Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bad things happen everywhere. They are just more likely to happen to you here.

So maybe you heard about this girl who came out of her house in Hubbard Farms or wherever the other day, only to find her car without its tires. Bummer.

Obviously, this is an epic pain in the ass that no decent citizen should have to deal with. The victim chose to write her way through the frustration. Good call. Annoyingly, though, this person felt she had to preface her story with that old Detroitism. You know the one. Bad things happen everywhere.

It's sad that this dumb and annoying thing happened to her. It's even more sad that the rah rah/sis boom bah, Let's Fix Detroit booster crowd has its followers running so scared that they have to put disclaimers in front of everything they say that might be remotely negative.

Is free speech dead? (Has Detroit been annexed to Canada?) Is refusing to tow the line and gloss over the realities of modern-day Detroit (which range from annoying to just plain sickening) when speaking in public now a crime?

It ought to be possible to love your city more than life itself AND have no patience or tolerance for its stupidity. If this concept confuses you somehow, you really aren't much of a help to Detroit.

Bad things do happen everywhere, but the difference between many other fine cities and Detroit is that in Detroit, there is an atmosphere of permissiveness, of apathy. Love the cops or don't -- yes, these are some fine men and women, but on the whole, they are just not up to the task. Sometimes they come through and do great work. Sometimes, you're just on your own. Facts is facts. That this is allowed to continue, year after year, is Detroit's fault. Detroit permits this.

Stick your head in the sand all you want, but bad things in other places usually happen far less randomly. They happen in terrible neighborhoods that everyone has given up on. They happen to people who run with wrong crowds. People who are in the drug trade. People who have family troubles.

In Detroit in 2011, all you have to do to become a target is own property. Sometimes it's a smash 'n' grab during a hockey game. Sometimes it's just petty theft. Sometimes it is home invasions. Sometimes it is worse. Sorry, but firebombings do not happen everywhere as a matter of course. Get that much straight at least.

The story of those two little girls who died earlier this year when an arsonist decided to torch a home, for whatever reason, or the other one about that man and his father who were killed when they surprised a burglar in their home up by Moross not too long ago should be upsetting to every Detroiter. What about the lady crossing the street from her home by the Tim Hortons on Jefferson, killed in broad daylight for her purse? No? Nothing?

Too many people -- particularly self-appointed saviors living in hip areas near the core, where they're safe from most of the problems that plague most other neighborhoods -- can't face the reality of what the city has become, so they say things like, "bad things happen everywhere."

Until everyone stops rolling over and taking it, deluding themselves into thinking that if they lived in a semi-decent neighborhood in Chicago, they had just as much chance of interrupting an armed home invasion when they come back from the grocery store, or watching their little girls die at the hands of arsonists; just as much chance of waking up in the morning to find their car up on blocks, or leaving their home to go to work, only to be shot and killed by a purse snatcher just steps off a busy street corner, then Detroit doesn't have a chance, sorry.

UPDATE 4/22: Here is a great -- and by great I mean frustrating as fuck -- example of what I'm talking about. First, read this. Now, read this. Find brick wall. Smash head into it. Rinse, repeat.


Dylan said...

I think that a given crime, no matter how terrible, should not define how a city is. To say that Detroit doesn't have a chance because X bad thing happened here is just easy and trite. Did Waco not have a chance because of the riots there? Is Manhattan going to shut down because of 9/11? Is San Fran a lawless Lord of the Flies city because some fifteen year old just shot and killed a sixteen year old and then tried to cover it up by sawing apart the body and setting it on fire?

There are murderers, rapists, thieves, and con artists. They will always exist. Our response to these crimes has gotten better. The crime rate is down.

But crime will never be out. And if you've survived whatever atrocity you've experienced, then you should write as much as you can down and report the mother fucker in the hopes his luck runs out. The occurrence of a bad thing is not caused by the place.

Do we need to fix our crime lab, reorganize our police force, and halt the failed drug war? Yes.
Would I love to see police walking the beat, making neighborhood contacts, and helping little old ladies cross the street? Yes.
I suggest these things regularly in various ways.

Still. In the big scheme of things crimes are not as significant as you make them out to be. As everyone in the region makes them out to be. And really this perception kills more people than the actual crimes themselves.

You are probably going to die of a heart attack, stroke, or cancer. Like over sixty percent of Detroiters do. It's the paradox of bike helmet laws: they kill more people than they save because of the number of people who would have been riding if it weren't for the helmet.

Where is our courage?

David said...

Thanks for the comment.

I did not say Detroit doesn't have a chance because bad things happen, and I never would.

I said that Detroit doesn't have a chance if Detroiters keep making excuses for the atmosphere of permissiveness and lawlessness that enables stupid and sometimes terrible things to happen far more randomly than they might in other places.

And, right on cue, here you are, rolling your eyes at me. And making excuses for Detroit. Because decades of doing that have served it really well, right?

Amber said...

i'm mad as hell and i'm not going to take it anymore.

now what?

David said...

@Amber -- Move to Grosse Pointe Park?

Amber said...

is that the solution that you are suggesting with this article? you want people to be mad about the state of things. but then what? move out of detroit? just be mad? what exactly is your solution for the issues that plague the city?

David said...

@Amber - Jesus. I was joking. Much easier than answering your question, right?

Look -- you can't solve the problem when people won't admit there is one. Why they do it is no longer interesting to me, but Detroit loves to indulge in denial, blaming the victim, rationalization, calling bullshit (when the only thing they should be doing is shutting the fuck up) on stories reported by multiple credible news outlets.

Or, things happen to them, and they respond by tamping down their anger in fear of being seen as not loving Detroit enough. Christ - talk about whipped.

You're pissed? Great. Get everyone else on the same page. Then change will come, because it will have to.

Practically, though, there are many smaller ideas to consider. There was a great campaign going on in Sao Paulo some years back, that encouraged robbery victims not to just roll over and take it, but rather to get furious and speak out. There was something quite poignant about the whole thing -- nothing like seeing a whole group of cars with stickers reading JA FUI ASSALTADO at a traffic light.

It didn't solve Sao Paulo's problems, but it heightened awareness and fostered solidarity at a time when both were desperately needed.

Nicholas Gregory said...

There is no excuse for a city that has failed its people or the other way around.