Bob vs. The Riffraff
Bust Bob's Chops

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© 1999 Brian F. Schreurs
Even we have a disclaimer.

One person's problem is another's lifestyle.
On February 2, 1999, Bob Levey said:

"The city decides after 20-plus years to reopen the 900 block of G Street NW to cars and trucks.... All it ever would have taken to give charm a chance would have been a police officer, on foot, 16 hours a day, to nudge problem people on their way."

Those darn problem people! Always causing problems for us no-problem people. What to do? What to do?

Ah yes! More police!

Problem people don't like police! Why? Because police are no-problem people! They'll pester the problem people till they go away! Move along, move along!

Homeless? Well good -- then you have no particular attachment to our plaza. Move along! Skateboarders?? We have no use for you lost-cause children here -- why don't you go play in the street where you belong! Move along!

There's a fine line between the constitutional right to assembly and no-good problem-person loitering! We're here to draw it! Wish we thought of this in '69!

But is it still loitering if they have nowhere else to go?

No time for your silly Socrates philosophy buddy! I know a problem person when I see one! What are you, some kind of columnist? Move along, here!

Problem people! They're everywhere! They make no-problem people nervous, uncomfortable. Don't want to challenge our no-problem people with different ideas and experiences! Can't have social problems pestering no-problem people's everyday lives! Gotta prevent nervous and uncomfortable no-problem people. They vote the wrong way! Move along now!

Those darn problem people never really go away though. They just move along! What to do? What to do?


More police! Yes! If one guardian of the no-problem people is good, then more must be better! Police in every park! Police on every corner! We'll chase those problem-people right out of town!

Each officer will know his block of no-problem people intimately. Look -- a stranger -- hello, I don't recognize you, can I help? Oho, just passing through, eh? Well let me help you pass on through to the next block.

Hello, I don't recognize you, can I help? What do you mean you just went through this on the last block? A troublemaker eh? We know problem people when we see them! Move along! Move along!

Too expensive? No problem! Put a camera on every corner. Hide them on telephone poles, in trees. No one will notice. Police can watch for problem people in little rooms; one monitor can do the work of ten officers! We'll dispatch someone if a problem person appears.

Oh no, there's no invasion of privacy. We're just watching. You never know when those problem people might appear. Sure, we'll keep a few records. A little of this, a little of that. All public. What you do, where you go. Outside your home. In public. We won't use it for anything. Unless YOU become a problem person. Then we gotcha!

What? Of course it would have been easier to just send an officer when any problem people became, well, problematic.

But don't you feel safer this way?