Holder announcement may
signal end to ‘war on drugs’
David Simon, creator of HBO series “The Wire,” has been one of the most outspoken advocates for drug law changes in recent times. Click image to enlarge.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER’S major announcement this morning in a speech to the American Bar Association about U.S. drug policy is hugely significant.
It addresses an issue vastly underreported by U.S. media over four decades since President Richard Nixon first began the so-called “war on drugs” in the 1970s.
Reporting this morning in The New York Times, Charlie Savage calls it “a major shift in criminal justice policy.”
WATCH A GRIM VIDEO ON EFFECTS OF THE ‘WAR ON DRUGS’ BELOW THE FOLD.
“… [T]he Obama administration will move on Monday to ease overcrowding in federal prisons by ordering prosecutors to omit listing quantities of illegal substances in indictments for low-level drug cases, sidestepping federal laws that impose strict mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related offenses,” Savage reported.
It is, indeed, a “major shift” but the bigger picture seems to have been lost in the details.
The HBO web site devoted to “The Wire,” the series created by David Simon. Click image to enlarge.
The most enlightening examination of the abysmal failure of American drug policy came not through traditional media outlets, but the five-year long original series “The Wire,” created by former Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon.
On HBO’s web site devoted to the show, the media’s myopia on the issue is explained as follows:
“The fifth and final season of The Wire centers on the media’s role in addressing – or failing to address – the fundamental political, economic and social realities depicted over the course of the series, while also resolving storylines of the numerous characters woven throughout the narrative arc of the show.”
Creator Simon draws upon his real life experience as the police reporter for the Sun to paint a grim picture of life in the inner cities of America.
Young children, mostly black youths, are “trained” in hopelessly inadequate schools not to acquire the skills to advance in life, but how the system is rigged to keep them in perpetual poverty.
They “learn” that there are few choices for them other than “employment” in the drug trafficking business. The lessons are inadvertent, but as expressed by the characters Simon created, they are inevitable.
The respected web site IMDB has the following synopsis:
“[The] Baltimore drug scene, seen through the eyes of drug dealers, and law enforcement.”
In its bio of the show’s creator, it explains: “A Former Baltimore Sun crime reporter, David Simon is the author of the book, “The Corner,” and is also the creator of the Baltimore-based show, “The Wire” [2002-2008].
“Simon’s book, “A Year on the Killing Streets,” is what the show was based upon.”
Simon was known for his in-depth reporting on the drug trade in Baltimore in the 1980s and early 90s. Simon forged relationships with police and drug dealers and local residents whom he used as sources for his crime reporting and later, as references for the many true-life stories seen on “The Wire.”
The prominent story on Simon’s appearance in the U.K. was featured May 26 in The Observer. Click image to enlarge.
On the HBO site, it elaborates on why the fifth season was devoted to the topic of the media’s silence on the issue.
Simon is quoted as saying:
“It made sense to finish The Wire with this reflection on the state of the media, as all the other attendant problems of the American city depicted in the previous four seasons will not be solved until the depth and range of those problems is first acknowledged. And that won’t happen without an intelligent, aggressive and well-funded press.”
In the five years since the series ended, Simon has been on a somewhat lonely crusade to have U.S. drug policy reviewed.
As recently as May this year he was invited to appear on a panel discussion presented by The Observer newspaper (the weekend edition of The Guardian, the leading daily in the United Kingdom) and chaired by its editor John Mulholland.
I was in London the day the story about his appearance appeared on Page 3 of The Guardian and blogged about it on May. 26 in Noted TV producer blasts ‘war on drugs’
Why this topic has drawn so little coverage in U.S. media remains a mystery.
Perhaps because the victims of this disastrous and corrupt “war” are almost invisible, under-privileged inner-city youth, whereas the media is part of the elite and therefore far removed from the life on the streets to which so many are condemned.
Seen in this context, Holder’s announcement this morning could herald a sea change in both the government’s attitude about drugs (how about calling off the battles against medical marijuana, for a start?) and the media’s coverage of the issue.
Let us hope it is far more than merely a one-day story.
Watch the trailer for “The Wire” here. It has been viewed more than 387,000 times.
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