Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Imagine Hamsterdam

2013 is nine days old, and already 13 people have been murdered in Chicago.    Here's a list of the names of the dead who most often remain nameless.  12 of the dead were black.  12 were male. 7 were under 30.

I feel pretty safe in the Chicago where I live, where I work.  I'm gun violence-adjacent, but I don't live in one of *those* neighborhoods.  And even when I did live in one of *those* neighborhoods, I wasn't one of *those* people.  You know... the gang people, the people who live in that other America.  This kind of gun violence has never been my problem.  It's always been *theirs.*

The heartless, possibly brainless NRA types love to tell us that these young, black men died of gunshot wounds from illegal guns. So, you know... whaddya gonna do?  It seems that in the fictional universe these NRA assholes have created, guns spring whole into existence, forged by God out of Adam's boner.  In the real world, guns are legally manufactured and legally distributed and, at some point,  legally purchased.  It's just so stupid to throw your hands up in defeat over what happens in between that and the dead 15 year old in Englewood. Jesus, it's such a stupid argument! I'm hard-pressed to understand how anyone with sense enough to tie their own shoes and get across the street alive would ever pose it.  And yet a good chunk of our national gun control philosophy seems to be based exactly on that manipulated "whaddya gonna do" bullshit.  Maybe tracking the guns will be part of the gun control action that the Obama administration is thankfully taking on.  I hope.

But guns are only a part of the problem, the toxic flotsam on the surface. At the core of the problem is an endless cycle of poverty, which begets an endless cycle of violence, which quite likely stems from one place: drugs.  Well, racism and drugs.  I think we're getting slowly better about the racism.  We remain mired in stupid about the drugs.  To be clear, I'm not talking about the junkies or the dealers, I'm talking about the goddamn, motherfucking, useless, senseless, endless War on Drugs.  The "war" that bears far more responsibility for the grotesque parade of dead young men than the drugs themselves do.

I ask you to imagine a world where drugs are legal - all of them.  I reject this pantywaist "legalize weed" nonsense.  Heroin, cocaine, crystal meth... all of it is legal and obtainable from government run pantries.  If you think that this world has more addicts than the one we live in  now, it might be time to go hang out with the "whaddya gonna do" crowd.  It's a tepid, facile morality that suffocates clarity.  I maintain that right now it is easier for a 12 year old kid in the projects to get his hands on crystal meth than it is for him to get some vodka.   I'll even scare the shit out of you by saying this is also quite likely true for the Freshman class at New Trier.

Now imagine the countless billions we spend on this useless, endless, goddamned pointless war on drugs... imagine that money spent on community outreach, afterschool programs and staffing inner city schools with counselors and social workers.  Imagine it spent on anti-drug campaigns and free rehabilitation centers.  This is a world with fewer addicts.  This is a world where a kid has place to turn to other than a gang.  This makes sense.  And, this COSTS less than the War on Drugs

Which we lost, by the way, before it even started.  What we're doing now is like dropping bombs on our own soldier's barracks and claiming that the high body count is the cost of victory.  It's time to fight the smart war.  And it's time to acknowledge that young black men matter, that they don't live in their own country, and that we are all in this together.