Who’s worse, homeless people or drug dealers?
At first glance, who would you say is the more respectable and “upright” member of society — the homeless person, pushing their worldly possessions in a shopping cart or the Coquitlam, B.C., man in the news right now, who is alleged by police to be a drug dealer and a money launderer but insists that he lawfully acquired his $1.6 million home and Porsche Cayenne on a landscaper’s pay?
Okay, that’s an unfair comparison; landscapers are certainly respectable contributing members of society.
What about an actual dyed-in-the-wool drug dealer who doesn’t claim to be a landscaper?
Obviously the drug dealer, with all their money and property, is always more respectable than the homeless person until, that is, they are proven guilty in a British Columbia court of law.
And even then, in the eyes of society, homeless people will still end up taking most of the blame for the drug dealer’s bad habits.
Blaming the victim is the conservative thing to do
Isn’t it the case that the problems flowing from the illegal trade in street drugs — the crime, the addiction, the street disorder, the deaths and so on — are more often laid at the feet of the street people who are addicted to the drugs, than at the doorstep of the slime who sell them the drugs.
This confusion of who is the victim, who is doing the victimizing and who is responsible, stems from the mistaken belief at the heart of conservative ideology that the pursuit of wealth is an end in itself and society is just the means to that end.
The misconception that profit comes before people has long had currency in Canadian society, But it has been a guiding principle through the nine years of the Harper conservative government.
To social conservatives like Prime Minister Stephen Harper, drug addicts are almost solely to blame for any “drug problem”. That’s because drug addicts make the choice to use drugs and therefore have personal responsibility for their drug addictions.
But, in the conservative scheme of things, drug dealers can have little or no personal responsibility for the consequences of selling the drugs in the first place. That’s because drug trafficking is a business — in fact, it’s just the kind of unregulated laissez-faire capitalism that conservatives love.
And you know what they say: “There’s nothing personal, it’s just business”.
Conservatives prefer to place the onus of responsibility on the consumer:
“There’s a sucker born every minute”…”buyer beware” — all that free market jazz.
Drug addicts are clearly the first victims of the illegal drug trade but conservatives flip things around and blame the victims (the drug addicts) for enabling the crime of drug trafficking.
Where homeless drug addicts are concerned, this is a clear case of putting the shopping cart before the “horse“, as it were.
And ultimately, in the conservative worldview — so prejudiced towards making and keeping money and believing, as it does, that capitalism is amoral — what can drug dealers every really be found guilty of, beyond the crime of getting caught?
And even then, the crime of homelessness, rooted as it is in poverty and economic unfitness, remains the more serious offense.
Everyone knows, after all, that when the convicted drug dealer has paid their debt to society, they have the proven business skills to quickly return to being a self-supporting, tax-paying, car and home-buying member of the community.
The same cannot necessarily be said for homeless people (the poor losers).
These are just some of the things that I’m thinking about on the fifth day of Metro Vancouver’s Homeless Action Week. Click the image to enlarge it.