On Tuesday night David Simon, previous Baltimore Sun crime reporter and writer/producer of The Wire came to speak as a part UW-Milwaukee’s Distinguished Lecture Series.
The talk, held in the Wisconsin Room in the Union, was titled “The Audacity of Despair: The Decline of the American Empire and What’s in it for You…”. While Simon admitted the title was quite wordy he explained that the main point of the lecture was to talk about the power of the words freedom and liberty in current American culture, calling them “the bumper sticker of American politics”.
While freedom and liberty are looked at as the main talking points of American politics according to Simon, he claimed that without responsibility these concepts don’t hold much weight. “Freedom or liberty without responsibility is a recipe for a second class society,” said Simon.
Simon also touched on his next project, which is going to be about the racial issues of public housing in 1980‘s Yonkers.
As is usual with David Simon, he talked at length about the war on drugs and how he feels it is ruining America. He talked about the current rallying around marijuana legalization by the affluent and white, comparing it to the outcry against the draft during the Vietnam War. He made the claim that if marijuana is legalized it will be the end of these classes speaking out against the war on drugs. “If you’re not willing to fight for anything more than your weed, then you’re bullshit,” said Simon.
Simon admitted to having a cynical outlook on the world and claimed that “I would love for my argument to be wrong”.
Simon lectured for around 45 minutes before he turned it over to the audience for questions. Questions ranged from “The Wire” to his views on the upcoming presidential race. During the questions Simon revealed that he went to the same elementary school as Gbenga Akinnagbe, the actor who played Marlo Stanfield’s bodyguard and second-in-command Chris Partlow on “The Wire” and told a story about his interview with President Barack Obama.
Simon ended his lecture and stayed for a book signing after the event was over.