Toronto Star

Video of homeless man unethical


Re How homeless man spends $100 is your morning cry, Dec. 24 I find this video problemati­c on several levels. First, the act of secretly following anyone with a video camera is ethically problemati­c. Giving that person money and then secretly following him to see how he spent the money is more problemati­c. And judging whether the person spent that money in a “good” way, then deciding whether or not to reward the person with more money based on how they spent it, is problemati­c yet again.

Surveillin­g and entrapping anyone is unethical, especially when it is a vulnerable member of society. Had the subject been a teenage girl, most people would plainly see why it was unethical and creepy to stalk her with a camera. For news outlets to then legitimize such behaviour by broadcasti­ng the video is both disappoint­ing and disturbing. The fact that it’s an adult man, or a homeless person, shouldn’t change that.

Second, the video is made by people of privilege whose premise was: “We expect the homeless person to spend the money in a way that we deem to be negative, but, surprise, he spent it in a way we deem positive. Wow, homeless people are like the rest of us!”

This way of thinking is offensive. What if this man were a heroin addict who would have spent the money on drugs to feed his addiction? Would the producers (and viewers) of the video judge him as a “bad” person and/or not deserving of more money or assistance?

Finally, this video was made by a person who regularly makes prank videos for his YouTube account. He directly benefits from advertisin­g revenue sharing with YouTube. It’s possible this was a blatant attempt to create a viral video for the sake of self-promotion.

This person, Josh Paler Lin, has succeeded because news organizati­ons around the world ran this story and he has been interviewe­d on TV about it.

If someone really wants to help the homeless, they donate or volunteer with no strings attached, they don’t go around judging and rewarding homeless people depending on how they spend money. Rob Brownridge, Vancouver


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada