Dear Editor, 

Current efforts of some on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to ban street panhandling are cruel and wrong-headed. Anyone can lawfully stand in the public right of way, and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that panhandling is protected speech. Proponents evoke fear of fatal accidents, even as police say their incident data doesn’t reveal any problem in need of solving. If public safety is the argument, though, where were ban advocates in September when members of the county fire department stepped into local intersections for their “Fill the Boot” fundraiser? Ban advocates reveal their true, spiteful agenda when they suggest those panhandling should just get a job. There certainly are good programs and better, more responsible ways to help struggling and disadvantaged people than tossing them coins on the street. They have every right to ask for help in the legal manner they choose, however, and shouldn’t be the target of anyone’s judgment or hypocrisy, especially from those elected to lead.

Bill Farrar


(3) comments


Bill Farrar, my apologies in advance as this is a little long...Yet!

Could you post the case where the SCOTUS ruled panhandling is Freedom of Speech? I have attempted to research it yet it does not appear any where...In all seriousness...

Now as far as Fire Fighters emulating panhandlers for their cause, that is an erogenous statement and misrepresentation of what they are doing.

100% of the money collected is given to various charities such as the Shriner's to help the children in burn units, it goes to homeless shelters, Women shelters, to the elderly and on and on through out the country... How dare you slander Fire Fighters and the honorable deeds they do!

You should be ashamed! I have helped so called panhandlers before only to be verbally and physically attacked, only for asking could I buy them food... Not even exaggerating. I do not freely give out money for alcohol or drugs such as Fentanyl or Meth... Doing so is irresponsible...

Now being a life long Irish Roman Catholic, I can absolutely say many people do not care or adhere to what this pope has to say... He is merely a religious figure head...




Nothing in my letter was critical of firefighters. In fact, if you follow my logic, I support their right to ask for money in the right of way. I'm critical of those who support rights for one group but not everyone.


Thank you for this. Nobody likes panhandling, including the panhandlers themselves. But these are human beings in need, using tactics that are effective enough that the fire department emulates them, as this writer noted. So far our social safety net has been inadequate.

My husband and gave our "pandemic money," and the recent weird $500 check from the Commonwealth of Virginia, to the Lamb Center. We admire their practical assistance to homeless people. There are many other groups also doing good work.

I'm not Catholic or even a Christian, but I was profoundly moved by the words of Pope Francis. The pontiff was asked about the morality behind choosing to give money to a panhandler. He replied that 'giving money to someone begging on the street is “always right.” What if the recipient of your gift decides to uses the money to buy a glass of wine instead of food? If “a glass of wine is the only happiness he has in life,” the pope replied, “that’s OK. Instead, ask yourself, what do you do on the sly? What ‘happiness’ do you seek in secret?”' That man, unlike others I could name, knows what Christianity is.

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