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HOW digital-age CHICAGO MADE ITSELF VIOLENT during its TV age (1960's-1980's)

in a word


Like all American cities, Chicago made the fatal error of mistaking youth-victimizing digital-age violence for adult-centered industrial-age violence. 


This error caused the city to rely exclusively on its industrial age law enforcement resources in addressing an entirely new and digital age kind of violence arising from heavily armed, drug-dealing, youth-victimizing street gangs.

The threefold cure for digital age violence would prove to be in

  • The judicious use of police force

  • The citywide use of public health resources

  • Interactive uses of Chicago's digital age public communications system - its public and commercial media - dedicated to making all Chicagons responsible for maintaining public safety

in detail

Chicago made itself violent in the 1960's by addressing the unprecedented, TV-age violence of its heavily armed, drug dealing, youth-victimizing street gangs in four counterproductive ways.:

  • The Problem Itself No one saw how utterly Chicago's 1960's information-age street gang violence differed from its 1920's industrial-age mob gang violence.  

    • ​The illegal digital age product was not the alcohol of Chicago's industrial age, it was illicit drugs, mostly cannabis (which is now legal). In 1992, Mayor Richard M. Daley spoke to a group of Chicago School Student Leaders about the significance of this distinction.  

    • The market for cannabis was part of a global youth revolution fueled by seismic cultural and economic forces responsible for the global generation gap ("never trust anyone over 30") that has divided every generation since the 1960's.

    • The victims and perpetrators of Chicago's drug scene and violence were mostly disadvantaged young people, often in their early teens, who were recruited by adults within the city's poorest neighborhoods.

  • Law Enforcement. Chicago used its ADULT CENTERED industrial-age law enforcement resources (police, courts, prisons) to address its YOUTH VICTIMIZING information-age violence.

    • Chicago addressed the youth violence of its youth-victimizing street gangs much as it had addressed the adult criminal violence of its industrial age. It tasked its police, courts and prisons with the problem. But police were soon overwhelmed by the vast number of poor young people who were willing to risk their lives to make money from insatiable public demand for mind-altering drugs made illegal by the ill-conceived War on Drugs. 

  • Public Communications System  With the advent of network Television and local TV networks, Chicago had at its disposal a dynamic medium with ample power to create ongoing, problem-solving public forums capable of making allies of all Chicagons - police, citizens of all ages (especially at-risk youth) and City Hall - in a citywide search for best solutions to the city's gang-drug-violence problems.

    • ​Instead, years and then decades of sensationalized "crime story" coverage of violence on local TV newscasts have worked to create the climate of fear and alienation that pervades Chicago today.  

  • City Hall Invariably unkept mayoral campaign promises to fix, reduce, curb, curtail or crack down Chicago's violence would cause Chicagoans to lose all faith in City Hall and its polices of violence reduction. City Hall's top-down, police-centered responses to violence excluded the bottom-up input of citizens and neighborhood groups in Chicago's struggle to address violence effectively. The one (and promising) advent of community policing in the late 1990's - Chicago's Community Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) - gave voice to citizen input at the neighborhood level. But lacking a permanent home in Chicago's mainstream media, these bottom-up voices and CAPS itself have been marginalized from Chicago's top-down political discourse. 

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