Sometimes, you accuse legislatures of imposing sham equality, and suggest that's at least iffy under the 14th amendment. This happened in several gay marriage threads, for example. Whenever you do this, you like to quote Anatol France: "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." This Las Vegas City ordinance fails even your "Anatol France test" for sham equality: It forbids the poor, but not the rich, to be given a sandwich in a park. This leads to two obvious questions. (1) Why are you defending this ordinance? (2) Since you think sham equality is a problem in the case of gay marriage, why don't you think it's a problem in this case?
Well, I'm operating under a disadvantage here (and I've violated one of my personal rules as well) in that I haven't read the ordinance, so I'm really defending the idea
behind the ordinance. If the ordinance prohibits handing out food to groups of people in the parks, then I don't have any problem with it, for the reasons that I've stated already. If, on the other hand, the ordinance singles out the homeless as the only people who can't be fed in the parks, then that's another matter entirely. If that is the case, then I'd have to rethink my position on fourteenth amendment grounds. But I'll have to wait until I see a copy of the ordinance before I decide.
Nevertheless, I still don't think that the homeless are particularly disadvantaged by not being able to eat in the parks in groups, since other locations are available for the mass feeding of the homeless. Furthermore, I don't think that the parks should be used as sites for mass, unregulated feedings for anyone
. If Ms. Sacco were operating an unlicensed pushcart and selling food, rather than operating an unregulated mobile soup kitchen and giving the food away, I would still oppose it.
Nor do I think this is an instance where the state is imposing "sham equality" on the populace. Unlike a law that forbids the rich to sleep under bridges or that allows gays to enter only into heterosexual unions, a law that prevents people from distributing food in the parks doesn't uniquely burden the homeless so long as there are other locations where they can be fed, and I see no evidence that suggests that the homeless in Las Vegas have nowhere else to go to get their meals. Compare that to a law that prohibited giving food away to anybody under any circumstance -- that
would be more analagous to the "sham equality" that Anatole France criticized.