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Majority should rule when setting policy

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Houston, Texas - like countless other communities - is home to several fine libraries. But those public facilities have now become a home away from home for the city's homeless. Residents report that the homeless have begun sleeping in the libraries, bringing their meals into the library and using the restrooms as a changing center.

So some residents of Houston have taken offense that the unbathed homeless are jamming the libraries during the day as a new center of refuge. So the city council there has approved a series of regulations to put the libraries off-

limits to the homeless. Don't misunderstand. The homeless population is still welcome in the libraries but only for the use intended, not as a convenience center away from the streets.

But lo and behold, one council member has taken offense. Ada Edwards says that by targeting the homeless, the council has adopted bad policy. Well what in the world does Ms. Edwards want? Obviously the new regulation is aimed at the homeless because they are the ones creating the problem. You know, sometimes people open their mouths and let the stupidity out in the open.

Houston residents have all of the rights in the world to ban the behavior described. A library serves a purpose and when the homeless - or any other population - decides to change that purpose, then taxpayers have full rights to voice their displeasure.

When in this country did we abandon the concept that the majority, not the minority, should dictate public policy? When did we begin assuming that the rights of the few should prevail even when they come into conflict with the rights of the many?

If I help pay taxes to support a public library, I should have some rights not to be disturbed by policies that are in conflict with that facility. If the unwashed minority wants to abide by those policies, then they have every right to participate. But when they want to change the rules, then the majority has an equal right to voice their opposition.

We hope common sense and logic prevail in Houston. The plight of the homeless is indeed tragic, despite all studies that indicate an overwhelming portion of that population is there because of their own misdeeds. But when the homeless seek to overrule the majority, then my concern for their situation comes to an abrupt halt.



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