It's rarely fun being panhandled. But do cities have the right to ban the practice completely?
Kentucky's Supreme Court will soon decide in a case involving a panhandling ban in Lexington, and there are several interesting points to consider. Is a person simply holding a sign asking for money inherently dangerous? Are assaults on our delicate sensibilities at all equivalent to actual physical assault?
And don't beggars have the same free speech rights as everyone else?
Certainly, panhandling can get out of hand - like when a beggar refuses to take "no" for an answer and harasses the victim for blocks, or when the request for money is accompanied by a threat.
But those are easy. Once anyone's behavior crosses the line into physical harassment and intimidation, we have plenty of laws to lock up the offender.
But I think a law against simply asking is overkill. Like it or not, I think a simple request for a handout on a public sidewalk is no different than a request for a vote on that same sidewalk, and I don't think our politicians want to open up that can of worms.
I believe in Constitutional rights, so I say Lexington's blanket ban on panhandling should be overturned, and we should let the many existing laws against assault and harassment take care of those who take things too far.
I'm Bill Lamb and that's my Point of View.