|Austin, Texas—getting hotter, and more awful every day.|
Instead of being just another 21st-century conglomeration of concrete, steel, and young unisex alphatards, for a while Austin held itself out as a place which welcomed what it called the "weird". In fact, part of the marketing of the city was a project called "Keep Austin Weird".
Of course the problem of marketing yourself as being tolerant of weirdness, or of unusual, often socially and financially challenged people, is that these folks might think you are telling the truth in your advertising, and actually come to your city, you know, to be weird for you.
And that, combined with the fact Austin has a climate that at least offers homeless people, for example, the chance not to freeze to death most of the year, has increased the population of the weird to the point where the "normal" people have had enough. In truth, they have always had enough, for just beneath the thin skin of fake affection for weirdness Austin promotes about itself, is an intense, seething disgust for that very same human quality.
An increasing number of Austinites, particularly in the largely Republican suburbs that ring Austin on the west and southwest, absolutely despise weirdness, and especially the homeless version of it, that they claim diminishes the quality of the lives of people who have homes. Recently, to illustrate that point, they charged a homeless man with arson, for allegedly starting a wildfire that burned and damaged 18 homes in Oak Hill, a southwest Austin suburb.
Even the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, a man who seems offensively weird to most of the rest of the USA, chimed in to say that the lesson to be learned from the incident was not that more attention needed to be given to the plight of the homeless, but rather that the arson laws in Texas (currently only offering a 20-year maximum for unintentionally burning people's homes) needed to be given real teeth.
Perry, voicing the opinions of many, Republican Texans, said: "I don't care if they are homeless."
And that is the increasing view of many people in Austin, who have voiced the most extreme hatred of the homeless. Comments at the statesman.com website have focused on the need, in the commenters' view, to provide a "final solution" to the homeless problem:
"Hope you feel good about buying their liquor while families homes are now destroyed. Great job. If you wouldn't give them hand outs... they wouldn't be there begging. It's like feeding deer."
"The homeless and the poor are worse than Democrats. They should all be rounded up and put in camps in Utah or someplace where we don't have to look at them."
"Get those bums out of Austin. Not only do they start fires they urinate on the street."
"I think we have proven that homeless individuals camping out can be quite dangerous and threatening."
"Their [the homeless's] anti-social behavior permeates everything they do, is a direct cause of a great deal of crime, and degrades the social fabric of the entire city."
Now, an incredibly despicable rule requiring the homeless to stand up at all times when they are out on the street (no sitting or lying down allowed), has been changed to allow people that are disabled (physically or mentally) to do so. Critics fear this leniency is a step back to the bad old days when weirdness was valued, and the most vulnerable people in the society were less hated by the residents of Austin.
As those stone-hearted residents become more openly and basely hateful, the city becomes more wretched, housing as it does more and more stupefyingly stupid Republicans every day.