Prizes.

  35. Hey. I’ve had lunch with Number 6, and he’s not an asshole. No need to get your Depends in a knot, Future Retiree.

  36. what exactly is the paper culpable for? it is in the best interest of every citizen that all laws are enforced to the letter. it is when laws are selctively or rarely enforced that bad lawas are able to remain on the books to be used by the executive branch willy nilly to persecute specific individuals.

    i want all laws enforced especially the bad ones…otherwise the voting body will simply never notice that our legislation is passing crummy laws.

    mike

  37. Now from what I hear, you’re usng your paper not for writing but for rollin’ doobies! You’re gonna be doing alot of doobie rolling when you’re living in a van down by the river!

  38. Sounds like this author has a future at TNR.

  39. smartasses who post, yet bring nothing useful to the discussion

    Why does Number 6 hate 87% of H&R posters?

  40. This is eminently understandable from the bureaucrat’s POV. No city wants to have a reputation of having parking lots full of bums living in vans. It reminds me of the Calcutta authorities harassing Mother Theresa and her nuns because they drew attention to the fact that Calcutta wasn’t a socialist paradise.

  41. This woodland creature seconds Mr. Darkly’s assessment of Number 6.

    Place yer bets. Place yer bets. “Edward” and “Future” are the same person. We have a little bit of Gunnelsitis (heiter ohne zu verletzen) goin on here!

    Jeez. Two twaddlenocks for the price of one. But we have a big tax here, so one must go away to government “protection”.

  42. They underestimated Sheryl Crum’s capacity to do evil and call it virtue. And they should have used those exact words in their follow-up story.

    Bravo! Well said! Kudos to you, Jennifer.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.