You have to love the term camping as it used in laws passed by cities throughout the country to “deal” with the legions of the homeless that have become a common feature of the twenty-first-century urban landscape. The measures make it illegal for the homeless to sleep in sleeping bags, tents, or other constructed outdoor shelters anywhere where camping is unauthorized — viz., alleys, sidewalks, public parks, and the like. In other words, those with no home to go to are still permitted to sleep outdoors. They just can’t cover up if they have the capacity to do so, even if the thermometer plummets.
Such an ordinance was passed in Pensacola, Fla., last May. At the time it probably seemed like a relatively harmless measure. Lows at that time of year are routinely in the high 60s. But now, with the polar vortex bringing frigid blasts to much of the country, including Pensacola, the law can mean death for those unlucky enough to be stranded out of doors.
A blogger named Jeremy Bosso recently made an impassioned plea before the City Council. The text of his remarks follows:
I just wanted to bring to your attention, WEAR ABC News posted a sort of Public Service Announcement, if you will, just reminding people with this cute little meme on their Facebook page. It’s a cute little dog, and it says “If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them. Please bring your pets inside. Please share to get out this message.” I would just like to say that I fully agree with this, that if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pets. But I would also like to ask that the City Council extend that same courtesy to our fellow human beings. The temperatures have reached the teens recently. It’s expected to be a hard freeze tonight. And because of that, I’d like to ask the Council to respectfully reconsider the “camping” ordinance that I believe several other people have mentioned, that does prohibit sleeping with a blanket, a sleeping bag. I think we should extend that courtesy to our fellow humans. I mean, we do it for the animals, and I think we should respect life at all stages.