Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Homeless man taken off life support


A 53-year-old homeless man who was severely beaten in the early morning hours on May 31 died yesterday in Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital after being taken off life support. Sheriff’s Detectives are now considering the case a homicide.
Sgt. Alex Tipolt said the badly beaten body of Gregory Ghan, 53, was discovered in front of the Isla Vista Neighborhood Clinic.

Tipolt said Ghan was a known transient who frequented Isla Vista and had recently been staying there for prolonged periods of time. An autopsy will be completed later this week, at which time the exact cause of death will be released, he said.
Tipolt said anyone with information about the assault should contact the Criminal Investigations Division’s anonymous tip line at 681-4162.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm sure no one has ever told you how offensive the term "transient" is when used to describe a homeless person, but it ranks right on up there with several other derogatory terms I won't soil my fingers by typing them out.

I'm sure you can guess what those words are.

No doubt you thought the alliteration of "trampled transient" seemed cute and clever when you submitted the write-up on Mr. Ghan's attack, but it's neither cute nor clever.

Words are powerful things, and can be tools for change, both good and bad. Using words to devalue human beings, whether knowingly or not, is a terrible breach of trust. Journalists have a lot of power, and by the continual and repeated use of dehumanizing terms like "transient," this has made it easier for the public to distance itself from these unfortunate folks and thus, makes it easier to assault and even kill them.

Homeless people are human beings without traditional shelter. For whatever reason, there they are. They are people, not "transients."

I've also found it curious how a person can be a well-known, local transient. Either you're local or you're from out of town; you can't be a well-known local out of town person.
Also, a homeless resident is a homeless resident. If it gags some sick Santa Barbara sense of entitlement for people to accurately describe these folks as homeless residents, then homeless Santa Barbaran will do nicely.

These people aren't "transient," they are human, and they ARE ours, like it or not. As the economy worsens and the divide between the very rich and the continually struggling widens, there will be much more of these folks surfacing. It will be harder to pigeonhole, ignore and pretend Santa Barbara's homeless population is "transient" and eventually the media and public will be forced to see the truth of the matter.

Meanwhile, I hope that members of the media would see the direct connection between their insistence on describing homeless people as "transients" and the increasing assaults on homeless people.

Throughout history, the first step towards any genocide is getting the public to believe that the intended target is somehow not worthy of regard as a living being.

The chickens are coning home to roost now; more and more homeless people are being attacked by people who have been convinced that they aren't human, aren't citizens of our communities, and should be exterminated like vermin.

However you may personally feel about homeless people, you need to be more objective in your reporting if you are to be a truly objective and ethical journalist.