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Response to a Text: Beggars of Britain

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Response to a Text: Beggars of Britain Dear Mr. Parsons, I am writing in response to the article "Beggars of Britain" published on Arena, September/October 1991. Living in Kenya - a third-world country - I deal with the same situation on a daily basis, and, to be honest, I was shocked and appalled by your article. I found your arguments way too extreme and completely partial, besides, your intolerant tone resembles fascism at times . There are a few reasonable points in your text, but the amount of absurdly offensive statements practically cancels them out. Also, I found the use of humour excessive and offensive. It is understandable that being faced with such an excessive situation would make you feel increasingly uneasy, and I must admit that it is a sad truth that after a while these situations "harden your heart, put callouses on your soul...make every cry for help seem like junk mail". However, this is no justification for your shockingly intolerant and obnoxious argument. Clearly, you let your emotions interfere with your logic. ...read more.


I'll admit that many of them simply get comfortable in their easy lives, but the matter isn't quite as simple as that. You do make a few good points ("booze is a bigger factor than bad luck in the begging world"; "any liberal guilt I might feel about brushing past yet another beggar...has long been overwhelmed by compassion fatigue"), but your generalisations and loss of perspective completely contaminates your article, and works to invalidate any sensible ideas you may have expressed somewhere along the line. I found it rather offensive that you constantly insult beggars with such harsh expressions as "stinking of cheap lager with snot on their chin and a mangy mutt on the end of a piece of string" or "ask the beggars for 'loose change', rather than money for a cup of coffee or...to catch the bus...Everyone knows you are going to piss it away." Their personal hygiene is hardly something they can be judged for. Their smell and appearance may be unpleasant to you, but these men and women live on the streets and have no money. ...read more.


There is nothing wrong with using humour in an article such as this one, but your little jokes are far too insensitive (and frequent) to be funny. Furthermore, when inserted in such an intolerant and offensive piece, your sort of humour seems very offensive and ultimately makes for unpleasant reading. I don't know how others would react, but personally, as I read your article I grew increasingly irritated with your childish and irresponsible thoughts, and every little joke simply made me more irritated. In conclusion, your text does not convince, for a matter of tone. Any sense there may be in your opinions is overcome by the absurdity and unpleasantness with which you present your ideas. For instance, when you relate the increase in begging to the fall of taboos. This statement is understandable, but loses all its validity when you use begging to disrespect the elderly, violence towards women, and incest ("You would sleep with your sister before you went begging"). In the future, Mr Parsons, I suggest that when dealing with a delicate and controversial topic, you chose your words more carefully, so as not to strike your readers. ...read more.

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