'The Wire' Creator David Simon on Drug War, Lack of Options for 'The Other America'
David Simon did America a service when he created the HBO series The Wire; based on his experiences as a journalist at the BaltimoreSun, he showed how a drug war waged on impoverished and marginalized communities was destroying our country. (It was also one of the greatest television shows in American history.) Yesterday, one of the star actors in the series, Felicia 'Snoop' Pearson, was arrested in a series of Baltimore city drug raids. The Sun reports that 63 suspects were charged in what was suspected to be a major drug operation, but that Pearson's involvement was said to be 'relatively small.' The story underscores not just how realistic the show was, but how dismal the drug situation in Baltimore -- fueled by poverty -- remains.
Yesterday, Simon gave a statement to Slateabout Pearson's arrest and, after reiterating that she is innocent until proven guilty, he displayed his typical cogency about the drug war:
In an essay published two years ago in Time magazine, the writers of The Wire made the argument that we believe the war on drugs has devolved into a war on the underclass, that in places like West and East Baltimore, where the drug economy is now the only factory still hiring and where the educational system is so crippled that the vast majority of children are trained only for the corners, a legal campaign to imprison our most vulnerable and damaged citizens is little more than amoral. And we said then that if asked to serve on any jury considering a non-violent drug offense, we would move to nullify that jury's verdict and vote to acquit. Regardless of the defendant, I still believe such a course of action would be just in any case in which drug offenses absent proof of violent acts are alleged.
He also noted that Pearson's acting career has for the most part tapered off since The Wire concluded. 'She worked hard as an actor and was entirely professional, but the entertainment industry as a whole does not offer a great many roles for those who can portray people from the other America. There are, in fact, relatively few stories told about the other America.'
Read the full statement here.