So, amid the billowing torrents of masturbatory gush flowing from every pore of the media re: the new/final season of the greatest television show on Earth, ever, we were reminded of this 2004 Reason interview with David Simon, which includes some very telling and honest discussion about the realities of America’s drug war. Dig:
Reason: What’s the show’s underlying message about the drug war?
Simon: That it’s a fraud. It’s all over except for the tragedy and the shouting and the wasted lives. That’ll continue. But the outcome has never been in doubt.
Reason: I’ve seen one writer citing The Corner to make the case that the drug war needs to be fought harder.
Simon: What idiot was that?
Reason: His name was Eli Lehrer. [Lehrer said the book “vividly describes just how bad life became in a typical inner-city neighborhood” after Baltimore’s then-Mayor Kurt Schmoke came out for a less punitive approach to the drug war. In fact, Schmoke’s police department locked up more people for drug crimes than any previous administration.] He was writing in the American Enterprise Institute’s magazine.
Simon: Ed Burns and I spoke at one of those groups. There came this point where a guy said, “Well, what is the solution? Give me the paragraph; give me the lede. What’s the solution, if not drug prohibition?”
I very painstakingly said: “Look. For 35 years, you’ve systematically deindustrialized these cities. You’ve rendered them inhospitable to the working class, economically. You have marginalized a certain percentage of your population, most of them minority, and placed them in a situation where the only viable economic engine in their hypersegregated neighborhoods is the drug trade. Then you’ve alienated them further by fighting this draconian war in their neighborhoods, and not being able to distinguish between friend or foe and between that which is truly dangerous or that which is just illegal. And you want to sit across the table from me and say ‘What’s the solution?’ and get it in a paragraph? The solution is to undo the last 35 years, brick by brick. How long is that going to take? I don’t know, but until you start it’s only going to get worse.”
And the guy looked at me and went, “But what’s the solution?” He said it again. Ed Burns restrained me.
Did I mention that The Wire is the greatest television show ever to air on this planet? And that David Simon fights for freedom, professionally?
Here’s some info on the New Orleans music program Simon’s hoping to do next.
And here’s a NSFW scene from The Wire (with a laugh track inserted for no justifiable reason whatsoever).