PERRY: People ditching vaccines or camping on the street have plenty in common, mostly, they’re people

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People hold signs against vaccine passports as they participate at the “S.O.S California No Vaccine Passport Rally” at Tongva Park in Santa Monica, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Nothing says intolerance these days like Americans do. Colorado is no exception.

In the land of “we the people” vs “no, we the people,” hating on each other is the only bi-partisan pastime we appear to have left.

There was no avoiding the hate this week after Sentinel Colorado reporter Max Levy lobbed a story into the metaverse about Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman’s promise-threat to resurrect his proposal to ban homeless people from camping on public property.

Like almost everything these days, readers lined up on two sides of the proposition.

Coffman’s idea is to send the cops after a bunch of cold, scavenging, lost, often addicted or mentally ill people. Unlike many of us, they don’t worry about traffic jams to the ski areas or the ridiculous price of Louis Vuitton’s Neverfull MM Monogram bag. I’d tell you what those cost, but if you have to ask…

As if he were waiting for the story, a Sentinel reader of the homeless camping ban story jumped in with,”Thank you, Mayor. Keep the drug addicts out of our city. The Mayor and I know that a majority of the homeless on the streets are heroin or meth addicts. The Mayor knows because he investigated the situation and I know because I’ve investigated, likewise, in my own manner. Non-addicts find a way to shelters and off the streets, heroin addicts do just the opposite, unless it’s freezing cold.”

I won’t jump back into Coffman’s ill-fated attempt to masquerade as a homeless person a year ago, nor what this dear reader’s investigation entailed.

I will, however, repeat that every credible expert, and even a brief conversation with people who are homeless, make it unequivocal that their plight, and that of thousands of people like them in the region, is complicated. 

The newsroom phone and email boxes are filled with comments like Coffman’s ally. They all have one thing in common for sure. These critics of doing anything but chasing homeless people away rarely call them “people.”

Most insist that those suffering in tents sagging under the snow brought their misery onto themselves.

They didn’t work hard enough, or at all. They spent their rent money on beer or birthday and Christmas presents for their kids they couldn’t afford, both the kids and the presents. They started smoking meth or heroin, knowing damn well how dangerous it is, and now they’re suffering the consequences of their predictable addiction.

In short, “they” got what “they” had coming to them.

It’s sad, the most sympathetic of these critics say, but it’s “their” problem. “They” need to keep it to themselves and not inflict their bad luck, bad habits or bad choices on the rest of “us,” who keep sucking it up like we’re supposed to.

For sure, there are other people, probably not the majority, who look past the mistakes that some homeless people made. Some better understand the complicated fate bestowed or imposed on many of these tented denizens and remember that despite their crisis, “they” are people.

Unimpressed, others say, rules are rules. Don’t make your personal problem a community one.

It’s so seriously unfunny, however, that these same people, in the middle of the pandemic, demand the very same sympathy that they deny homeless people.

They demand the right to choose behavior far more dangerous to themselves and all of us than hanging in a tent along Parker Road.

These are people who refuse to vaccinate against the coronavirus and then go even further, refusing to wear masks or stay out of public places, inflicting their woe on everyone. Too often, it’s with deadly consequences.

Like the nascent drug addict or drunk who believes they can quit any time they want, the budding anti-vaxxer believes it can’t or won’t happen to them, even knowing full well it can. These days it almost certainly will.

The worldwide and inarguable message to vaccinate or face the consequences has been overwhelming and ubiquitous.

But these vaccine-denying people take their poor and dangerous choices to the grocery store, to the cinema, the gym or the neighborhood bar.

They try, but cannot deny the fact that in ICUs and hospital wards across the state, about 75% of the people gravely ill, gasping for air and overwhelming our hospital system are the once-mighty anti-vaxxers, who impose their poor and dangerous choices on the rest of us.

Sound familiar? So does the response from those who toe the line on getting their vaccines and wearing masks in public.

I can’t remember the last time I sat through a press conference with state or local health officials where the topic of what to do about “them” doesn’t come up. “Them” are the anti-vaxxers stoking the pandemic and pushing our health care and hospital systems to the brink of collapse.

The constant cry from those who follow the rules, who took the poke in the arm, who wear their masks and avoid situations that almost certainly will bring on a case of the ‘rona, is, “why do we tolerate anti-vaxxers?” 

Someone regularly asks whether hospital beds and most medical services shouldn’t be reserved for those who have been vaccinated. Why give lifesaving medicines to people who won’t vaccinate while those who helped protect themselves and the herd get sick anyway and languish for therapeutics now in short supply?

Many people who find it easy to understand the complexity and anguish of homeless people have no tolerance for those who, for whatever reason, make their personal vaccine problem everyone’s problem.

Too often, we forget that no matter how aggravating and outright dangerous people are everywhere, they’re people.

It doesn’t mean they should be exempt from the rules we want and need, which living in a community requires. Keeping people who won’t vaccinate from joining the herd in public places makes just as much sense as keeping people without homes from taking over public squares, letting their drug and alcohol addictions wash over everyone.

Doing the right thing, however, starts with acknowledging that we’re talking about troubled people, not just troubles.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]

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Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
10 months ago

“Unlike many of us, they don’t worry about traffic jams to the ski areas or the ridiculous price of Louis Vuitton’s Neverfull MM Monogram bag. I’d tell you what those cost, but if you have to ask…”

What kind of humblebrag nonsense is this? No, Dave, the vast majority of us don’t worry about traffic jams to the ski areas (in fact, for decades I’ve laughed at all the idiots who waste thousands of dollars on equipment and a whole weekend sitting in their cars in traffic for the chance to fall down a snow-covered hill for 15 minutes), nor about the price of high-end purses that their spouse saw on an old Sex and the City episode. It’s hard enough trying to make ends meet in the Democrat-run Front Range without wasting money on bougie nonsense like that.

Debra MacKillop
Debra MacKillop
10 months ago

Factory Working Orphan you never have a clue what most of us are thinking, so don’t speak for anyone else

DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
10 months ago

Debra, I worry deeply about your thought process. I’m just guessing that you don’t ski nor own a gazillion dollar purse. I won’t speak for you but I’ll bet you know what I’m thinking!

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
10 months ago

Thanks for admitting that you like to worry about traffic jams to the ski areas and the cost of high-end purses just like Dave, Debra. Thankfully, most of us just worry about paying the bills.

Marie Myfanawy
Marie Myfanawy
10 months ago

Thank you Dave Perry for this deep dive into the intolerance and tribalism that is so characteristic of these times. I hope that some of us reading your editorial will see themselves reflected in your “mirror”. Remembering that we are all people seems like the first step onto a possible bridge to actually begin to resolve our differences and find compasionate solutions.

Max Parrish
Max Parrish
10 months ago

What blather! Apples. Oranges. And that meanie, Coffman! So what, Dave, just keep enabling and facilitating that does nothing to help anyone but to grow the problem bigger? You are wanting the same growing problem as California and most other democrat run cities with policies that exclude the tax paying citizen?
Maybe Aurorians don’t want to live in such hellholes. Have you even driven around this city, Dave? But you’re so compassionate and Coffman is just so mean!

Debra MacKillop
Debra MacKillop
10 months ago
Reply to  Max Parrish

Coffman always been uncaring and incompetent, no governing ability at all. Tries to blame most vulnerable among us who don’t have a voice to respond so it’s just bullying, because his supporters respond to blaming poor and vulnerable for our problems, it distracts them from fact Coffman & most of GOP have no governing or leadership management or team-oriented capabilities, only can divide, harass, bully, insult…nor do they have capacity to study issues, learn facts and data, listen to experts, and then create a plan with vision but based on the data and what has already proved successful…that’s way too hard for Coffman. Just shouting insults and groundless blaming easier and appeals to GOP.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
10 months ago

“Bully” is the name of the game. Just read their responses. And they do it so smugly.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
10 months ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

Yes, anyone who stands up to your agenda is a “bully.” Maybe if you weren’t so emotionally stunted, you could handle things not going your way all the time.

Max Parrish
Max Parrish
10 months ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

“They” don’t want to live in a 3rd world country. “They” are seeing this city turn into San Francisco or LA. “They” pay for the infrastructure that is pushed beyond their limits trying to address the problem; hospitals and services.
They have a legitimate grievance while you sit judging that because it makes you feel, what, smug? It certainly isn’t ‘caring or loving, it’s just to make you feel better than “them”.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
10 months ago

Your side has turned the Front Range in to an overpriced, crime-ridden cesspool, and marinates in the very division that you decry. You whine about “bullies” whenever you don’t get your way, like most crybaby children.

Your side doesn’t deserve to be in charge of a lemonade stand, much less a complex society.

Max Parrish
Max Parrish
10 months ago

Not wanting to live in a dump is bullying? Sorry, it’s democrat policies that create this problem, so don’t be pointing fingers!

Let me ask you, Debra, just what have you done to help the situation? Don’t fall off your high horse there patting yourself on the back for your ‘compassion and self-righteousness’ that everyone else evidently lacks. It’s easy just paying lip-service to your noble nature sitting behind a keyboard!

Debra MacKillop
Debra MacKillop
10 months ago

Coffman always been uncaring and incompetent, no governing ability at all. Tries to blame most vulnerable among us who don’t have a voice to respond so it’s just bullying, because his supporters respond to blaming poor and vulnerable for our problems, it distracts them from fact Coffman & most of GOP have no governing or leadership management or team-oriented capabilities, only can divide, harass, bully, insult…nor do they have capacity to study issues, learn facts and data, listen to experts, and then create a plan with vision but based on the data and what has already proved successful…that’s way too hard for Coffman. Just shouting insults and groundless blaming easier and appeals to GOP.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
10 months ago

You have a lot of excuses and blame-shifting, but no actual solutions that work. But that’s par for the course with radical leftists.

GeneD
10 months ago

Tsk, tsk, there you go again, attacking the person instead of the ideas. Please, at some point, offer alternative solutions or suggestions. And calm down.

Max Parrish
Max Parrish
10 months ago

It didn’t sound any better the second time you said this, either.

DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
10 months ago

Thank you, Dave, I now know that you read the comments to your rants. Being that, “dear reader” that you quote, I could express to you my life long investigations starting with the hippie revolution and will sometime when we meet and I hope we will.

In the area of using the word “people” behind homeless or not using it, could it be that most of us just shortcut to “homeless” or maybe I’m the only one. I’m guessing that I’m not. I do know when anyone writes about the homeless that it is inferred that they are a person. So enough of that silliness for both you and me.

I do believe, as you do, that every one that is homeless has a story that is complicated. I don’t believe, as you do, that it is up to me through my efforts and my tax dollars to help solve their complicated problems. What is up to me is help myself, my close friends and my family when life gets complicated and I have done that my whole life. I call that being responsible for your own actions. Could it be that most people on the streets are not? Now that is the question.

Dean
10 months ago
  • This article tells me Dave, does not get out much. Dave, you ever put gas in your car? What is the price of gas now days, do you have a clue? There is another side of society that you curiously seem to never see. You ever go by a neighborhood 7-11 that has the unending, unwinnable war with the homeless? Yea Dave, its war. Perhaps the picture will tell the story, if it post. We will see. The homeless and whatever, you want to classify them have descended on a store at Sable and Colfax. They torment the place; they steal anything that’s handy. The newspapers to burn for heat, all the firewood the store had outside. Go tell the owners that are sober, show up to work, probably invested their last dollar to get into — Go tell them— Can’t you just understand and show a little more compassion? No Dave, No More.
NIck Campbell
NIck Campbell
10 months ago

I agree with the intolerance of people, it appears that we can’t wait to jump on somebody for their words, actions, beliefs, or feelings to name a few. I don’t know if social media has helped or hurt, but we really don’t know what most people are going through on any given day. I think most ailments and addictions are invisible for the most part and people try so hard to appear normal because people are intolerant. We’ve also become complacent with things we shouldn’t, last night I heard a series of gunshots fairly close by and I didn’t panic or worry in the least. I simply took the dog for a walk. We can do better. Be well.