Strong opinions, weakly held

David Simon hits the Internet

David Simon is making the rounds, responding to commentary on The Wire. First, he stopped in at Matthew Yglesias’ blog to respond to the assertion that the show is overly pessimistic. Here’s a bit of what he had to say:

Does that mean The Wire is without humanist affection for its characters? Or that it doesn’t admire characters who act in a selfless or benign fashion? Camus rightly argues that to commit to a just cause against overwhelming odds is absurd. He further argues that not to commit is equally absurd. Only one choice, however, offers the slightest chance for dignity. And dignity matters.

Then he submitted an email to Slate’s ongoing dialog about the last season. His email to David Plotz was a bit testy:

That said, if you’ve ever taken an Introduction to Logic course, you know that Argumentum Ad Hominem, while a stock maneuver in most half-assed journalism and commentary, is the weakest sort of intellectual crutch. If you are serious in addressing something, then ideas matter, not the man. The Wire’s depiction of the multitude of problems facing newspapers and high-end journalism will either stand or fall on what happens on screen, not on the back-hallway debate over the past histories, opinions passions or peculiarities of those who create it. I’ve got a secret for you cats: Ed Burns has some pretty fierce feelings about the people he worked for and with in the Baltimore Police Department and the Baltimore Public School System. Do you really believe that insiders in the B.P.D. and school system can’t recognize certain specific references to reality in the previous 50 hours of television? Writers of fiction cannibalize their most meaningful experiences and then regurgitate them and hope for the best. There is nothing at all new to this.

The only difference between your discussion of seasons one through four and the current one seems to be that you did not encounter Ed Burns at a party. Next time we meet, remind me to talk about the Orioles parsimony when it comes to pitching or my complete collection of Professor Longhair albums in order that you might be able to address yourselves to the work itself, for better or for worse.



  1. Testy, fierce, opinionated, educated. The very model of a model major writer.

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