Election time posturing on crime

A couple of high-profile shootings in the GTA, a ‘massive’ police raid, promises of more money to fight crime. Must be an election coming…

Another big raid was launched across Toronto this morning, dozens of people rounded up so the police and the government can look like they’re ‘doing something’. This time it was ‘crips’, supposedly. Guess the 80s are back*. Last month the big raid was on the Hell’s Angels.

At this rate, I’m sure that the legal drug supply in Toronto will dry up completely or get prohibitively expensive (snark!) Never mind for now the serious violation of civil liberties that has most likely taken place. The police tend to loudly announce the number they’ve arrested, but not the numbers that they let go a few hours or days later.

And then there’s the guns. Yeah, it’s the fault of the US. Let’s bring in more laws to prohibit something that is, yes, already illegal. That’ll learn ’em! Now, as much as I hate to side with the gun nuts (I’m actually pretty anti-gun), there’s not much more the police or the government can do. Guns don’t kill people, they just make it a lot easier for narcissistic thugs to get high on a power trip. The problem in Canada is that ‘gun’ is the same sort of trigger word in political campaigns and posturing here as ‘gay marriage’ or ‘illegal immigrant’ is south of the border. I happen to think that inaction is superior to a pretense of action, but that’s just me.

To be fair, there were protests all last week for the government or ‘society’ to ‘DO SOMETHING!!’ So police and politicians reacted the way they know how. A big raid and more laws. Exactly what ‘society’ is supposed to do to prevent ‘individuals’ from doing much of anything is a mystery to me, despite what the protesters were chanting. But I don’t blame the protesters either. Their children are dying. They’re fed up and tired and emotionally drained.

But here’s the thing with criminals, and assorted thugs and would-be criminals and their acolytes, and why the sort of government programs people call for wouldn’t work:

After-school programs? Those are for geeks they probably would prefer to bully.

Education? Geek. Keener. Sell-out.

Non-violence? What if someone dis-respects me? I have to show them.

Parents? My son’s a good kid. He’s learned his lesson. He goes to church and holds the door open for old people. (just like the little blond skinhead thug I saw in court years ago. I think he was then on his third assault charge of the year) Must be that bad hip hop music or violent video games.

Then there’s always the complaint that there’s no jobs, or no decent jobs, and no opportunity.

What does someone expect to get if you have a) no education and b) no marketable skills? Someone should just hand these kids $50K jobs and they’ll just blossom? I worked as a temp in a bad area of London (UK, Ladbroke Grove area), on an employer survey of area businesses. 10% didn’t hire someone due to lack of experience, another 10% due to lack of skills. Guess what the number one reason was? At over 50%, it was bad attitude. Over 50% of employers in a rather impoverished area didn’t hire particular applicants because even in the interview stage they demonstrated a lousy work ethic.

In addition to that, how does one go about encouraging businesses to invest in a particular area in order to provide decent jobs?  Call me crazy, but I tend to think that the ability to make money and not have to put up with too much crime probably factor in somewhere.

CBC Radio mentioned a group of community leaders calling out for more mentors for young boys from single parent families. Unfortunately I can’t find an online copy of the article, but strong same-sex role models would be more effective than all the government programs combined. It makes me wonder why something like that doesn’t get publicised more widely.

So what CAN be done? Two things:

Just f***ing legalize it already! Every single drug. Crack, pot, heroin, whatever. Alcohol prohibition didn’t work in the 20s, and prohibiting whatever crap it is that people like to poison themselves with isn’t working now.

See, the problem is that the ‘drug war’ is being fought primarily on the supply side. Of course, this idea was brought to you primarily by the same people who introduced supply-side economics. Neither work. Rarely is anything pure or simple, but this point is – drug use is fuelled by demand. Not supply. So long as there is a demand, there will be a supply. It might get restricted, which would make it more expensive, but that would just make the stakes & the potential pay-off of being a supplier that much higher.

I’ve always been baffled by conservatives who preach about the free market and ‘the laws of supply and demand’ and then think that the way the illegal drug industry works would somehow be an exception to those same laws.

Since drug prohibition was stepped up in the early 70s, marijuana has about 30x the THC content now than it did in the 60s. Heroin has gone from being about 5% pure and expensive to being around 95% pure and dirt cheap – one estimate claims that it’s six hundred times cheaper than 30-35 years ago.

So people get addicted. People are either prone to addiction or they are not, and those that are prone can get addicted to anything. It’s not a simple matter of impulse control – it could be something in the brain – but not everyone gets addicted even to drugs like heroin (which doctors used to prescribe as a pain medication, and a very effective one at that).

So far, drugs being illegal hasn’t been any sort of deterrent to people using them at any rate. Jay-walking’s illegal too, but that stops almost no one, even in front of a marked police car. On top of that, booze still comes out waay ahead as the drug of choice amongst those later occupying the many jail cells and hospital emergency wards across the country.

It might sound like it’s begging the question that making drugs illegal causes crime, but that’s really how it is. People who deal in illegal activities can’t go to small claims court or sue to enforce an agreement if one party doesn’t hold up their end, so disputes are resolved with violence. I’m not so naive as to think that if drugs were legalised tomorrow then criminal gangs would instantly dissolve and the members would all finish school and get a job at a bank, but it would remove the need to use violence to settle many of the sort of disputes that are now settled with guns on open streets, and there would be less of a dis-incentive towards a straighter path.

At the very least, a ‘drug dealer’ wearing an LCBO uniform and filing grievances with OPSEU wouldn’t exactly have an easily glamourised image.

The second point is:

Parents, GET A CLUE. Please. Each report over the past few weeks about the little thuglets that have been a participant in each of the high-profile crimes have been described as ‘good kids’ that don’t get into trouble. Right.

That kid who stole the Acura that crashed into a taxi and killed two teen-aged girls was a “sweet, `strong-willed’ boy” just “had a lot of energy”. Supposedly, it was the third car he’d boosted that day.

Another ‘good kid’ who’s friends were also ‘good kids’ was shot on the streets last weekend. His ‘good’ friends allegedly took off leaving it up to a passerby to try to save his life, and it’s been rumoured (was on CITY news) that this same ‘good kid’ had a gun too – he just didn’t have the chance to pull it out. I’m sure that once the perps are caught, their relatives will be bleating on CP24 about how they’re ‘good kids’ too.

The Montreal police launched a campaign, claiming that kids as young as 10 are being actively recruited. Part of me tends to think this is leaning towards the fuelling-hysteria side – I’ve read other reports that dispute that gangs are really that aggressive in recruiting. I would like to point out, however, that 10 year old kids that are supervised to the level that kids those age are legally required to be supervised, who receive enough parental attention and are accepted by other well-behaved kids are far less likely to be attracted to gangs regardless of how persuasive those gangs are.

There are some belatedly responsible parents out there who have turned in their own children to police because they found guns in their possession. I’m not necessarily advocating such a drastic measure, but parents really need to stop lying to themselves if their kid does start getting into trouble or be in denial that their little darling could ever do wrong.

It’s OK if you’ve screwed up, or that you need help. It’s not OK to just pretend that nothing’s wrong. Also, kids that have some degree of supervision, and who misbehave and are subsequently punished by their parents do tend to get up to far less trouble regardless of where they grew up. Or wind up dead. Isn’t it better to face your child’s shortcomings and try to take action than to go to their funeral, or the funeral of one of their friends?

Families aren’t ‘good’ because the parents buy them everything they need (or God forbid, want). They’re good if they mange to instill a sense of discipline and behavioural conduct. A fifteen-year-old out after midnight, stealing cars, is NOT normal. It’s not a phase. A teenager with a gun isn’t something that one should turn a blind eye too and pretend not to see. Until parents become more involved in their kids and take responsibility for themselves and their kids, no amount of money, no amount of after-school programs, no amount of cheap housing will solve the social problems that are going on. (And shut up about no time, not enough money, etc. Blaming poverty is a HUGE diss to the countless poor people out there who do raise good kids under tough circumstances, and also keep in mind that the ‘Columbine’ kids were from rich families with equally clueless parents.)

Should there be wider community and social support so that families help each other with the challenging job of raising a child? Yes, absolutely. Should things like affordable housing and opportunities and good education be a priority? Yes.

But bringing in more gun laws won’t solve anything. Nor will police raids on alleged drug gangs. Nor will throwing money at problem neighbourhoods, nor expanding the welfare state but not expecting parents to hold up their end.

*for those too young to remember the 80s, the Crips, along with the Bloods, were the two main ‘crack gangs’ that were the centre of a lot of media hysteria.

One response to “Election time posturing on crime

  1. Pingback: More thoughs on the Toronto shootings and the roundup of gangsters « littleblackduck

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s