Panhandling scary? Buy the Mall
That we are faced with a brazen, organized movement to legislate citizen speech and behavior in a public space is shocking and infuriating. [December 6 cover story: "Season of giving: Is panhandling, vagrancy, destroying the Downtown Mall?"]
If you envision what the Mall would look like with all of these ordinances in effect, then you will know what the view looks like from halfway down a very slippery slope. These actions attack the liberties that underpin the American way and the characteristics of an evolved society. This movement poses nothing less than an existential threat to the fabric of our culture.
The Mall is not a private space. It is a public one.
Here's a suggestion that would enable those business owners and area residents who feel threatened to restrict citizen behavior in an acceptable way: Buy the Mall. Form a corporation and buy the Mall from the city. Make it a private space, like the Fashion Square Mall or Disney World. Hire a private security force to patrol your property. Install cameras. Tell me I cannot say anything profane. Dictate the size and placement of signs. Perhaps you might want to erect gates at the entrances to your property. You may even decide to charge admission.
But until then, while the air is still free and public money makes it possible for you to conduct business and stroll on those shiny new bricks, back off. Do not conspire to control what I can say, and do not tell me that your cameras will be watching me and my children.