C. R. Douglas' Seattle Inside Out (click to see the show) recently took up the issue of whether Seattle should adopt a Tacoma-style panhandling ordinance. The Tacoma law has dealt with the free speech argument by imposing time, place, and manner restrictions that are so stringent as to effectively ban panhandling altogether. Panhandling in Tacoma is a misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine or 90 days in jail.
On the pro side was City Attorney Tom Carr, who says we should adopt their ban on dusk to dawn panhandling here in Seattle, and the preternaturally square-jawed Paul Guppy from the right-libertarian Washington Policy Institute, who said that if you ban panhandling the homeless will flock to the housing and treatment options that are now so richly available.
Guppy. the Aryan-looking chap pictured above, wins the prize for sophistry (a subtle, tricky, superficially plausible, but generally fallacious method of reasoning), for his argument that we should ban panhandling because it's unpleasant, and to allow it is to deny ordinary people access to public space. He also said that we should remember that homeless people are humans that should be treated with respect, and the best way to do this is to pass legislation that limits their visibility.
Tom Rassmussen vigorously pointed out the inadequacy of current housing and services, and pointed out that people complain about violence, noise, and drug dealing in Seattle, but literally no one is complaining about panhandling. Rasmussen also noted that Seattle already has an aggressive panhandling ordinance, and it seems quite adequate. About 150-200 people are arrested each year under its provisions.
They also interview some Tim Harris guy, who fills out the bill as the wild-eyed radical.