Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Day 27 (Round II) "In the trenches" (breathing-space edition)

As in, 72 hours of breathing-space, anyway: medieval band concert dropped Saturday night,* Sunday night was first practical/hands-on rehearsal of Celtic Ensemble's Welsh "hard" repertoire, last night was "First Monday" Irish ceili dance, and I don't have to go out of town 'til Thursday.

Best part? It's now October, and I no longer have to give up 8 hours once a week to a grand jury. Learned a lot, but mostly about my grand jury colleagues, rather than the local level/incidence of crime--for a city of 202,000, this is a relatively/remarkably safe place to live. Takeaway points?

(1) Prohibition doesn't work, except to enrich (a) anybody who owns stock in a legal alternative (both booze and pharmaceutical industries come to mind--I don't see Cindy McCain going to jail, do you?) and (b) anybody who sees drugs as an entry-level entrepreneurial opportunity--viz The Wire's brutal evisceration of Republican "Just Say No/Three Strikes and You're Out" jurisprudence. You want to end the cheap, dangerous, bathtub drugs like crack and meth? Make cheap alternatives like methadone legal, require prescriptions, tax the fuck out of them, and invest in drug-treatment instead of incarceration. Both your crime syndicate activity (from suppliers) and your property crime (from users) will plummet.

(2) Enforce restrictions upon alcohol sale, use, and abuse much more stringently. Any kid busted for underage drinking should lose their license for a year--let 'em ride the bus or their fucking bicycles, and they should be on probation that whole time. Three quarters of the violence we saw was in either domestic or barroom contexts. Of course, that would mean that when Tyler or Melanie gets busted for DWI in their Grand Cherokee or GMC Titan, they should fucking go to jail for booking, and then should be assessed around 5 grand in fines--hit Mommy and Daddy in the pocketbook--and take their fucking cars away.

(3) Domestic violence needs mediation. That means that any time a family member is assaulted by another, the assailant needs to go to jail, regardless of whether the victim wishes to pursue charges--or even more, if they don't want to--and the victim needs mandatory counseling regarding alternatives, and needs the financial assistance to take those alternatives.

(4) Traditional electronic and print media reporting about local crime is almost always false in its impact if not its intent. Most crime in this city is not violent: it is petty property crime driven by addiction. TV and the (abysmal) local rag invert this, only ever reporting crime on the infrequent occasions when it is violent.

(5) Gun violence is almost always domestic. Trigger locks, background checks, and waiting periods should be mandatory, any loopholes should be closed, and any gun dealer (or private individual) or subverts them should go to jail.

(6) After-school programs, child protective services, and education/prevention initiatives should be funded to the max. We need a shift in public perception regarding punishment versus prevention/education comparable to the shift that Mothers Against Drunk Driving managed vis-a-vis driving while impaired. Until local and federal government commit the resources to prevention/education that they currently dedicate to incarceration/punishment, these cycles of abuse, violence, and crime will continue. Which I am cynical enough to believe Republican government prefers, because it keeps the electorate scared, passive, and amenable to whatever fascist posse comitatus bullshit they decide they want to pull.


Good Citizens have no idea why/where crime happens, or how many of their Good Neighbors participate in it, or how much it's driven by economic factors (of course poor folks commit more crimes--they don't have any fucking money): rich folks' vices are usually not treated as felonies, and on the infrequent occasions when they are, the rich folks have the money to lawyer-up and get out of serving penalties. Poor people are intentionally prevented from having the same legal options.

We need a new goddamned vision in this country.

* I'll have more to say on this in a future post, but let's just say there that thank God, we didn't suck wind in front of Dharmonia's and my colleagues--18 years of playing together, even if it's now much more infrequent, and we still have that telepathy; rusty, and some noise on the channel, but it's still there. Afterwards, at our traditional post-concert booze-and-talk session (that's what medieval musicians do after the show: they get drunk and talk philosophy), I made what's become my own traditional toast, to the man who was our Great Teacher.

Thank you, Tom.

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