Ok, I think by now everyone is familiar with the Stop Snitching enterprise. I jumped on the Stop Snitching bandwagon last spring, with a purchase of the DVD on the internets. For months, I basked in the glory of the street motto, throwing around the hoodrat banter because it's catchy and rebellious. To revel in the popularity of Stop Snitching is to identify with the "street" - a lifestyle, mindset, and society that exists outside the bounds of white-dominated, middle-class, standard law and order civilization. Hip-hop derives its credibility from its subversive ability to mock a set of bland bourgeois values in favor of a flashy, rhythmic, and unruly culture.
However, it is a mistake to suggest that the Stop Snitching creed typifies all of hip-hop culture. This creed is undoubtedly highly pervasive in a large segment of the population that identifies with hip-hop. Yet, at some point, the line between foul, gangland violence and stylized urban garb becomes blurry. Does donning the Stop Snitching uniform imply that one embraces witness intimidation at its ugliest?
Currently, three Bloods are standing trial in Baltimore for firebombing a snitch's house. This sinful snitch happens to be the Harwood Community Association President, Edna McAbier. After years of watching thugs take over her neighborhood, McAbier began contacting the police more and more. Because she threatened the turf and thus profits of neighborhood dealers, Snitch McAbier got Molotovs launched at her crib. Does the Stop Snitching credo truly intend to silence innocent civilians on the sidelines of the drug war? Or ought it apply only to those who are part of the game?
It seems to me that some mafias respect their community fabric to the extent that no elderly lady would ever need to rat them out. However, so much gang violence in American cities has reached the point where ferocious kingpins or even minor wankstas feel menaced by geriatric neighborhood residents. Where's the justice? Stop snitching, both in video and t-shirt formats, is filled with humor and cultural nuance. However, the witness intimidation problem has become too severe to condone the whole phenom. On the one hand, I seek to extol the virtues of a rebellious subculture. On the other, I realize that too many people suffer unnecessarily when thugs tip the scales of justice in their favor.
This is not to say that I wholly empathize with urban law enforcement. I am adamantly opposed to the drug war for so many reasons. I think the so-called war on drugs is misguided, ridiculous, and inappropriate. So, perhaps law enforcement has pushed drug dealers to resort to such vile tactics. The police, in many instances, are equally a band of street thugs. I resent the tactics of both the legally-sanctioned enforcers and the illegal street soldiers. Neither side is willing to step down at this point. And, consequently, we all lose! Innocent lives are lost in the hood due to gun clapping and all manner of street antics. The civil liberties of young men are compromised across the country because law enforcement seeks to weed out the gangstas among us. Drug addicts are prevented from attaining optimal health because we have criminalized their medical problems. Law enforcement funds and other public resources are squandered on an endless battle to up the violence ante and to shower us with government propaganda.
The time has come to halt both the government gangs and the street gangs, for both are complicit in an undying war. With steady demand for hard drugs, the supply will always be available from somewhere. Regardless of how many open-air drug markets are shut down or how many drug dealers are locked up, the scourge of drug addiction will remain. The link between violent crime and psychological/medical deviance must be severed. Addiction is a medical problem, and violent crime is only necessary because dealers seek to protect their territory.
George W. Bush, come out of your rock house and tell your federal boys to start selling rock on the block. Put the dealers out of business by undercutting them - with your treatment centers dotting every major city in the country. Too many people have a vested interest in this game. Too many people have too much pride to snitch and too much idiocy to change.
I'm not sure what percentage of urban GDP is illicit drug sales. The jobs provided by this industry are indeed sought after. Profits can be enormous, but death or incarceration is virtually certain. Talented young men are lost to the drug trade when they could be excelling in other more healthy pursuits. Resources should be poured into shifting dealers into legitimate employment. In any event, jails are a short-term solution for a society that has no regard for long-term consequences. Jails provide us with tougher and tougher thugs.
Law enforcement needs to put down its big guns, too. The whole law enforcement industry (corrections, local police, DEA, FBI) has a vested interest in maintaining the current level of funding and support for the drug war. Many in this community derive profit from this sinister process. The pigs need to cooperate with the dealers and save the lives of innocent bystanders. And, the dealers cannot enforce the Stop Snitching code on those who remain outside the game, who have not agreed to abide by the street contract. Either way, drugs will eventually be taken out of the street game and pushed by medical staff in scrubs. And, I suppose, the thugs in their long white tees will ultimately find other poisons to push, once this urban pharmaceutical hustle dries up.