This video was recently drawn to my attention, and frankly, I don't think much of it. It's a blatant, emotionally manipulative gimmick, and as one friend pointed out, looking intently at every homeless person you pass is not a good rule for urban survival. A politically incorrect point, but a true one. The idea seems to be to shame ordinary people for going about their lives as if their failure to DO SOMETHING (unspecified) about all the homeless people they see is the cause of homelessness.
And, no, the analogy to the parable of the Good Samaritan is exceedingly poor. The Good Samaritan had reason to believe that he could give immediate, effective help and succor to the victim, or at least see that the body got decent burial (if the person were dead). Just stopping whatever you are doing and trying to do something-or-other to help the homeless is a far more complex proposition.
Then there's the small problem of familial betrayal to shaming and ridicule. Am I the only person who thinks that a wife who sets up her husband to be shamed as heartless for failing to recognize her in disguise is doing something despicable? Of course I would say the same about a husband who did that to his wife, but in this case it happened to be a wife doing it to a husband.
All of that is merely by way of introduction.
While debating the merits and demerits of this video on Facebook, I was struck with the thought that it would have made more sense for someone to make a documentary blaming liquor store owners for selling to people who are obviously homeless and feeding a harmful addiction. At least that would be addressed to one of the real causes of homelessness, which this video is not. And no, I am not saying that alcoholism and other substance abuses are the only causes of homelessness, merely that alcoholism is one significant contributing cause.
But then, after thinking about liquor store owners, it occurred to me that they probably can't discriminate and refuse to sell to the homeless because of public accommodations laws. True, there is no explicit mention of not discriminating on the basis of a state of homelessness in most public accommodations laws. (Though give it time and that will probably be included somewhere.) But any such discrimination would doubtless have "disparate impact" upon people according to other categories that are named--be it by race, marital status, sexual orientation, or some other sacred criterion.
I'm not going to go out on a limb and advocate a return to Prohibition--though for hard liquor, at least, a case can be made, given the havoc it causes. But at a minimum, it would be far more helpful to the poor and indigent if those who sell alcohol could rampantly discriminate on the basis of a gut instinct that this particular person is worse off buying and consuming this product. And compassionate--yes, truly compassionate--store managers could instruct their employees in how to recognize those to whom such a consideration applied.
This point leads to a consideration of how public accommodations and other non-discrimination laws have eroded our social capital by mechanizing the entire process of monetary exchange for goods and services--mechanizing the market, as it were. The market is composed of people associating, ideally associating freely rather than by force, with one another. This sort of free association in the market can indeed make room for a lot of bigotry and rudeness. But it also makes room for a lot of compassion and kindness. Price breaks can be given to those who need them, for example. And people who shouldn't be consuming a particular product can be refused it even as others are permitted to buy it. A humanized system of buying and selling has many faults but also allows far more room for many virtues than a system in which the seller is merely a robotic mechanism, a kind of slot machine, for giving out a product in return for a preset amount of money, no questions asked.
Meanwhile, in the system we actually live in, it would probably be unfair to make a video trying to blame and shame liquor store owners who sell to homeless addicts. If we would recognize that selling everything to everybody if they can scrounge up the money is not really fair and compassionate, that could be changed. And that would be an interesting approach to helping the homeless.