Friday, September 9, 2016

When Will the Dam Break?

A day later, Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who's been a cop in this city for 27 years — long enough to qualify for advanced degrees in sociology, psychology and economics — provided a pertinent footnote to the Labor Day weekend violence. "Impoverished neighborhoods, people without hope do these kinds of things," he said. "You show me a man that doesn't have hope, I'll show you one that's willing to pick up a gun and do anything with it."
Maybe that's more than a footnote. It might be a chapter, or the thesis. There can't be a simple explanation for why people shoot at each other, destroying themselves and their neighborhoods, can there? No, but gangs — these days, often with weak or no leadership — are at the heart of the violence.
Gang structure has atomized, creating block-by-block turf battles. Gangbangers shoot at each other over drug sales or factional rivalries, over petty insults on social media or over a pair of shoes. They fight and shoot perhaps because they don't care, or perhaps because fighting and shooting gives them something to care about. The shootings beget retaliatory shootings. Illegal guns are easy to find. So are targets.
You see, it's not the drug war that created all this violence, it is guns.  
If you want to do an insightful, heart felt, moving and depressing article about violence and oppressed minorities and people without hope, you can't mention inconvenient facts like:
-the government oppression of those who want to get high
-fiscal empowerment of those who sell drugs in violation of the law
These all too pertinent facts cannot be mentioned because for an inexplicable reason, we still cling to the idea that government control of drugs is protecting us.  It's not protecting us any more than alcohol prohibition protected us.  Prohibition doesn't make drugs less available, nor did it make alcohol less available.  For those caught up in these turf wars over who gets to sell to whom - from inner cities to small towns in Maine to the nation of Mexico - the drug war is dehumanizing them and killing them.

Thankfully, the evidence is clear and it's only a matter of time until people can speak in public and be frank about the stupidity, the criminality and the barbarity of drug prohibition.

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