Friday, April 21, 2006

O'Reilly's Attack on the Homeless

On the April 18th edition of the Radio Factor, Bill O'Reilly stated that the homeless will "not support themselves" because they "want to get drunk, or they want to get high [...] or they don't want to work (because) they're too lazy." This is absolutely not true. According to the National Resource and Training Center on Homelessness and Mental Illness:
  • 38% report alcohol use problems
  • 26% report other drug use problems
  • 39% report some form of mental health problems (20-25% meet criteria for serious mental illness)
  • 66% report either substance use and/or mental health problems
  • 3% report having HIV/AIDS
  • 26% report acute health problems other than HIV/AIDS such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, or sexually transmitted diseases
  • 46% report chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or cancer
From http://www.nrchmi.samhsa.gov/facts/facts_question_2.asp

Additionally, many have had many other major problems in their life:
  • 23% are veterans (compared to 13% of the general population)
  • 25% were physically or sexually abused as children
  • 27% were in foster care or institutions as children
  • 21% were homeless as children
  • 54% were incarcerated at some point of their lives
Also from http://www.nrchmi.samhsa.gov/facts/facts_question_2.asp

As you can see, many of the homeless have suffered from sexual abuse, are mentally ill, or involuntary life-threatening diseases. Mental illness is by far the leading cause of homelessness.

From the April 18th edition of The Radio Factor:

Transcripts from Media Matters:

O'REILLY: OK, and that's exactly what happened in Los Angeles. The ACLU sued, saying that the police could not arrest or remove any homeless person on the street. Sleeping on the street, blocking the street, urinating or defecating on the street or anything. Now, they sued because the ACLU knew that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco would eventually hear the case, which it did. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, as you may know, the most liberal court this country has ever seen. Its rulings are overturned by the Supreme Court 75 percent of the time. But you take it there and you'll get probably a loony ruling, a loony ruling.

Now, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-to-1 that Los Angeles' policy of arresting homeless people for sitting, lying, or sleeping on public sidewalks violates the Eighth Amendment, protection against cruel and unusual punishment, ladies and gentlemen. Cruel and unusual punishment. An estimated 80,000 homeless are in L.A. County on any given night. An estimated 12,000 homeless live in Skid Row, a 50-block area in downtown L.A., the highest concentration of homeless in the USA. OK? Now, this lawsuit will be overturned by the Supreme Court if they hear it, and I believe they will. Because, just think about it, and the, and the [Los Angeles city] councilwoman, Ms. [Jan] Perry, made a very interesting point. This could happen anywhere in the United States.

[...]

The ACLU wants to force society to house people who will not support themselves, who will not do it, because they want to get drunk, or they want to get high, or they want -- they don't want to work, they're too lazy. They say, "OK, that's a person's choice. The government should give them a house, and food, and walking-around money, and everything else." That's what it's all about. This is the hidden agenda.