"The beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart."
--Mary Shelley's Victor Frankenstein
Accomplishing a logic-defying feat, the wealthiest nation in the world has "attained" the highest rate of homelessness amongst developed countries. 3.5 million human beings experience homelessness each year in the United States. Almost a million are homeless every night (1).
Ready for some "shock and awe" on the home front? According to the National Mental Health Association, "on any given night, 1.2 million children are homeless" in the United States.
And what is one to make of a self-proclaimed Christian nation (overflowing with material resources) that allows such travesties of economic justice to persist?
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'"
Yes, it is morally and ethically abhorrent that there are indigent, starving, and homeless human beings in a society of people awash in a sea of wealth.
Yet it gets even uglier...
According to Sixty Minutes, the latest extreme means for teens to alleviate adolescent ennui involves savagely beating the most vulnerable human beings in the United States.
This so-called "bum hunting" has resulted in the murder of at least one homeless person per month for the past 60 consecutive months. Accurate statistics are elusive at best (since few people notice when a homeless person "disappears"). However, the National Coalition for the Homeless determined that 500 of its lost souls have been victims of "bum hunting" since 1999. 180 of them met violent deaths as a result of this appalling blood sport in which the hunters stalk human prey (3).
What could inspire children to commit such depraved, barbarous acts?
Sixty Minutes suggested that a wildly popular DVD series called Bum Fights was the principal catalyst for "bum hunting". Apparently, the producers of Bum Fights paid homeless individuals a pittance (and bribed them with alcohol) to brawl and attempt ridiculous stunts similar to those shown in the Jackass series. Bum Fight movies also involve a character dubbed the "Bum Hunter". In producing Bum Fights, the "Bum Hunter" attacked randomly selected sleeping homeless people, forcibly restrained them, and sealed their mouths with duct tape.
23 year old Ryan McPherson was the producer of Bum Fights. He and two partners sold the rights to their creation for $1.5 million (4). Sixty Minutes interviewed two of their victims, including a homeless man named Rufus, who confirmed that McPherson paid them less than $10 and a "couple of beers" to fight and do degrading stunts.