|Wagging about: against the law in these parts|
But then, how would you know the purpose of someone? I imagined riding past this sign, seeing three guys hanging around, and thinking to myself, yep, they're loitering. But thinking it over, it's not that they had no purpose whatsoever. I'm sure my imagined three guys had some purpose in hanging out there, even if it was to drink beer concealed in rumpled paper bags, smoke weed, and kill time, they still most definitely had a purpose.
So rather than hanging around with no real purpose, it's probably more accurately something like, "hanging around with a purpose I don't approve of," or something similar to that. I mean, imagine the same three guys, exact same place and time, but each holding a shovel, moving gravel from a pile into holes. Not loitering, right? So it's not about no purpose, it's about a judgment of purpose. This purpose, shoveling gravel, is OK (for some reason), but that other purpose, beer/weed/killing time, is not OK.
Once I saw a homeless guy sitting right there on the ledge, next to his shopping cart full of stuff, reading Catcher in the Rye. Loitering, or not?
Could the same person, in the same place, sitting still, be guilty of loitering depending on what the purpose of their sitting still was? I read that St. Francis's great prayer, which he sometimes spent all night praying, was "Who are you, God? And who am I?" So let's imagine one guy sitting here silently praying and contemplating that, while another sitting in the same place is just waiting to meet an acquaintance who's bringing him some liquor. Both not really doing anything, not moving. Both loitering? And how's a police officer to decide? Would he somehow know it when he sees it? Anyway, is it actually required that I state my purpose? Praying Francis' great prayer, or waiting for booze, either one is private, isn't it?
|Parked my bike by this nice sitting log to contemplate|
I couldn't shake the feeling, though, that the NO LOITERING laws and signs are for hassling people considered to be undesirable, mainly so that they can go loiter somewhere else. Or, perhaps, go and do something "productive," go an pick up a shovel and move some gravel, rather than sitting on a log in the sun beside the canal.
Who are you? And who am I?