Drug dealers are no heroes

Wiley A. Hall 3rd

January 14, 1992|By Wiley A. Hall 3rd

Let's be very clear about this: Big-time drug dealers ain't so smart.

In fact, they're kinda dumb. They're like the modern-day equivalent of the village idiot.

Big-time drug dealers are dangerous, I admit. But they're so dangerous precisely because they're so stupid.

I bet you've never heard anyone say this before and that's why it needed to be said.

Every time law enforcement officials take down a drug dealer they inadvertently pump him up -- they wax poetic about his intelligence and ruthlessness, the sophistication of his organization, the millions of dollars he raked in, and the high-stepping lifestyle he enjoyed.

In short, they credit him with all of the attributes we admire in our society.

The case of Linwood R. "Rudy" Williams is a perfect example of what I mean. Williams is the 36-year-old heroin dealer who was sentenced in federal court last week to life without parole plus 130 years.

Judge Frank A. Kaufman walloped Williams with the maximum possible sentence after his conviction on drug-related charges and possession of firearms.

But the judge also added, "The pity of it all is that Mr. Linwood Rudolph Williams has tremendous ability. He has tremendous brain power, organizational ability, and he has charisma. But he has used it, unfortunately, all in the wrong way."

One federal prosecutor compared Williams to a corporate executive, while drug investigators have likened him to a "folk hero." A local writer even found parallels between Williams and Shakespeare's tragic villain, King Richard III.

But the painful truth is that you rarely hear federal investigators, prosecutors, and judges -- or anyone else for that matter -- applauding the intelligence and charisma of a black urban youth except for those being carted off to prison.

When I was a teen-ager, black militants used to spread the same nonsense -- that the "brothers" dealing drugs were the true revolutionaries because they refused to play by society's rules.

Social workers would add that pushers, given the advantages of a middle-class upbringing, might be the ones with the intelligence and drive to propel them to the top of the corporate world.

But it was bull then, and it is bull now.

The truth is, if Williams had had the brains and guts to make it in the legitimate world, he would have.

It takes more courage to attend an underfunded, overcrowded city school than it does to hang out on the streets. It takes more brains to recognize the great potential of an education than it does to organize other dimwits into a drug ring that is doomed to fail.

Animals have been known to gnaw their leg off to escape a trap. Humans analyze and plan and devise less self-destructive means to escape. Metaphorically speaking, Williams was an animal.

Every day, thousands of young men and women here escape the trap of their environment, even though they come from underprivileged households and attended underfunded school systems.

They find themselves in hostile, alien work environments, yet they compete successfully with men and women who have enjoyed the nurturing comforts of a middle-class lifestyle. And they do so in a sterile atmosphere that seems incapable of recognizing their accomplishments.

They are the ones with intelligence and drive.

Sources tell me, by the way, that Williams had at least three small children by two women. Two of his sons, ages 4 and 6, reportedly were in court last week when a federal judge ensured that Williams will never again be free.

It is doubtful Williams has provided for his sons' futures, especially after the federal government finishes seizing his assets. And for all of his high-flying lifestyle, Williams has set a very poor model to his sons for long-term survival.

This may be a cold way of looking at the issue, but the odds are against Williams' bloodline surviving even another generation, and he has only himself to blame.

Some people take the Darwinian view that the first order of life is to ensure its immortality by bearing young and providing for their future.

But Williams has ensured his own extinction.

That's not intelligent; that is dumb. Dinosaur dumb.

Think of it as evolution in action.

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