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Social Obscenity

August 14, 1988

The Times was guilty of an inadvertent, or purposeful, obscenity on the front page of its local news section Aug. 2. A large portion of the page was taken up by a photograph of Bruce Pratt, a homeless veteran, protesting the plight of the 5,000 to 10,000 homeless individuals and families "residing" in San Diego's downtown area. Only a column away, an article headlined "Project May Put Downtown Into the Swank of Things" appeared, describing the strong interest of fashion giants such as Cartier, Gucci and Ferragamo--stores that "usually try to get the best shopping streets in a city"--in a downtown location.

The layout reflects a certain harsh truth. I have always believed that social reality flows from human ideals and people's efforts to make those ideals come true. Is the combination of Gucci shoppers and homeless families what San Diegans really want or is it a temporary lapse in the sensibilities of our claim to be the nation's finest city?

Or perhaps it is the result of those who think that the trickle-down theory can still operate in providing shelter for the homeless through the selling of gold watches to the moneyed?

SHIMON CAMIEL

San Diego

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