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Storyville: The House I Live In

Messages: 1 - 19 of 19
  • Message 1. 

    Posted by Turner (U14992668) on Monday, 14th January 2013

    BBC Four, tonight 10 pm.

    This promises to be the highlight of the week.

    "As America remains embroiled in overseas conflict, a less visible war is taking place at home, costing countless lives, destroying families and inflicting untold damage on future generations of Americans. For over forty years, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests, made America the world's largest jailer and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet for all that, drugs are more available today than ever before.

    Filmed in more than twenty states, this film captures a definitive and heart-wrenching portrait of individuals at all levels of America's War on Drugs. From the dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to the federal judge, the film offers a penetrating look inside America's longest war, revealing its profound human rights implications.

    While recognising the seriousness of drug abuse as a matter of public health, the film investigates the tragic errors and shortcomings that have instead treated it as a matter for law enforcement, creating a vast political and economic machine that feeds largely on America's poor, especially minority communities. Yet beyond simple misguided policy, the film investigates how political and economic corruption have fuelled the war for forty years, despite persistent evidence of its moral, economic and practical failures.
    Ultimately, the documentary seeks, through compassionate inquiry, to promote public awareness of the history and contemporary mechanics of this human rights crisis and to begin a national conversation about its reform.

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  • Message 2

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Ceiderduck (U14588518) on Monday, 14th January 2013

    Thoroughly disturbing and depressing...something has to change, but it's not gonna happen anytime soon

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  • Message 3

    , in reply to message 2.

    Posted by Turner (U14992668) on Tuesday, 15th January 2013

    A powerful, superb, very moving - if rather bleak - look into the cause and effect of the 'war on drugs' phenomenon in the US, which as it turns out never had much to do with drugs but was born out of a particularly nasty and racist strain of social engineering, and it's now more about politics and the economy.

    Safety? Social order? Nah, millions of dispossessed Americans are now routinely jailed (many for minor, non violent crimes and for life) not because they put the rest of society at risk but because they are part of a cynical industry, useful as an electoral campaign gimmick, and a nice little earner for the many that have their hands in this depressingly immoral pie.

    I'm on my mobile and at work so can't write too much, and this deserves a more considered post really, but just wanted to highlight it for those who missed it.


    Thoroughly disturbing and depressing...something has to change, but it's not gonna happen anytime soon  

    Oh, nothing will change, unless for the worse. Depressingly, if the coalition's proposals for privatising our prisons and our law enforcement go through, we can look forward to having the same morally corrupt and fiscally disastrous mess over here.
    A nice cheerful thought.

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  • Message 4

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Peta (U24) on Tuesday, 15th January 2013


    Did anyone else watch? Any views?

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  • Message 5

    , in reply to message 4.

    Posted by Dover Soul (U14934992) on Tuesday, 15th January 2013

    I watched some of it. Found some of what I did watch quite disturbing. I think it was very well made and the problem very well portrayed. But of course it didn't, well couldn't, give any real solutions and the fight will go on.

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  • Message 6

    , in reply to message 4.

    Posted by mirandashell (U1946590) ** on Tuesday, 15th January 2013

    I watched it. And a lot of it made me shake my head in disbelief. I knew the legal /prison system was bad over there. But not that bad.

    Very good documentary though. Interesting that it tried to show as many opinions as possible from people from all parts of the process.

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  • Message 7

    , in reply to message 4.

    Posted by Huckerback (U14411634) on Tuesday, 15th January 2013

    Some interesting questions were raised, but I found it a bit confusing.

    A lot of the arguments could be made for any crime, not just drug crime. It seemed to veer away from 'the war on drugs' to arguing against the US policy of mandatory minimums.

    When Nancy Reagan was showing saying users of illegal drugs are an accessory to murder - I was surprised the film didn't address that point of view. In fact it frequently referred to 'non-violent' drug offenders; even though their activities fund organised crime, which causes immense violence around the world - although the plight of those communities is hardly ever addressed.
    In the end I agree with the film-maker about the failure of mandatory minimums, but don't think the documentary offered much to help resolve the drugs problem.
    (I didn't think the resort to Godwin in the final third was very useful.)

    Ultimately it seems the question is how bad does a person's personal situation have to be before they can no longer be held responsible for their decisions.

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  • Message 8

    , in reply to message 7.

    Posted by mirandashell (U1946590) ** on Tuesday, 15th January 2013

    I don't think it was meant to offer a solution to drug crime, as such. For me the point was that in America, drug crime is treated more harshly than other crimes. Mandatory minimums can mean that a guy found with one rock on him can do more time than a murderer.

    And drug sentencing does come down a lot heavier on poor communities.

    So I took from it that the present system is really not working if the idea is to solve drug crime. If it's just to make money off prisoners, then yeah, it works.

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  • Message 9

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by richjenn13 (U13684276) on Tuesday, 15th January 2013

    Riveting watching!

    Quite superb in the way that it introduced individuals, painted the obvious [stereotypical?] picture, then allowed their dialogue to illustrate the tragedy of the situation -
    eg the Prison boss who loves his job, but is quite clear that making criminals of minor offenders is insane -
    and the description of the Drug Dealer as "Mr Nice", handing out ice cream and paying back rent, by the Florida guy whose life had been close to wrecked by drugs.

    This was astonishing, even to someone who regards the US as a disaster zone already. And this is a country that preaches democracy and Christian Values around the world? Make me shudder.
    Thanks BBC for showing this.
    Put it on again, on BBC1, at peak time!

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  • Message 10

    , in reply to message 7.

    Posted by Peta (U24) on Tuesday, 15th January 2013


    This programme is on iPlayer - if anyone would like to watch.

    I've just downloaded it, sounds interesting!

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  • Message 11

    , in reply to message 10.

    Posted by mirandashell (U1946590) ** on Tuesday, 15th January 2013

    It is. Really makes you think about the War On Drugs. And it shows it from the perspective of the dealers, the addicts and the law enforcement community. The points made by some of the judges hit quite hard.

    Also some interesting points made about why the WoD was started in the first place. Not sure I believe all of them but they do sound believable!

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  • Message 12

    , in reply to message 9.

    Posted by jannemieke (U9267858) ** on Tuesday, 15th January 2013

    Put it on again, on BBC1, at peak time!
     


    Yes, please as I don't have BBC4 but I have seen Storyville documentaries and always find them very good. smiley - ok

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  • Message 13

    , in reply to message 5.

    Posted by Turner (U14992668) on Tuesday, 15th January 2013

    I watched some of it. Found some of what I did watch quite disturbing. I think it was very well made and the problem very well portrayed. But of course it didn't, well couldn't, give any real solutions and the fight will go on.  

    There's no magic wand solution to this vast, complex problem, but there are several measures which should be implemented right now because it just makes sense, based on the total failure of past and current policies.
    The film highlighted some of these.

    Reagan's grotesque Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which has caused so much misery and exacerbation of the problem, was overturned by Obama two years ago but what replaced it, the Fair Sentencing Act, is still way short of what's required, still racially biased and still allowing massive injustices to take place. Also, it is not retro-active, so the current prison population does not benefit from it at all, and new offenders only suffer 'less'.
    So number one would be to do something about the legal/ sentencing aspect of the problem.

    And number two, until highly profitable private prisons and law-enforcement agencies are allowed to exist and ply their cynical trade (did anyone else think for a minute the footing from the conference was satire, only to realise it was real?) , the financial incentive to just keep locking up people for minor crimes will continue. Same with the Civil Asset Seizure rules. Do something about that.

    Third, address the way drug abuse is depicted by politicians in the media, especially during election time. Until we treat all drug abusers as criminals and not victims, they will be treated as nothing more than convenient pawns in a political game between the two parties. I was surprised to see that of all president in the last century, Nixon was the only one to focus more on treatment, education and rehabilitation than punishment.

    And that's just for starters.

    By the way, if someone has any links/articles telling us more about Nannie Jeter, whose story I found deeply affecting, please share. What a life she must have led.

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  • Message 14

    , in reply to message 13.

    Posted by Turner (U14992668) on Tuesday, 15th January 2013

    Er... that was *footage* from the conference, not footing smiley - doh

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  • Message 15

    , in reply to message 14.

    Posted by Going_once (U14931925) on Tuesday, 15th January 2013

    Illuminating, best kind of documentary, educating about something I knew little about, the history of the War on Drugs and its political roots and terrible consequences. A slow Holocaust is a strong thesis but he made the case. Ultimating angry-making and depressing but well worth watching.

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  • Message 16

    , in reply to message 5.

    Posted by Prophet Tenebrae (U5995226) on Sunday, 20th January 2013

    I watched some of it. Found some of what I did watch quite disturbing. I think it was very well made and the problem very well portrayed. But of course it didn't, well couldn't, give any real solutions and the fight will go on.

     
    The problem that our political class has is... even if they took the time to stop talking in soundbites and rhetoric and tried to LOOK at answers (or heaven forfend ACTUAL EVIDENCE), they'd probably lose interest the second they realise there are no quick fixes. Nothing flashy or sexy to sell to the electorate and so, nothing of use to anyone likely to achieve power.

    In the end I agree with the film-maker about the failure of mandatory minimums, but don't think the documentary offered much to help resolve the drugs problem. 
    If you're complaining about that, I fear you may have missed the point.

    There ARE no simple solutions. That's what this documentary illustrates in depressing detail. There's no single cause behind the problem and no magic bullet to fix it all. It's a very complex, interwoven series of social, historic, racial and economic issues that are all held rigidly in place by inertia and a mass of vested interests.

    Seeing the creator of The Wire on there explains a lot about how that manages to be such an unremittingly grim, gritty, cynical and oft misanthropic tale of how people can have good intentions but they can be rendered useless by a system so trussed up in arbitrary and unhelpful processes.

    It pains me that documentaries of this quality are squirrelled away into the deepest, darkest recesses of the schedule. The BBC spent money getting the rights to this and it's honestly one of the finest documentaries I've seen in quite some time (I've a penchant for depressing documentaries - so, that's not something I say lightly)... so I'll second the calls for this to get an outing on prime time BBC1.

    Needless to say, the existence of Storyville alone justifies my license fee... More of this, less brain dead banality like "The Dark Charisma Of Adolf Hitler" and Horizon please!

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  • Message 17

    , in reply to message 16.

    Posted by Huckerback (U14411634) on Sunday, 20th January 2013

    In the end I agree with the film-maker about the failure of mandatory minimums, but don't think the documentary offered much to help resolve the drugs problem.  If you're complaining about that, I fear you may have missed the point.
    There ARE no simple solutions. That's what this documentary illustrates in depressing detail. 

    That's hardly a revelation though.
    Admittedly I learned a lot about the details of the situation in the US.
    But, overall, I didn't think it was as impressive as I'd hoped - over-long and lacking focus imho.
    (The panel on the 'Review Show' said it was a 'must see'.)

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  • Message 18

    , in reply to message 17.

    Posted by Prophet Tenebrae (U5995226) on Sunday, 20th January 2013

    If it's not a revelation there are no simple answers... then why were you expecting some?

    But I suppose that's why this is languishing on BBC4...

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  • Message 19

    , in reply to message 18.

    Posted by Huckerback (U14411634) on Sunday, 20th January 2013

    If it's not a revelation there are no simple answers... then why were you expecting some?  Was I?
    smiley - yawn

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