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The Case For Harm Reduction

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Drug War Sanity

 
It was to be expected. A famous person’s death by heroin overdose becomes a catalyst for today’s equivalent of the lynch mob. Leading the pack, Bill O’Reilly immediately and aggressively called for heads to roll. Soon, four people were arrested in Manhattan for allegedly selling the drugs to the Academy Award winning actor.

“Selling narcotics is a violent crime,” O’Reilly declared. He cited CNN’s Ashleigh Banville who that day said, “...the guy who gave an addict the drug that killed him deserves to go away for life.”

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[The haunting portrait of Philip Seymour Hoffman, at left, affects a daguerreotype plate circa the late 1800s. It was taken by photographer Victoria Will at the Sundance Film Festival two weeks prior to Hoffman's death on February 2nd.]

Hoffman’s tragic death immediately mobilized drug warmongers to beat their drums for the usual reaction of police, courts and prisons. Outcries like O'Reilly's were predictably vengeful and directed at demonizing drug dealers as disgusting pariahs who must be purged from the company of good, law-abiding citizens.

Fox News house liberal Alan Colmes stood up to O’Reilly’s vigorous bluster and responded rationally. He compared the selling of heroin that leads to an overdose like Hoffman's to the person selling a gun to a suicide.

“That’s crazy!” hollered O’Reilly.

But is it any more crazy than this: The New York Times just ran an editorial about a study on prescription testosterone drugs like Androgel, made by the huge pharmaceutical Abbvie. Use of Androgel doubles the odds of a heart attack for men over 65, and it triples the risk of an attack in middle-aged men with a history of heart disease. If instead of the problems he self-medicated for Hoffman had suffered from “low T” and had been obsessed enough with jacking up his masculinity to rub Androgel into his armpit, given his lifestyle, he could well have fallen prey to a fatal heart attack. Would these lynch-mob talking heads, then, be calling for the marketing chief of Abbvie to get life in prison?

No need to answer that. Everybody already knows the answer:

If your drug connection has an MD and your dealer is a legitimate pharmacy, you’re OK, since the source of the drug is on the New York Stock Exchange and makes an outrageous profit. If your free private enterprise entrepreneur is a self-made small businessperson providing substances that aren’t tested by the FDA “nanny state” and that don't come with a yard-long sheet of cautions, then we’re gonna call down some well-armed, high-testosterone nannies on that small businessperson. Presuming, as in this case, your corpse was once a celebrity beloved for providing insight into troubled souls. If you were a nobody, then it's a Darwinian plus. That’s how it works.

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Here's the link to prairie radio radical Mike Caddell's Radio Free Kansas program, where you can hear the podcast of the whole group interview that was conducted on Saturday, May 8.

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