Tech company founder’s rant on the homeless shows that he’s a giant asshole

Justin Keller, the founder of Commando.io, some tech company that I can’t be bothered to look into because screw this guy, recently ranted about the homeless in his neighborhood.

But his rant wasn’t a plea to help them or a rant decrying the conditions that have made them homeless in the first place. No, it was a rant explaining why he doesn’t want to see those disgusting people. A quote:

“I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city, but the reality is, we live in a free market society. The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day.”

Yes, that last quote is correct. He “shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people.”

Photo courtesy of http://www.techmalak.com/

Photo courtesy of http://www.techmalak.com/

What’s striking about his rant is not that he thinks widespread homelessness and people getting accosted is a problem — I think we’d all agree that it is — but that his REAL problem is that he just doesn’t want to see them. As long as they are hidden away somewhere, he doesn’t give a shit. Here’s what he said in his full open letter to the mayor and police chief about hosting the Super Bowl:

“It is a very difficult and complex situation, but somehow during Super Bowl, almost all of the homeless and riff raff seem to up and vanish. I’m willing to bet that was not a coincidence. Money and political pressure can make change.”

In other words, just make them go away. That’s the change we need. Don’t address the roots of the problem or figure out how to help these people. Don’t understand why they are homeless and see what we can do to address that. Don’t figure out how to transition them back into “normal” society. Just make them go away.

Also, for the record, this guy is a colossal pussy:

I was at Kabuki Theater inside watching a movie. About two hours into the film, a man stumbled in the front door. He proceeded to walk into the theater, down the aisle to the front, wobbled toward the emergency door, opened it, and then took his shirt off and laid down. He then came back into the theater shielding his eyes from the running projector. My girlfriend was terrified and myself and many people ran out of the theater.

Seriously? A homeless dude wandering around terrified you and caused you to flee from the theater?

Get a grip.

Would that be annoying? Yes. Would it disturb your entertainment? Certainly. Would it be terrifying? Only if you’re a quivering turd.

Look, I want people loitering around my neighborhood as much as the next guy. I don’t want to see human suffering or navigate those suffering from mental illness or that sort of thing, either, because yes, it’s uncomfortable to confront. But these people are human beings. They need help and support, not to be pushed away into some closet so we can pretend the problem doesn’t exist.

The fact is, a huge number of homeless in America suffer from mental illness. They don’t need scorn, they need help. If they’re living where you work and recreate, it’s because the system failed them. Shoving them off into a corner doesn’t make the problem go away, it just makes it so your entitled ass doesn’t have to confront the real world.

Eroding work opportunities, widespread foreclosures, and poverty are also major factors in homelessness. These people also don’t benefit from your scorn. What they’d benefit from are the jobs and affordable housing they so desperately want and are willing to work hard for. They want to get their lives back.

Photo from troymedia.com & bohcommunity.org

Photo from troymedia.com & bohcommunity.org

And most important of all, more than half of the homeless in America are families hit by a sudden and catastrophic life change. They’re regular people who got dealt a shit hand in life. Hard to imagine it when you live in a comfortable bubble, but it happens. For far too many Americans, a sudden job loss or major illness can force them to choose between eating and paying the rent/mortgage. Most will eventually climb out of their situation (and no, you won’t know when you see them on the street whether or not they are on an upward climb, so don’t be judgmental). Some, consumed by their surroundings, despair, and depression, succumb to addiction and get caught in a spiral that is difficult to break out of.

In almost all cases save a very small percentage, these are people who need help.

And the most important part of that sentence is “these are people,” which is something Justin Keller seems to forget. We’re failing hundreds of thousands of people a year, many of them veterans, because too many people think the homeless should be out of sight instead of given the assistance they need to restart their lives.

So basically, fuck this entitled shit and his dehumanizing garbage.