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On places familiar, where the tent cities glow
A man smokes meth below a (former) mayor's penthouse, and questions are asked of 'harm reduction' and those who pretend this is working.
“They passed a law. Oh, it started very small. In 1950 and '60 it was a grain of sand. They began by controlling books of cartoons and then detective books and, of course, films, one way or another, one group or another, political bias, religious prejudice, union pressures; there was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves.” -Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles
What does entropy smell like? Dust and secondhand crystal meth and people.
And if you’re wondering what it looks like, picture a man cooking on the pavement in the mid-day Bedford and Bloor sun, bringing fire and brimstone to his City of Toronto-brand pipe, while, unbeknownst to him, the (former) mayor who would have greenlit said act of ‘harm reduction’ lorded over him, blissfully unaware, from the penthouse above.
This is the reality of our cities now, that each day we run, walk, or ride through delicate ruins that don’t know it yet. The street signs may be the same (save for the likely cancellation of one or two of your local historical figures), but component parts have gone missing.
Earthian logic, common sense, good government, and responsibility are now the exception, not the rule.
Even the most performatively compassionate ‘slacktivists’ among us have to be engaging in hushed debates in their own heads, wondering if maybe a line needs to be drawn at designated defecation streets, and all that dust, and blood, and smoke.
They won’t come out and admit that. Not yet, of course, lest they be branded as some ‘conservative’ who ‘pounces’ on the issue of the day.
They can’t have that. Better to sit back, watch the decay, and find comfort in some perceived majority. There’s safety in numbers — even when those numbers are forced to disassociate to make the equation work.
Besides, the majority is always right, is it not? Never, ever wrong. Not once in all our years…
Things do need to change, of course. Even if the solution isn’t easy; even if it takes a whole host of trial and error.
I happen to be admittedly biased, as I just so happen to be working (read: volunteering) for a mayoral campaign that has designs on taking a different approach:
“Torontonians are looking on in horror at places like Vancouver, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco, and they don’t want to go one step further in that direction,” Anthony Furey said. “That’s why I will put an end to pushing taxpayer-funded crack pipes across the system. It’s unbelievable that this even going on.”
Furey added that Torontonians tell him they support his plan to phase out injection sites and replace them with treatment centres.
We have to try treatment centres, even if there’s no consensus on best practices. ‘Harm reduction’ at all costs has come at far too great a cost. When parents no longer feel comfortable with their children taking transit, or walking home from school, because of many of the ‘unhoused,’ they have every right to share those concerns, and purple-haired, ‘unshowered’ twentysomethings with degrees even more useless than my BA in Poli Sci have no right to besmirch those actual adults by painting them with a broad brush.
In the aftermath of today’s inexplicably-routine run-in with secondhand crystal meth, I found myself reflecting upon a few passages from one of my favourite American novels, Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles.
Like Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury imagines a world (and worlds) undone by political correctness, hubris, and the roads to hell that were once paved with good intentions.
“. . . There was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves.”
As I passed through the city’s sunken and sullen faces, belonging to those who now only feel comfortable coming alive, both politically or socioculturally, from behind the safety of some user interface, I thought about that quote, and the relation it shares with so much of what ails us — even ‘harm reduction.’
Yes, they're scared, and who isn’t at least a little bit afraid of the dark? But to neuter the world, and its rules, and its words, under the auspice of comfort and compassion, is to give up on the world entire.
We’re no longer helping these people, we’re just handing them a longer leash for which to hang themselves with.
For everyone’s sake, perhaps it’s time to lead them somewhere other than astray.
Alexander Brown is a writer, editor, and part-time politico living in Toronto, Canada. If you enjoyed this piece and believe in supporting independent media, subscribe today.