Shhh! We Don't Discuss the Drug Biz Here

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Criminologist John Hagedorn of the University of Illinois at Chicago fully expected his new study on the inner-city drug trade would provoke debate. The main contention, based on extensive research in two poor Milwaukee neighborhoods, is that dealers should be regarded as "innovative" and "entrepreneurial" and that their "work" is driven by economics, not immorality. But Milwaukee mayor John Norquist has essentially put the kibosh on any substantive discussion of the professor's controversial ideas among city officials and policymakers by calling the report "twisted" and the product of "drug-addled minds." Though Hagedorn figured critics would try to label him as soft on crime, he was initially shocked by the ferocity of Norquist's attack. He explained to TIME that his intention was to show that "we can't solve the drug problem without recognizing its economic dimensions." Indeed, it is difficult to dismiss the report as simply the work of an ivory-tower leftist apologist. Its publisher? The conservative Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.