Nanny State

Give a Panhandler a Buck, Get Ticketed by San Antonio Cops


Public Domain

A panhandler asks for a dollar or a bite to eat, you casually pass him a buck or a sandwich, and you…get cited by a cop with nothing better to do? That's the plan in San Antonio, Texas. The police chief there, William McManus, reportedly got a warm reception from the city council when he pushed for a law criminalizing small acts of kindness. From MySanAntonio:

SAN ANTONIO — A little act of charity — giving a buck to a panhandler — could soon become illegal in San Antonio.

Police Chief William McManus told the City Council's Public Safety Committee Wednesday that he is working with the City Attorney's Office to craft an ordinance that would give the police the authority to cite those who give cash to panhandlers…

The draft ordinance is expected to include language that would make it illegal to both give money and to give food to panhandlers.

Panhandling is already illegal in San Antonio—as it is in other control freaky communities, like Flagstaff, Arizona, which went through the bother of banning the practice a second time after the old law was ruled unconstitutional.

San Antonio then goes to the supply side of the equation, banning folks who might want to share a little largesse with the homeless, whether in cash or sustenance. Unfortunately, the city isn't exploring uncharted territory. Punishing pastors, organizations, and individuals for feeding the less fortunate has become a popular practice around the country. Sometimes, officials twist existing regulations into knots to get it done, such as jamming up a Birmingham, Alabama preacher because he lacked a food truck permit for his rolling soup kitchen.

Other times, as in the planned San Antonio ordinance, they ban charity itself.

San Antonio officials are considering "dozens of measures" intended to reduce "quality of life" crimes. One of the other planned restrictions is a ban on renting motel rooms for fewer than 12 hours at a time to make it more difficult for prostitutes to do business. So the voluntary exchange of sex for cash is apparently not considered an acceptable alternative to begging (or giving) a few bucks or a sandwich with nothing expected in return.

That perfect world they're looking for must be just one more law away.