- "The beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless
horror and disgust filled my heart."
- -- Mary Shelley's Victor Frankenstein
- Accomplishing a logic-defying feat, the wealthiest nation
in the world has "attained" the highest rate of homelessness
amongst developed countries. 3.5 million human beings experience homelessness
each year in the United States. Almost a million are homeless every night
- In the most heavily militarized nation in the history
of the human race, 30% of its homeless men are military veterans (2). What
happened to "support the troops"? Obviously once military personnel
return home, the slogan changes to "good riddance to bad rubbish".
- Ready for some "shock and awe" on the home
front? According to the National Mental Health Association, "on any
given night, 1.2 million children are homeless" in the United States.
- And what is one to make of a self-proclaimed Christian
nation (overflowing with material resources) that allows such travesties
of economic justice to persist?
- How can a Christian nation ignore the compassionate teachings
- "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty
and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me,
I was in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him,
"Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty
and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger
and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that
we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer
them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of
these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'"
- Yes, it is morally and ethically abhorrent that there
are indigent, starving, and homeless human beings in a society of people
awash in a sea of wealth.
- Yet it gets even uglier
- According to Sixty Minutes, the latest extreme means
for teens to alleviate adolescent ennui involves savagely beating the most
vulnerable human beings in the United States.
- This so-called "bum hunting" has resulted in
the murder of at least one homeless person per month for the past 60 consecutive
months. Accurate statistics are elusive at best (since few people notice
when a homeless person "disappears"). However, the National Coalition
for the Homeless determined that 500 of its lost souls have been victims
of "bum hunting" since 1999. 180 of them met violent deaths as
a result of this appalling blood sport in which the hunters stalk human
- What could inspire children to commit such depraved,
- Sixty Minutes suggested that a wildly popular DVD series
called Bum Fights was the principal catalyst for "bum hunting".
Apparently, the producers of Bum Fights paid homeless individuals a pittance
(and bribed them with alcohol) to brawl and attempt ridiculous stunts similar
to those shown in the Jackass series. Bum Fight movies also involve a character
dubbed the "Bum Hunter". In producing Bum Fights, the "Bum
Hunter" attacked randomly selected sleeping homeless people, forcibly
restrained them, and sealed their mouths with duct tape.
- 23 year old Ryan McPherson was the producer of Bum Fights.
He and two partners sold the rights to their creation for $1.5 million
(4). Sixty Minutes interviewed two of their victims, including a homeless
man named Rufus, who confirmed that McPherson paid them less than $10 and
a "couple of beers" to fight and do degrading stunts.
- When Sixty Minutes interviewed McPherson, he had this
- "We're merely exposing something that I don't think
a lot of people know exists. I think it's interesting. I can't imagine
what would make somebody do the things that Rufus was doing to himself...."
- Not surprisingly, McPherson claimed to see no connection
between his DVD productions, the millions of teens watching them, and the
proliferation of "bum hunting". It is interesting to note that
one of the teens who participated in the slaying of a homeless person told
Sixty Minutes that he had watched Bum Fights "hundreds of times"
before the murder.
- While the reprehensible McPherson and his grotesque digitally
captured exploitations of miserable souls almost certainly contributed
heavily to the popularity of "bum hunting", McPherson, his perversities,
and "bum hunting" are merely symptoms of an insidious disease
afflicting the collective psyche of the United States at a profound level.
- Beware the shadow
- It is true that since time immemorial, the wealthy and
powerful of human society have exploited and preyed upon the poor and vulnerable.
The tendency to abuse power is an inherent aspect of the shadow side of
each human being.
- A spiritually healthy human being acknowledges their
shadow side and integrates it into their being, hence minimizing the shadow's
- However, when repressed and denied, the shadow side of
the human psyche often manifests itself in a variety of violent and malevolent
ways. And throughout its history, social, economic, and political forces
in the United States have served to nurture the growth of the collective
national shadow into a loathsome monstrosity.
- What feeds the beast?
- Moral superiority has been a critical piece of the argument
the United States has used to justify the genocide of the Native Americans,
the enslavement of Black Americans, the support of numerous murderous dictators
supporting US interests in developing nations, unwavering support for the
Palestinian genocide, and the slaughter of millions of civilians in imperial
wars waged under the pretext of fighting for freedom and human rights.
People in the United States are psychologically conditioned to believe
that their nation is the salvation of humanity and to ignore or destroy
evidence to the contrary.
- Nearly endless streams of propaganda extolling the virtues
of the United States enable large numbers of US Americans to support a
ruthless empire because they believe it to be a benevolent superpower.
Aside from people suffering a serious deficit of conscience, those living
in a nearly perpetual state of denial are virtually the only ones capable
of pledging their loyalty to a nation with a predacious foreign policy
and a morally bankrupt economic system.
- How else would one explain the corporate media and the
Empire's loyal adherents celebrating Congress' passage of the Military
Commissions Act as a "victory"? Even after viewing numerous explicit
photos of the blatant torture committed by the United States military at
Abu Ghraib, a frightening number of US citizens remain unperturbed by the
fact that a man who would be fortunate to flirt with a score of 100 on
an IQ test now has the power to define and authorize torture, to imprison
virtually anyone as a "terrorist", and to negate Habeas Corpus.
- Remember when the Magna Carta was the basis for our legal
tradition? How absurd that people actually believed that this excerpt from
that other "goddamn piece of paper" was a cornerstone of a just
- No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, . . . or in any
other way destroyed . . . except by the lawful judgment of his peers, or
by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to none will we deny or
delay, right or justice.
- Many in the United States have welcomed shredding both
the Magna Carta and the Constitution by entrusting a feeble-minded tyrant
with nearly absolute power. In their delusion, Bush will protect the United
States from the "evil terrorists" by continuing to kill hundreds
of thousands of innocent human beings who had nothing to do with 9/11.
Denial is indeed a potent force. It enables supporters of the Bush Regime
to continue believing that they live in a benevolent meritocracy that actively
pursues peace, freedom, and justice for the entire human race. And it prevents
them from even considering that they might become The Decider's next victim.
- And the profound suffering of the past, present, and
future innocent victims of the "Torture Bill" is not even on
the radar screen of the Empire's loyalists. Empathy and compassion are
scarce commodities indeed in the United States. And why wouldn't they be?
- Saturated with spiritual perversions
- Employing a bizarre reverse aversion therapy-let's call
it saturation therapy-corporate news outlets, the government, Madison Avenue,
revisionist historians, television, and Hollywood work in concert to proliferate
the spiritual cancers of narcissism, avarice, hubris, materialism, self-absorption,
pornography, gluttony, pathological nationalism, obsession with external
beauty, and xenophobia.
- It is not a leap of logic to conclude that perceived
superiority over the rest of humanity, deeply rooted denial, an inculcated
devotion to rapacious capitalism, and the spiritual ills resulting from
"saturation therapy" combine to form a strong impetus for sociopathic
- Bludgeoning a defenseless human being to death is one
such behavior that immediately leaps to mind.
- The United States has the financial resources to end
homelessness tomorrow through the intelligent use of public money. Instead
its decision-makers elect to line the pockets of corporate cronies and
war profiteers by pouring $600 billion per year into entities and programs
which exist to kill human beings.
- By deliberately lavishing obscene sums of public money
on the murderous military industrial complex while seriously neglecting
programs to attack the root causes of poverty, the ruling elite of the
United States are waging an agonizing form of economic genocide against
- Preserving the delusion
- In a society that worships money, material success, youth,
and beauty, homeless human beings are anathema on several levels. Ultimately,
to preserve the delusion of the American Dream, those caught in the American
Nightmare must be eliminated in some fashion.
- The number of US homeless people relative to the number
of the homeless in other developed countries exposes the brutality of the
United States' "survival of the fittest" socioeconomic system.
- Don't think about them. You could become one of them.
- The very existence of these indigent vagabonds reminds
US Americans how fleeting and unattainable the American Dream truly is.
- Don't look at them. You could become one of them.
- 3.5 million deeply impoverished human beings forage in
garbage dumpsters while heirs like the Waltons and the Mars hoard fortunes
large enough to sustain hundreds of thousands of people.
- Don't touch them. You could become one of them.
- Homeless people are the antithesis of the American ideal.
They are often impoverished, unemployed (or under-employed), unattractive,
dirty, beaten down, and addicted to drugs or alcohol.
- Kill them so you don't become one of them.
- If horribly misguided youths don't eradicate our homeless
population, the United States' woefully inadequate (and rapidly shrinking)
publicly-funded safety nets will leave homeless people wallowing in their
misery until they are dead.
- All the while the wealthy elites of the United States
will smile with the satisfaction of homeowners who are successfully exterminating
a roach infestation.
- And as each homeless human being dies, people like Barbara
Bush will have one less "blight" on which to focus their beautiful
- (1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homelessness_in_the_United_States
- (2) http://www.helpusa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=HELP_ProgServ_VerteranServices
- (3) http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/28/60minutes/main2049967.shtml
- (4) http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/28/60minutes/main2049967.shtml
- Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American Empire who
has freed himself intellectually and spiritually. He writes prolifically,
his essays have appeared widely on the Internet, and he does volunteer
work for a homeless shelter. He welcomes constructive correspondence at
firstname.lastname@example.org or via his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/