Signs of Assimilation?
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 94 21:10:45 PST
Subject: Signs of Assimilation?
[I knew our post-beatnik movement was done for when the media started defining
the "Hippy" and making the Haight a tourist trap (as it had done earlier with
"Beatnik" and Greenwich village). Shortly after that, almost all young people
were hippies and wore the clothes, attitudes, and behaviors prescribed by the
media. The counter-culture was declawed, trivialized, and assimilated. But
every once in a while something happens to let us know that there was some
effect, even if small: we have a President who may not have inhaled, but he
probably did exhale eventually: we have a Surgeon General who mentioned (if
only briefly) the L word while talking about drugs; and we have articles like
the following. -psl]
From: email@example.com (m.b.komor)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (The Renaissance Man)
I found this kinda interesting... thought you might too. Voice of reason?
Mike Royko wrote:
They're all over TV and the papers talking about crime:
the President of the United States, his aides, members of
Congress, lawyers, professors. They are promising this and that
and vowing to do such and such.
But I've noticed the absence of one group that might be
expected to have some opinion on crime and what, if anything, can
be done to reduce it.
Oh, once in a while you might get a high-ranking police
official, a chief of some big city department. But police brass
sound like the politicians, since they deal with budgets, manpower
charts and other administrative matters.
By cops, I mean the men and women who go out on the street
every day and try to solve crimes and arrest criminals.
In all the blather coming out of Washington about crime,
and what the big-spenders will do about it, the invisible man is
the street cop.
So the morning after President Clinton blew hot air at the
nation, I called a friend who has been a cop for many years. He's
worked on homicides, robberies, rapes, just about every form of
Because he aspires to higher rank, and clout still means
something in the Chicago Police Department, it wouldn't help his
career to be known as my friend. So his name can't be used.
But he's real. And when I asked him what his reaction was
to the current anti-crime frenzy in the White House and Congress,
he said: "It's a lot of bull----."
He elaborated. "There's nothing we haven't heard before.
Three strikes and you're out. We already send up three-time losers
in Illinois. Hasn't done anything to the crime rate. Build more
prisons. We can't build enough prisons to hold all the bad guys.
Tougher gun laws. Look, the only people the gun laws affect are
honest people. Frankly, I wish every decent family in America had
a gun and knew how to use it.
"Besides, federal crime laws don't mean a damn thing to
me because about 95 percent of the crimes in this country are
local, not federal. The feds aren't dealing with shootings in
saloons or guys going nuts and killing their wives and kids or the
neighbors. Most of their busts are white-collar. So federal laws
don't mean squat when it comes to everyday crime.
"Now, I'm in a minority, but a lot of cops agree with me
on this. And that's the drug laws. We're wasting our time trying
to control that crap. We're wasting billions of dollars and
throwing people in jail who are just self-destructive goofs.
"We'd be better off doing what we do with liquor and
cigarettes. Tax them and license the sale. Sure, people abuse
booze and they smoke. But smoking is way down because most people
know it's bad for them. The same thing with booze. More white wine
and light beer and fewer boilermakers.
"It's the same thing with drugs. Right now, most people
don't use drugs. If you legalize it, most people still won't use
"But you take away the illegal profit motive, there go
the drug peddlers, the gangs and the other serious crime. And most
of the police and political corruption.
"Then you wouldn't have thousands of cops wasting their
time trying to bust some small-time dealer. You wouldn't have them
clogging up the courts and filling up cells that somebody
dangerous should be in.
"But you don't hear the politicians say that because
they're afraid of the people who say: 'I don't want my kids buying
drugs.' Hey, lady, if your kid wants to buy drugs right now, he
can do it. And maybe he already is.
"Look back 20 years. Anybody who said we ought to
legalize gambling in Illinois was treated like a nut. The Mafia
will take it over. Where there's a casino there will be murder and
prostitution, and families are going to fall apart because the old
man is blowing his paycheck at the blackjack table.
"Now we got gambling boats all over Illinois. We're going
to have them in Chicago and the suburbs. And it's no big deal. The
sky isn't falling.
"Same thing with drugs. What, somebody is going to smoke
some marijuana at home, listen to music, then go out and shoot
everybody he sees? No, he's going to fall asleep and get up the
next morning with less of a hangover than if he drank three
"Now, if you legalize the stuff, and tax it, you save
billions of dollars that we're wasting now, and you bring in a lot
of extra money from the taxes.
"Then you take that money and use some of it for
rehabbing the junkies.
"But you also find ways to invest it in places like the
West Side, in public works projects or to help start private
businesses that will create jobs. Because that's where it all
started, the craziness and the higher crime rate. When the low-
skill jobs disappeared, the husbands were out of work and they
disappeared. And that's why we have all these one-parent or no-
parent families that turn out the street criminals.
"Hey, but what do I know? I only go out there and arrest
them, fill out the paperwork and go to court.
"It's not like I'm some expert in Washington and get on
(C) 1994 BY THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE
DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
© 1994 Peter Langston