Monday, December 06, 2004

Demented Who?

Matthew Yglesias - who is clearly more edumakated, more of an insider, more wonkish, and of much better stock than I - had a post on Friday afternoon which talks about drug policy and The Wire. Since RUFNKM is a blog from The Greatest City In America, we get tickled pink when people ruminate on high quality TV shows set here. For what it's worth, we don't have cable, so we've only seen the first season (which, typical of David Simon, is brilliant). The point of this post isn't to further laud David Simon, however. Nor is it to attempt to out-wonk Ygesias, which for us would be impossible. No, we'd just like to respond to this particular bit:

As a result of the Episode One commentary by David Simon it now seems clear that the show's creator has what I consider the outlook of slightly demented leftwingers on the topic of the "war on drugs."

Yeah, the "demented leftwingers" thing really rankles, prompting the usual question. ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?

If David Simon's career is any indication, his opinion on the drug war is not the product of blind libertarian ideology or endless stoned yet angry nights spent ranting round the hookah. The guy spent years following the open air drug trade in Baltimore. He and Ed Burns did it up close and personal, which lead to The Corner, a rather harrowing account. Anyone who has lived on or near "the corner" of any major city(my personal experience was the Sixth Street Corridor in San Francisco) doesn't need to read it - they experienced it first hand. Furthermore, they might end up being lead to similar conclusions as Simon - the drug trade is indeed degrading and horrific, but waging a "war" on it might not be the most effective way to get rid of it. In other words, this is a very good instance of a "reality based" conclusion. The fact that many Baltimoreans I know won't watch The Wire because it is "too real, too raw, too right on" seems to me to support this. The same was true of The Corner mini-series, incidentally, and it wasn't Baltimoreans then. I had plenty of friends in SF who asked "Why the hell would I watch that when I can look out my front window and see it?" when asked if they'd seen or read The Corner. Anecdotal, I know, but still a more accurate view than from behind a keyboard.

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