Monday, March 12, 2012

When Aspies do social activism

I'll take the Third World, please.

Once upon a time, before Hurricane Katrina washed away much of New Orleans, I'll bet this man was known to all as Mister Clarence. Mister Clarence probably didn't have much, but he had a home . . . and he had the dignity of being Mister Clarence.

Back before
le déluge, New Orleans was as Third World as it gets in what we fancy as the First, but at least it still had the dignity -- more or less -- of hearth, home and red beans and rice on Monday. Folks also had the dignity of being a someone instead of a something.

After Katrina, though, Mister Clarence ended up without a house, and he ended up in Austin, Texas. And he ended up homeless, just another nameless and unwelcome face.

AT THIS WEEK'S South by Southwest Interactive conference, though, Clarence is a hot commodity. To be precise, he's a hot-spot commodity -- desired not as a person but, instead, as Clarence the Homeless Hotspot.

Believe it or not, this is supposed to be pro-homeless activism of some sort. Many were not amused. Neither was I.

Well, I suppose it's a step up from being Clarence the Homeless Public Restroom and having to carry a urinal on your back all day. Praise God for small blessings -- like geeks not being much attracted to the plumbing-fixtures industry.

And praise God for our Third World enclaves. After we have forgotten, at long last, everything about what it was like to be human, we still will have these benighted places where we might rediscover --
as we dodge the gunshots in the ruins -- the things we used to know.

1 comment:

markx said...

Only in America, which New Orleans is decidedly not - I lived there for 8 years before moving to Omaha. The apathy and corruption is staggering...and the racism reaches to every corner of life in a rainbow of caste and hatred in which no punches are pulled. My wife is Creole and we do miss the food.