A Letter to the Editor: Response to Panhandler Like Me

A Letter to the Editor: Response to Panhandler Like Me

by Ann Mitchell
Jim Luken with his sign doing an experiment to learn how panhandlers are treated in OTR Photo: Greg Hand

What an ironic juxtaposition! Jim Luken’s article about posing as a panhandler, across from Josh Spring’s headline, “Infuriating Fakeness.”  Spring says, “I am infuriated with fake,” but Luken’s scam, and the article he wrote about it, are much more infuriating.

The people who passed Luken without “helping” him don’t need an excuse for enjoying their evening without interruption. They may be taking a break from caring for an aged parent or a house full of small children. They may have a stressful job, but it offers them the opportunity to help others through the United Way, or through making contributions to political candidates who fight for social justice, or to Doctors Without Borders, who help the sick in war-torn areas, or to local agencies like Welcome House and the FreeStore Foodbank. Maybe they work for women’s healthcare at Planned Parenthood, or donate veterinary services to families who might lose their pet because they can’t afford its care.

Are those people bad people because they don’t want to open their wallet in the middle of the sidewalk to give to someone posing as needy? And think who you reach with this story – people who’ve bought Street Vibes from a vendor. Do they deserve your guilt trip? Maybe the person who really needs a lesson in compassion is Jim Luken.

– Ann Mitchell