Friday, February 22, 2008

Origin of the Species

There are two different articles on Downtown in the Scene piece by Jeff Woods this week. The first and most important is the one that takes a hard look at Metro government's failure to deal with chronic homelessness on Nashville streets. That makes the story worthy.

The unworthy part is the ridiculous reduction of the problems that ripple out from chronic homelessness to a Darwinian fight between wealthy Downtown residents and poor homeless people. His riff also causes him to oversimplify problems associated not just with homelessness but with crime. Here's a "for instance":
Next on the council’s action agenda is ... a citywide ban on selling one beer at a time, an attempt to prevent drunks from buying 40s of malt liquor and littering downtown with bottles. The likely unintended consequence: Homeless alcoholics will buy mouthwash and drink it instead. Scope is already increasingly popular on the street.
Actually, this is only a half-truth. In Salemtown we have a market that only seems to exist to sell 40s. And those 40s attract their share of litter, of course, but they also attract devoted criminals who look for drug transactions in front of the market and who yell at and intimidate pedestrians, especially female pedestrians.

On Sunday, the market owner was shot in his own parking lot. How is that any less the result of selling single-serve malt liquor exclusively? It's not just the homeless who are attracted to 40s. And here's something interesting: the market has been closed every day since the shooting, and I've seen no suspicious, shady people hanging around outside. Wouldn't that suggest that stopping the sale of those big singles prevents some neighborhood crime from happening?

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