The war on drugs is about the disposal of excess Americans; "a holocaust in slow motion" says Wire creator David Simon


The Wire creator David Simon eviscerates the dystopia creating war on drugs

David Simon surged into the American mainstream with a bleak vision of the devastation wrought by drugs on his home town of Baltimore – The Wire, hailed by many as the greatest television drama of all time. But what keeps him there is his apocalyptic and unrelenting heresy over the failed “war on drugs”, the multibillion-dollar worldwide crusade launched by President Richard Nixon in 1971.

When Simon brought that heresy to London last week – to take part in a debate hosted by the Observer – he was inevitably asked about what reformers celebrate as recent “successes” – votes in Colorado and Washington to legalise marijuana.

“I’m against it,” Simon told his stunned audience at the Royal Institution on Thursday night. “The last thing I want to do is rationalise the easiest, the most benign end of this. The whole concept needs to be changed, the debate reframed.

“I want the thing to fall as one complete edifice. If they manage to let a few white middle-class people off the hook, that’s very dangerous. If they can find a way for white kids in middle-class suburbia to get high without them going to jail,” he continued, “and getting them to think that what they do is a million miles away from black kids taking crack, that is what politicians would do.”

If marijuana were exempted from the war on drugs, he insisted, “it’d be another 10 or 40 years of assigning people of colour to this dystopia.”

Simon joined two film directors for a discussion onstage: Eugene Jarecki, in whose movie The House I Live In – on the toll of America’s war on drugs – he features prominently, and Rachel Seifert, whose Cocaine Unwrapped charts the drug’s progress from blighted “producer” countries to the addicts in Europe and the US.

The occasion was staged by the Observer and chaired by its editor, John Mulholland, as part of its campaign to address the global drugs crisis.

Simon took no prisoners. In his vision, the war on – and the curse of – drugs are inseparable from what he called, in his book, The Death of Working Class America, the de-industrialisation and ravaging of cities that were once the engine-rooms and, in Baltimore’s case, the seaboard of an industrial superpower.

The war is about the disposal of what Simon called, in his most unforgiving but cogent term, “excess Americans”: once a labour force, but no longer of use to capitalism. He went so far as to call the war on drugs “a holocaust in slow motion”.

Simon said he “begins with the assumption that drugs are bad”, but also that the war on drugs has “always proceeded along racial lines”, since the banning of opium.

It is waged “not against dangerous substances but against the poor, the excess Americans,” he said, and with striking and subversive originality, posited the crisis in stark economic terms: “We do not need 10-12% of our population; they’ve been abandoned. They don’t have barbed wire around them, but they might as well.”

As a result, “drugs are the only industry left in places such as Baltimore and east St Louis” – an industry that employs “children, old people, people who’ve been shooting drugs for 20 years, it doesn’t matter. It’s the only factory that’s still open. The doors are open.”

While his co-panellists sipped their water, Simon poured himself another glass of red wine as he continued. A bull of a man, a presence in any room – even one as large as the packed theatre in the colonnaded heart of Britain’s scientific establishment.

“Capitalism,” Simon said, “has tried to jail its way out of the problem” with the result that “the prison industry has been given over to capitalism. If we need to get rid of these people, we might as well make some money out of getting rid of them.”

Jarecki, in a scathing portrayal of the American prison system in both his film and at Thursday’s event, cited some statistics: “We have ravaged our poor communities,” he said, some of which, African-American, counted “4,000 per 100,000 in jail, as compared with an average dose of around 300″. Meanwhile, Simon said the police in some cities had “become an army of occupation that sends brothers and fathers to jail”.

He described a logic to policing in Baltimore whereby “street-rips” in drug-infested areas make for easy arrests to achieve “cost-efficient” policing, while criminal activity other than drugs was ignored because prosecutions were laborious.

Simon said he had seen a decrease in arrests for non-drug offences from 70-90% to 20-40%, while drug-related arrests increased on some beats from 5,000 to 30,000 because, as Jarecki put it, “it’s like shooting fish in a barrel”.

“So the drug war,” concluded Simon, “makes the city unsafe.” But has it worked? “The drugs in my city are more powerful, cheaper and more available than ever before,” replied Simon.

continued: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/05/25/the-wire-creator-david-simon-eviscerates-the-war-on-drugs/

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Comments

Hmm...interesting. I see where he's coming from. I wonder if there is any other way about this though...it seems like change in racism in cultural patterns is slow to come.
 
I think its obvious that weed is less harmful than crack. However the point he makes about letting urban white kids off the hook while inner city black kids continue to go to jail for drugs is also a very good point.

The implementation of the legal system is already racist enough, and legalizing marijuana (even though it is progress) while continuing to stigmatize drugs like crack may only exacerbate the race problem in the foreseeable future.

I know most everyone on this site (myself included, even though I dont do drugs anymore) is pro-marijuana legalization. However I still think this guy makes a good point about potential problems resulting from the changing public opinion of weed.
 
i agree too, great article! I don't see how people can be pro cannabis and not pro all drug legalization, same argument for both!
 
If marijuana were exempted from the war on drugs, he insisted, “it’d be another 10 or 40 years of assigning people of colour to this dystopia.”
I'll have to check the video, but I'm pretty sure he said "color" and not "colour".

That's my contribution to this discussion.
 
Although I believe in legalization for all substances, under rigorous criteria, I do feel that you can pro legalizing cannabis and not against legalizing other substances. At the same time, Simon makes a fair point that the term legalization is very problematic, if only from a rhetoric point of view. Decriminalization is what the discussion should be about, and cynic that I am, I am fairly confident that the prison industry does play a big role in this. What happens if you send 60% less people to jail? Less jobs overall for communities that depend on prisons for a large part... For those who didn't know yet: Obama recently made the penalties for crack cocaine - compared to cocaine HCl - only 19 times heavier, where penalties used to be 100x stricter. This is still utter bullshit of course, because it's poor black Americans who suffer the wrath.

Anyway, sorry for the rant, I think that David Simon says it like it is and that The Wire is indeed one of the best drama series I've ever seen. It's brilliant and everyone who's interested in the 'war on drugs' (whateverthefuckthatis) oughta see it. Rev out.
 
^uh fuck those prison workers? you want a flourishing prison industry over freedom of choice? jesus

Jobs will open up in other places, it's too bad those stupid fucks in LE are too dumb to get any of these new jobs but tough shit for them, the overly qualified people working shitty jobs now will have new opportunities.

Perhaps when police can focus on solving real crimes, the crime rate will go down and enough new offenders will take the place of non-violent drug users. It won't be the same but may be enough to keep it going, prisons will likely have to be shut down as seen in places in Europe, maybe they can turn them into hospitals instead.

decriminalization leads to a black market still, doesn't fix the problem and the LE people can just fine the shit out of you whenever they want. We don't want powerful cartels having global influence, as purity of drugs are always in question, there are no regulations, no safety nets and violence will always ensue due to fighting over turf.

What's the best argument for cannabis legalization? regulation, taking money from cartels/criminal organizations, ensuring age restrictions and reducing harm. You can apply that argument to every single drug. Decriminalization doesn't fix any of those issues, not even one! just give that a thought and you may change your opinion.
 
David Simon said:
“I’m against it,” Simon told his stunned audience at the Royal Institution on Thursday night. “The last thing I want to do is rationalise the easiest, the most benign end of this.
By "benign end of this", I'm assuming he's talking about all illegal drugs and doesn't include legal intoxicants. That's where his logic is faulty, because he doesn't understand that that the legality of drugs was determined by politicians with no professional health care expertise, and that just because a drug is included on the list doesn't mean it has the same ability to utterly destroy public health in a community. The only way marijuana can be reasonably linked to, say, heroin or meth, is because they do sometimes cross paths in the illegal drug trade, which means that buying marijuana may expose you to hard drug dealers that you otherwise would not have met. It also means, unfortunately, that some of the money in the weed trade ends up in some pretty brutal hands. But if you legalize weed, a drug which is increasingly accepted by society anyway (and thus will inevitably be smoked in increasing numbers), you cut off its connection to illicit drug trade, and therefore other illegal drugs.
 
RobotRipping;11588404 said:
I don't see how people can be pro cannabis and not pro all drug legalization, same argument for both!
That is exactly the problem, marijuana legalization separates all the "harmless suburban drug users" from the "hardcore inner city crackheads" in the national psyche.

The reality is that inner city people do not have a lot of political clout in the US. If, through marijuana legalization, the problems with the war on drugs seem to have been fixed for middle class white people who have most of the political power in the US, politicians will not feel the pressure to respond to the problems with drugs in the less influential demographics (like inner city black kids).
 
I think the Cannabis legalization in CO and WA is a step forward, but I see Simon's point that some people will try to twist it into an idea that the problem is "solved" and that we don't need to keep going.

I also think it's a mistake to label one drug as more harmful than another. Plenty of people use cocaine regularly without having their lives destroyed by it. What destroys lives is more the poverty and getting arrested.
 
RobotRipping;11589544 said:
^uh fuck those prison workers? you want a flourishing prison industry over freedom of choice? jesus
Jobs will open up in other places, it's too bad those stupid fucks in LE are too dumb to get any of these new jobs but tough shit for them, the overly qualified people working shitty jobs now will have new opportunities.
You misunderstood me, that was exactly what I wanted to say. But my point was that this is big political argument to not close down these prisons. We're on the same page here.

decriminalization leads to a black market still, doesn't fix the problem and the LE people can just fine the shit out of you whenever they want. We don't want powerful cartels having global influence, as purity of drugs are always in question, there are no regulations, no safety nets and violence will always ensue due to fighting over turf.
Once again, I completely agree.

What's the best argument for cannabis legalization? regulation, taking money from cartels/criminal organizations, ensuring age restrictions and reducing harm. You can apply that argument to every single drug. Decriminalization doesn't fix any of those issues, not even one! just give that a thought and you may change your opinion.
And again, I don't disagree. I am personally in favour of complete legalization of everything. I just think that politically, it's completely tenable to be in favour of legalizing cannabis and not be in favour of legalizing heroin, since even if you're just looking at health risks to the user, heroin is much riskier than e.g. cannabis. That's all.
 
RobotRipping;11589544 said:
^uh fuck those prison workers? you want a flourishing prison industry over freedom of choice? jesus

Jobs will open up in other places, it's too bad those stupid fucks in LE are too dumb to get any of these new jobs but tough shit for them, the overly qualified people working shitty jobs now will have new opportunities.

Perhaps when police can focus on solving real crimes, the crime rate will go down and enough new offenders will take the place of non-violent drug users. It won't be the same but may be enough to keep it going, prisons will likely have to be shut down as seen in places in Europe, maybe they can turn them into hospitals instead.

decriminalization leads to a black market still, doesn't fix the problem and the LE people can just fine the shit out of you whenever they want. We don't want powerful cartels having global influence, as purity of drugs are always in question, there are no regulations, no safety nets and violence will always ensue due to fighting over turf.

What's the best argument for cannabis legalization? regulation, taking money from cartels/criminal organizations, ensuring age restrictions and reducing harm. You can apply that argument to every single drug. Decriminalization doesn't fix any of those issues, not even one! just give that a thought and you may change your opinion.
I don't think you realize exactly how good "those dumb fucks in LE" really have it! The starting pay for police officers in many urban areas is 70k! Also, the best health insurance money can buy, a true guaranteed pension for life that's equals out to 75% of the the three highest paid year you worked and a union that basically makes you immune to getting fired unless you really do something outrageously stupid! 28 days paid vacation a year! Oh, and the best part of all, you only have to work 20 years to collect a pension for the rest of your life! You can get hired as a police officer at 21 and be all done 41, collecting 60k a year and health for the rest of your life...You can start a completely new career at that point and make that on top of your pension....

It's the same thing with prison guards, but they only start at 45-50k a year! These unions are like a incurable parasite! they demand more and more and more while the rest of the country suffers through the worst recession in decades, and they generate so many votes and have so much political power you can't reform them or get rid of them!

They are low-brow, meat-head scum for the most part! and they don't want the gravy train to ever stop! It's outrageous....No politician can openly criticize them or vote against them because the general public considers them heroes...Oh man, don't get me started!
 
@Care: completely agree, if we legalize cannabis then the drug war will continue and those most affected by the drug war will suffer more (ie. inner city kids, people in Mexico, less fortunate people in general). However it will save those high class old money douche bags i used to hang out with from getting in trouble. The type of kids who are like, 'i only do natural drugs mannn, cause that chemical shit will fry your brain' What i would do to those pieces of shit in a revolution is a constant fantasy of mine. lol
That really is what David Simon is trying to get across and it's a great point that i didn't even think of.

@Reverand Random: yes i misunderstood you lol it is untenable for politicians to legalize drugs, that would put them, LE, prison industries out of work and they all work together. However the forces that work for drugs, big pharma, tobacco and alcohol, may have more power than them, which could turn the tide and create a power shift, which would be interesting and amazing to see if nothing else. The corporations supporting drug use would become the government, how fucked would that be, but for a drug addict, it's a dream come true!

BLueHues said:
I don't think you realize exactly how good "those dumb fucks in LE" really have it! The starting pay for police officers in many urban areas is 70k! Also, the best health insurance money can buy, a true guaranteed pension for life that's equals out to 75% of the the three highest paid year you worked and a union that basically makes you immune to getting fired unless you really do something outrageously stupid! 28 days paid vacation a year! Oh, and the best part of all, you only have to work 20 years to collect a pension for the rest of your life! You can get hired as a police officer at 21 and be all done 41, collecting 60k a year and health for the rest of your life...You can start a completely new career at that point and make that on top of your pension....

It's the same thing with prison guards, but they only start at 45-50k a year! These unions are like a incurable parasite! they demand more and more and more while the rest of the country suffers through the worst recession in decades, and they generate so many votes and have so much political power you can't reform them or get rid of them!

They are low-brow, meat-head scum for the most part! and they don't want the gravy train to ever stop! It's outrageous....No politician can openly criticize them or vote against them because the general public considers them heroes...Oh man, don't get me started!
are you sure they make that much??? seriously??? i work my ass off and am in so much student debt when i could have just become a shitty police officer? a high ranking one at that with my education? I'd love to see some actual figures on how much money police officers, lawyers, judges, DEA agents, FBI, prison industry people make on the war on drugs and compare it to how much big pharma, tobacco and alcohol make. Who has more power? I see them as competing forces ideologically. I'd like to see a boxing match between the two sides and i'd be betting and hoping big pharma/tobacco/alcohol took those mother fuckers down in the first round!

i can't believe those wages for LE and PO, that's far beyond the average for Americans isn't it? here the average income is like 67,000-77,000 for a family/year which is actually the highest in the province lol. Poor province though but still.

we need to get the big global conglomerates like big pharma/alcohol/tobacco on board, they make INSANE amounts of money, just look at the wiki pages for some big pharma companies and check their revenues! Why are they working with the current system when they could topple it over and take control, gaining more money and most importantly more power? Combine forces, legalize all drugs, and minimize government and release all non-violent offenders from prison, that isn't ideal but it's a a hell of a lot better than now! i'd fight for that. They could even pull it off in a subtle way so the sheep don't notice.
 
^The reason I know it's true is because I was a municipal DPW worker which even the lowest we got paid was around 40 k...So, I knew what the salaries for police and fire fighters were. the fire-fighters are even worse in some cases if they work in a place that never has fires! They all have union contracts with guaranteed raises and "Cost of living adjustments" built in...All the police and fire fighters makes over 60k, with overtime, there's regular un-ranked firefighters that make 80k a year just waiting for fires that never happen.

The prison guard unions are just as powerful and much bigger low-lifes than any other public safety profession....They lobby to keep the laws as harsh as possible, like literally send reps to the state legislature to make a case against softening any law that sends people to prison...

There's different rates of pay from state to state and town to town, but even in the poorest rural areas of the US, the police still must be making at least in high 50s, in the big cities some of them start in the 80s, for real!
 
wow that's nuts, bus drivers here make over 50k because they are unionized and it's bullshit! no post secondary education needed! Though being a bus driver sucks, they are well compensated.

I like the idea of a union but to people not unionized it sure makes things seem unfair. I wonder if people knew how much police and all of law enforcement were being paid if they would reconsider their stance on the war on drugs. It's all set up as a big money making scheme but most people don't realize it, if they did, i think the war on drugs would be over.
 
This makes a lot of sense. The system doesn't want to get rid of crime. They just want to get rid of "excess americans" which they've given up on while making money. The dumbed down society is convenient for this to occur. It's the school system that's flawed(conveniently). The hurtful drugs ruin the impoverished parts of society. All of which the helpful drugs go largely unnoticed. An intelligent society that makes decisions about what substances are legalized and what substances remain illegal while educating themselves about what a particular substance really does would challenge the political status quo. Alcohol is legal, yet it's more harmful than cannabis, MDxx (ecstacy), LSD, and 2C-x chemicals combined. Alcohol has proved more harmful than MDMA! The classification system is not based on science. To be continued.
 
WELL DONE THAT MAN.

Seriously it is the age of information, the "war on drugs" will end soon, when people realize the government are the biggest drug dealers, and the only reason crack and coke and heroin are so prevalent in their cities and hometowns is because it goes through CIA, MI6 etc.

Population control, turning people into slaves, turning dissidents into convicts and either out of the way or possibly also a slave. It's big business. I might have to watch this programme.

Cheers for the OP.
 
things have always kind of been like this, it seems like it's more human nature than anything else. You can compare our contemporary societies with many ancient or societies from hundreds of years ago and you see the same thing. The big powerful empires are corrupt as fuck, treat their citizens like shit, propaganda is everywhere and the people on top systemically keep themselves there through laws/racism/sexism/whateverism.

i really wonder if the people at the top are that smart and organized to actually set this system up or if it's just what is natural. The war on drugs is like an extension of racism in many ways, instead of enslaving african americans, now the US just imprisons them and use prison labor to make money.

So many societies were built on slavery, is it because people truly thought they were superior to others or because they knew if they thought this and convinced others that they were superior then they could enslave the 'inferior' people and live life much easier? One requires quite a bit of intelligence and the other is just completely ignorant, so which one is it today?
 
If you watch that show "Cops" you would think every drug user and seller in America was a Black or Mexican. No one can say with a straight face the drug war is not enforced along racial lines. Now joe suburbanite can buy his pot at the store and no longer cares about inner city or Mexican carnage. He can forget the drug war exists, well until his daughter becomes a crack whore I guess. Those problems on the other side of town tend tend to creep over. If the mexican drug war seeps over to the USA, people might have a change of heart too.
 
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