Cinema Owls: The Fight For The Soul Of Seattle

Eric Johnson KOMO The Fight For The Soul of Seattle Full Video: Via Youtube

As an assignment for my law class, I watched the documentary “The Fight for the Soul of Seattle”. It was produced by Komo News and is addressing the homelessness and opioids crisis that are overtaking the streets of Seattle.

I felt this documentary had many flaws, one being inconsistent messaging due to the all over the place tone and the lack of flow in the story thanks to poor planning.

At the beginning of the documentary, the filmmakers seemed to be pushing a ‘tough on crime’, pro policing, anti welfare stance, which I strong disagree with. While I can admit the current “laissez-faire” approach is not working by using the rest of the USA as a metric, we can conclude that being “tough on crime” is not effective either.

77% of people sent to prison in the USA for drug crimes will reoffend within five years of release, the ‘I got clean in prison’ stories they give a platform to in this show are anecdotal at best, misleading at worst. The portrayal of the police as “powerless” in this documentary is an insult to minority groups, in particular people of color that have been prejudiced against, harassed or even killed by police force, with little repercussions. This documentary also demonizes drug users, paints them as violent crazies that we should all be afraid of. Their actions are regarded as the cause of the problem, not the effect.


However amidst all the Republican talking points about out of control Leftists cities, there was one statement I agreed with.


“This is not compassion.”

Neither handing mandatory minimums for possession nor leaving adducts on the street is compassion, but their is a third option. Invest in rehab programs we know to be effective instead of methods we seen to be failures.

Being for defunding the police does not mean you are for eliminating avenues for recovery, leaving addicts alone to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Money diverted from the police amoury would go towards programs  like the Hope Haven center, introduced after the massive tonal shift about an hour into the program. A support network, reduced access to narcotics has been proven time and time again to be the only way to treat addiction. We must make these services accessible to lower income addicts, the ones who most need our support and compassion. 


The final thirty minutes of the documentary rightly criticize the apathy of the Seattle City Council and the need for a new way of doing. I was really touched when the Republican member of the legislature started talking about his son who does heroin in an impassioned speech about the need for a new way of helping these drug addicts. He sees past their violent actions as effects of drugs problems which are often coping mechanisms of mental health issues. This is compassion. 


Compassion is understanding the situation this human being in front of you is in, and doing your absolute best to help them become a happy and contributing member of society again. Handing down jail sentences is not compassionate, it is a lazy way of pushing our world’s problems away. But like a rubber ball rebounding on a cement wall,  these problems will always come back due to forces beyond our control. The only way to get the ball beyond that wall, is to pick it up and walk that ball around. It may be more time consuming and may be more expensive, but we must ask ourselves, what is the purpose of government? Is it to throw and catch balls against walls until they give up and discard them angrily on the floor, or to use its resources to help the less fortunate among us, until we can tear that wall down.