no joke folks, this is a rough approximation of a conversation i actually had with someone.

them: you know, i find it so hard seeing so many homeless people around seattle.

me: yeah. i know what you mean. i always want to give them something they can really use- like a warm blanket or something (this said as i sat in a heated car shivering in a winter coat).

them: i used to hate taking the train to work because i’d see so many of them in the morning and they’d look hungry and i’d have to, like, run past them.

me: huh? why didn’t you tell me that? i would have picked up some bagels or something from the grocery store and you could have handed them out.

them: no way. what if i gave them bagels and they tried to rob me?

me: huh?

them: you know- like if you open your wallet to give a homeless person money and then they see that you have more money in your wallet so they decide to rob you.

me: so if you open a bag of bagels they will see that you have more bagels and they will try to rob you? like you’re afraid they might try to take the rest of the bagels?

them: you know what i mean…

me: so you’re afraid that if they see you with bagels they’ll assume you are flush with cash and that will inspire them to rob you? so if they didn’t have criminal intentions to begin with, the sight of you with bagels will just unleash some kind of latent criminal passions in them and they will go all gangsta on your bagel-wielding self and they will rob you? just like that? (let’s not even start talking about what the sight of all those people with $10 lattes must do to them!)

them: now you’re just being irrational. you know what i mean…

me: yes. you mean that bagels cause crime. (methinks this argument wreaks of latent antisemitism, but who knows???) you mean that running past a hungry homeless person is preferable to giving them a relatively harmless breakfast food. you really believe that you will cause someone to want to harm you by being nice to them? like if running past them doesn’t offend them and make them want to attack you, then offering them food surely will…

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now, bleeding hearts aside, let’s get a few things straight:

bagels don’t hurt people. cream cheese hurts people.

if you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. if you give him lox, his breath will smell worse, but his lunch will taste better.

the only thing to fear is stale english muffins.

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really, though, there are many compelling reasons for and against different policies for dealing with homelessness. we could discuss them here and debate them ad nauseam. but do we really want to hide behind fear of bagel-provoked attacks as one of them? really?