David Simon, the creator of the classic HBO drama “The Wire,” bristled Tuesday in defense of the show after it was called “the best piece of conservative art ever made.”
Simon, reacting in a lengthy Twitter thread that ran to 30 posts, seemed to suggest the show could in the same vein represent police in a positive light as it related to the fight against violent crime and homicide while also highlighting the wasted resources they inhabit in the wider “war on drugs.”
“When a s—bird mangles an opponent’s language into his own rhetoric, you can be assured of one thing,” Simon wrote. “He’s stuffing a strawman weak enough so he can wrestle with it. Two things can be true at once and in this case are.”
Simon was reacting to a Twitter comment from user @RowanKaiser, whose post was in turn a reaction to another earlier Simon thread discussing mass incarceration and the policing of violent crime and homicide.
“The Wire remains the best piece of conservative art ever made,” the tweet said. “David Simon has no idea that’s true though.”
Simon then laid out his treatise in a numerated list (though he eventually quit numerating them in the interest of efficiency).
“Mass incarceration and the drug war have filled too many American prisons and have done so as an overly of systemic racism and class warfare,” Simon wrote. “That has to stop and I’ve been arguing and writing about it for 25 years.”
Simon has proven to be a prolific creative for HBO over those 25 years, having produced three full series and five miniseries for the network, several of which feature similar dramatic themes involving the police and urban decay. Those include his latest efforts, 2022’s “We Own This City,” a six-episode limited series, and “The Deuce,” which spanned three seasons from 2017-19.
“In Baltimore and other cities, the arrest rates for the most violent categories of crime have collapsed over the last two decades,” Simon wrote. “Years of drug warring have taught the last couple generations of cops the skill set to sweep corners, make car stops and go into pockets to make their stats, make their OT and court pay, and get promoted. The skill set to retroactively investigate a murder or rape or robbery and arrest the right person has been devalued dramatically. Even the patrol function in urban department has been transformed from crime prevention to that of street-level hunting and gathering of drug stats. And so, now in my city, the murder rate is higher than it has ever been in history and few are prosecuted. The cost is, again, cruelly racial.”
“The Wire” is often in the conversation as one of the best TV dramas ever made. Running five seasons and 60 episodes from 2002-08, it spotlighted the blight of the urban drug trade using Baltimore’s innercity streets as a canvas and the city’s police and newspaper staffers as ancillary stars.
“If you talk to the people who live, or labor or try to raise families in the most vulnerable places in my city, if you f—ing listen, you learn that no, they don’t want to be harassed and abused and brutalized by some army of occupation fighting an endless siege in the name of a substance prohibition that has worn down not only civil liberties but the quality of law enforcement,” Simon wrote. “But they very much want the police to not disappear, but to come down to the corner and lock up the fellow who keeps shooting people. They want that guy gone.”
Read Simon’s entire thread below.