What does it say when ‘The Wire’s’ David Simon thinks Florida is more dangerous than West Baltimore?

By on March 26, 2012

For the better part of the last decade, writer and director David Simon depicted in ‘The Wire’ a view of Baltimore, Maryland that appeared as fraught with danger as any war zone (is it was no wonder Simon chose the Gulf War as his next subject matter — he needed a setting more upbeat).

‘Bodymore, Murderland,’ with its drug trade, gang wars and triple-digit body count was an almost-apocalyptic perspective of American life at the turn of the century.  In ‘The Wire’, death and murder is an everyday occurrence.  Baltimore is no place to be triflin’, I can almost hear one of the show’s characters warn.

So what does it say when Simon, a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award, concludes that Florida is more dangerous than West Baltimore?

The state of Florida and others like it have lost all sense, concludes Simon in an op-ed for the Miami Herald.

“In its zeal to champion property owners and the gun lobby, the state of Florida — specifically its legislature and former Gov. Jeb Bush, who signed the bill into law — have created a legal hole through which the proverbial truck can be driven. Whether by ignorance or neglect, Florida’s leaders have created a world in which anyone can set their own personal standard for taking human life, provided they tell themselves they “reasonably” believe that in doing so they are responding to a potentially lethal threat.

It’s no wonder that professional law enforcement officials oppose these new laws. They are, at best, a license for any fool with a firearm to shoot anyone he decides to fear, and at worst, an invitation to murder.”

Even in the worst of times, as the city was being ravaged by the drug trade, Baltimore avoided resorted to implementing “Stand Your Ground” gun laws.

“Prosecutors looked at the case of a young man shot dead for the crime of theft, and they asserted for a society in which the taking of a human life is justifiable only in the most desperate extremity. … neither did they dare to send the wrong message, to suggest to all of us that there are acceptable reasons to kill, if indeed, you do not need to kill.”

Conservatives will argue that if, perhaps, Baltimore and other crime-ridden cities and states, implemented laws such as those in Florida and other places in the neo-Wild West, they would not have the crime which plagues them. And they will be missing the point.

This isn’t about crime-prevention or deterrents.  This is about how society regards human life.  And when it does so with as little regard as assassin Snoop Pearson, one of Simon’s most fearsome characters, or George Zimmerman, a real-life executioner, all of us live in a world not too far from the worst neighborhoods of West Baltimore. Or Florida.

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