Volume Four, Chapter Five: Dope Fiend Paranoia
“We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well.”- Richard Hofstatder, historian
I’ve lived in East Lake, one of the rougher areas of Chattanooga, Tn., since 2007. Between the crime and my personal history with drugs, you’d think that would be all the incentive in the world not to live here. And you’d be dead wrong. I work second shift, and miss out on a lot. And I’ve stayed clean since 2001 precisely because I live over here.
In order to get to some dope, I’d have to do three things I have no reason to engage in. I need an actual desire to get f*cked up. I’d have to be willing to have all kinds of strangers in my life or in my house. And the third is something that only irked me while addicted, but I hate now: I’d have to listen to people prattle on with their paranoia about law enforcement.
To see it played out on television and the Internet, you’d think the police are just walking up to completely innocent bystanders and slamming them on the ground. I have went my entire lifetime, the bulk of it in the inner cities, without a single violent confrontation with law enforcement. I can name people in East Lake that have done the same.
From early on, and especially when I was driving a cab here in Chattanooga, I realized that yes, law enforcement is a source of revenue to any city. They write tickets and enforce fines. But those fines and tickets are only valid when somebody breaks a law. After all, law enforcement is just that: LAW ENFORCEMENT.
I also knew early on that constant interaction with law enforcement is seldom a good thing. That concept sticks with me to this day. It’s not so much because they’re these corrupt sentinels of selective justice. It’s because when they’re not writing tickets, they’re handling situations that would seem to be beyond reasonable control.
In the places I’ve lived over the years, the neighbors would argue and get in drunken brawls. More times than not, though, they would be broken up by some voice of reason, and those involved would seldom discuss the happenings with just anybody. The old rule growing up was to “Keep the man out your business”.
It was understood that having to bring in a referee was proof that those people didn’t know how to handle their business or ran around and told their business. Either way, people avoided them. It also meant that if “the man” was called often enough, he’d set up shop in the hood. He could descend on them like a marching army, and they didn’t want that.
Hell, even drug dealers knew the value of handling their own affairs. Many of the people I knew doing those things, as wrong as they were, did not want to openly give the neighborhood a rep. Many of them also had full-time jobs, and refused to risk their families or careers by getting arrested or having the phone ring all hours of the night.
Rather than risk finding out too late which police were rogue, they decided not having them around at all was the best option. They were smart enough to at least try to play it smart. Keep in mind that I’m referring to the mid-80’s to the early-90’s, when minding one’s own business was a very important trait.
It’s certainly not that way today. It’s nothing to see some broke-ass dealer standing on the street corner dressed well beyond his means flagging down cars. They do that in-between breaks of police war stories and creating “beefs” on social media. They flash dope money, throw up gang signs, and even do their dirt on video for the world to see on Worldstar Hip-Hop.
In keeping with the paranoia that’s just part and parcel with subversive living, they dedicate their extravagance to all the “haters” out there. That term usually applies to somebody they see out somewhere that doesn’t give the obligatory applause. It never occurs to them that their audience may include somebody who can literally do something about them.
When the goal is attention, the downside is that one rarely gets to decide what kind of attention they draw. Thus, law enforcement’s greatest sin is not capturing someone doing wrong, which even the perpetrator knows to be such. It’s not responding the way the pseudo-celebrity wants them to, and even worse, making them suffer negative consequences.
It’s so odd that people don’t seem to mind the personal consequences of the dope game. The multiple children and stacks of child support, the side effects of drug use, and the frequent poverty don’t bother people. But somebody else imposing a punishment upon them for something they know is wrong seems to be a big problem with the anti-police crowd.
Were they still alive, the martyred saints of this movement, all of who had criminal records, would not be welcome in the neighborhoods of those playing dead on the interstate. The latest anti-police schtick is simply a gathering place for the paranoid, the guilty, or the excitable looking for an excuse to create anarchy. The corpses they march over are simply props.
I’ve been clean for 13 years now, but even then, I recognized the police were a part of my habit, even if indirectly. Rather than risk the rest of my life looking over my shoulder, I just decided to drop the whole damned addiction. I don’t need a cop story to warrant me talking. But some do, and all I can say is that they might as well accept this as part of the price they pay.
The greatest enemy of a paranoid person is most often one of their own making.
Next time, the source where I found the Hofstadter quote…