Panhandling is free speech

Panhandling is free speech

Re: "Medford to appeal ruling on panhandling" (May 9 Tidings):

Speaking only for myself, and not for the ACLU, it is unwise and professionally questionable for Medford's chief of police and city attorney to appeal the Jackson County Circuit Court's ruling that the 2008 anti-panhandling ordinance is unconstitutional.

Medford City Councilman Al Densmore's suggestion that the Court of Appeals should give the city more guidance is nonsense. The guidance is quite clear in prior judicial decisions: When someone asks for a handout, he is exercising freedom of speech. In enacting the 2008 ordinance, the city attorney and the city council disregarded the ACLU's warning about applicable case-law and plunged ahead with the predictably doomed ordinance.

Councilman Densmore's statement that the city worked hard on the ordinance so it would ban only "aggressive" or "dangerous" panhandling is also nonsense. No anti-panhandling law is necessary — it is already a crime for someone to block a pedestrian's way, threaten assault, or create a traffic hazard.

Neither the scant handful of citizen complaints about panhandling, nor the ordinance, were aimed at aggression or danger. They were driven by bigotry against panhandlers. Uncomfortable at the sight of bedraggled beggars, some want to ban them — contrary to moral values and the constitution.

Shame on the city attorney and the chief of police for not abiding by their oaths to uphold the constitution — even if it may be unpopular to do so.

Ralph Temple

Ashland

Hunting on the commons

It is absurd for a person walking on common ground next to her own property to be charged with "obstructing the taking of wildlife" because she flapped a plastic bag. All she was doing was stalking the wild asparagus. It would be just as stupid for the "hunters" to be cited for disturbing her endeavor. What are "hunters" doing in so close to anybody anyway? Oh, I forgot, they were teaching to kill sentient beings "ethically." What kind of ethics is it to teach a child to lay in wait for and kill an innocent animal that wants to live as much as does the person who pulls the trigger? This is a "sport?" It's scary that there are men with guns hiding near your home; it's scarier to know they teach their kids that what they are doing is not only legal but ethical.

Ragan Cavanaugh

Ashland