Whitney Houston is dead at 48 due to a self-administered overdose of warm, soapy water; to which she was addicted. It is unclear when she set off down this path. Many observers blame her widower, Bobby Brown, saying that before he came along Whitney took showers, ran through the car wash or just re-applied her hairspray. What cannot be denied is that hers was a daily habit involving gallon upon gallon of the substance she clearly felt was so sweet and embracing but wound up taking her precious life at a tender age. There has been some confusion and dissembling. It should be obvious why Big Bath would be interested in diverting attention from their own intoxicating wares and onto the drugs prescribed for Ms Houston by her doctors or perhaps onto those medicinal preparations from her herbalists. These monopolist robber-barons are already in a stink owing to the epidemic of bath-salts snorting among teens. They fear that their decades…. nay, CENTURIES of sloshing murderous tubs and fragrances onto a hapless humanity (at a tidy profit) might finally come to an end.
Hopefully this will be so. More current numbers seem not to be available but in 2000 there were nearly 400 deaths due to bathing, most of them children! How have we let this menace continue for so long? Many responsible commentators are asking that question. One of the foremost is well-known statistician and advocate for the dead, Jamie Lee Curtis. Sporting a degree from John Carpenter University, and a spotless Hollywood pedigree, Doctor Curtis has the cure for what ails us. All of it.
“There are millions of people in the world addicted to something. Food, shopping, porn, alcohol, prescription drugs and illegal drugs…”
Indeed there are. The levels of food addiction here at home and abroad are truly shocking; at least in the double-digits percentage-wise. Shopping addictions are the silent epidemic revealed only in rustling bags and elevated credit card charges. Alcohol is quite the scourge as the doctor informs us. If there were any malady that could inspire a national program of banishment one would think it would be alcohol, John Barleycorn being the second-oldest blight of man (after food), but no. Let this be the starting clarion on Action Against Alcohol at all levels of government and society. We can call it Proscription. Or something. Finally we get to the nub; drugs, of one sort or another.
How we define “drugs” is a murk. Left out of Dr Curtis’ list of horribles is tobacco. Odd, since that weed plausibly killed her father though booze and coke are more officially blamed. What and whom are specifically absolved of blame?
“It is not fame’s fault. It is no one’s fault.”
The Hollywood BS factory is immediately cleared but then so is the “victim” and everybody else. No one is to blame but EVERYONE is responsible. “Addiction” hovers over even the infant’s bed, besotted as the little imp might be with his pacifier and diaper cream. “Addiction” takes on a spectral, malignant and implacable form, much like Michael Myers.
It is a disease and like cancer, diabetes and depression, it is everywhere. Alcoholism and addiction is ever present and it wants you dead.
Setting aside depression as a prime facet of addiction itself, it is curious and revealing that Dr Curtis uses cancer and diabetes as her models. It is always the “cure for cancer” that is held out as the object of all charity and research. It is cancer that justifies the control scheme used for tobacco and it is cancer that is the symptom when no other symptoms can be found. Yes, cancer is always with us but it could be mitigated mightily by, say, eliminating cigarettes from public consumption. Likewise diabetes is caused, or said to be caused by the easy availability of sugar, especially to children. A control of diabetes and obesity (another murk) is what sparked the recent conversion of Mars Inc. into Jenny Craig, which is to their liking as Big Candy now gets to reduce their ingredient costs without complaints from their actual customers. The doctor’s list seems to imply that a drug is anything that you do, consume or perhaps cogitate over. Is an addiction to salacious memories or fantasies distinguishable from an “addiction” to pornography? Anything can be “addicting” therefore everything is a drug. Except coffee, that’s a miracle!
We might need a new taxonomy. I recall a Michael Cain movie where he was aboard a ship, trying to explain the little plastic squares of white powder to a crew of primitive pirates. “Oh that? That’s cocaine.”
“It’s a drug.”
“A drug? What does it cure?”
And with a moment’s thought Cain replies, “Indecision.”
But cocaine IS a drug. What does it cure? Pain.
Again the doctor’s credentials are impeccable. She became entranced by legal painkillers after a peculiarly arduous eye-job though she blatantly jumped over into illegality by stealing drugs prescribed for her sister who whined of phantom pain from fractured bones. All Curtis’ drugs or other vices were liberally lubricated with alcohol. While she doesn’t mention cocaine consumption here, we know of her fondness for it from other sources. All this self-dosing was for legitimate pain mitigation, also, as the story says, to get high and to combat loneliness.
What is the doctor ordering? The illegal drugs are already illegal and the penalties severe, if unevenly applied. Perhaps she wishes that law enforcement had come up her circular drive, knocked down her doors with rams and carted her off as they do for many a user and trafficker in cocaine, heroin or oxycontins across her LA stomping grounds. There. There goes another storm door off the hinges. Would Dr Curtis prefer that she had been arrested, flex-cuffed, tased, fingerprinted and arraigned? That she had made bail and then plead guilty to a lesser charge for court-ordered supervision? We know she would not subject herself to the ordinary round of public “treatment” for addiction or she would have done it. Would she want it for her beloved brother? Or father?
Or even Lindsay Lohan?
Her record is unblemished by any snitching or any sort of discipline imposed by her on others or on herself. An up-tempo version of the Drug War is no folk-remedy in Hollywood so we can assume Dr Curtis does not mean, make more arrests, incarcerate the addicts longer and under more severe conditions. Certainly she is not saying that the sentencing norms in Compton should be reproduced in Beverly Hills. On close reading, she doesn’t seem to be saying anything at all, although she names The Administration the most likely agent for Real Change. Now, we are onto something. Dr Curtis is no medical doctor but a sociologist, perhaps an epidemiologist and she wants Addiction, like cancer, diabetes, obesity, depression, gonorrhea, shyness, bulimia and nerdism to be treated as a public health issue, meaning subject to medical coverage.
The infinite nature of such a project, we have addressed but there could be a way to introduce a true health-issue based philosophy to our treatment of the drugs predicament that would be dramatically better than the system we have or that a Dr Curtis might impose. First thing is to address first principles. The government, high or low, has no standing to prohibit drug possession, production, traffic or use. None. But that is not the world we are living in. Our society and reality is bifurcated. We have the wealthier, whiter, recreational drug culture and we have the poorer, blacker and vocational drug culture. One is allowed their drug use, even to the point of self-harm, delusion, violence, theft or public lewdity so long as they pay lip service, community service and legal services. Another is allowed their drug use so long as they occasionally disgorge a patsy, often the only man left with no one to betray, who will be sentenced to a stretch that even malice murderers rarely serve. Both now are to be brought into the public health system, treated and hopefully sent out into the world to work and not to re-offend. The high-class drug offender is already in this situation. The idea is to make the treatment of movie-bigwigs the norm, something that is desirable if only because it means less lives of men spent in lockdown. Yes, many many lives of men.
Now, to apply our principles. All criminal drug laws are struck down as Unconstitutional. The FDA will concern itself with advertising claims and the dose safety of patented drugs; their purity and consistency. That is it. The efficacy of any prescribed drug will be a matter of competitive, open medical testing, including non-clinical but voluntary use for off-label purposes; meaning for maladies they were not conceived to treat. If that sounds like Frankenstein in the pediatric ward, you should know that this is the way it was until recently. Any drug approved for market sale could be prescribed by any physician for any use, the only limiting factors being the dose safety and medical liability. Only recently and still, not fully, has the FDA been opposing off-label use. Now the medical apparatus declines to pay for those uses but they have yet to be banned and many people with desperate medical conditions are glad it is so, since they would die without such innovations. The pharmacist’s position in our lives will scarcely be effected. They will still dispense medicinal drugs by doctor’s note, as it has been. But once legally in the hands of an end user no criminal penalty will apply to any other consensual use whatever. If this seems a chaotic prospect to you, imagine instead a regime where every pill is accounted for under penalty of imprisonment either for the dispenser or the consumer for that is the state of the law today, awaiting only the technology to enforce it.
So we make the distinction between medicinal or patented drugs and, let us call them, agricultural drugs. Dr Curtis does not even distinguish abusive self-knowledge from the plagues of addiction but we shall. What is an agricultural drug? It is one that grows out of the ground, whether with coaxing or without. Again, this is a return to a time not long ago when opiates and other preparations were available from any corner store. Those who gaze on such a situation with horror should understand that all these prohibitions “for your own good”, are also infinity traps since the perfection of “your own good” is never realized. Recent studies reveal that black gentlemen have superior longevity and health outcomes in prison than out. For Your Own Goodism would imply a national round-up is in order so we know it is an absurdity even before we consider that the most troublesome of drugs, tobacco and booze, ARE available at every corner store and that stern prohibitions of agricultural drugs would have to include nutmeg, cinnamon, coffee and many another leaf or powder in your possession. Agricultural produce must all be treated equally; inspected for cleanliness and integrity but otherwise available without impediment.
This would be Whitney’s Law, not because she would advocate it but because she lived it due to her wealth and notoriety. We all deserve the same opportunities. But she killed herself with her opportunities! Indeed she did and indeed many of us will whether skateboarding or tripping in the tub but, as Whitney demonstrates, that can happen now. Few admit something everyone knows, Whitney was in a tiny minority. No, not black chicks with green eyes. Those were contacts. Whitney was one of that tiny minority to reveal serious issues with her use of any substance or indulgence of any vice. Dr Curtis reminds us of the poor shopaholic but the shops are full every day. Is that rampant shopaholism? Of course not. It is the same with patent and agricultural drugs as it is true with alcohol, pornography or self-righteous sermonizing in that vast numbers of people indulge and yet a tiny fraction is ever treated, demonstrably needs treatment or is ever afoul of the law. Among this small cohort, the vast majority who “quit” or otherwise deal with their consumption habits do it “cold turkey” as they say. This includes even those slaves to the most addicting substance: tobacco. No patch, no nothin’. They just stop. Crazy. So rather than inflict a coercive regime that can only benefit a tiny few at a great expense to liberty and public accounts, instead let’s have an expansion or just more energetic application of the laws of civil commitment even to the point of commuting the sentences of already imprisoned persons in great numbers. Neither Whitney nor Bobby nor the Curtis Clan would want any of their addicts thrown in the slam but they might commit that spouse, child or parent to confinement and treatment as a danger to themselves or others. There would be public AND private facilities, some charities. The judge would intervene on a complaint from kin or the State that would not lay a criminal conviction; something that removes the offender from honest employment ever after if he is less than a stage sensation. Those who saw Whitney destroying herself could have done something about it. Now, that would mean Bobby Brown would have to be the adult in the room, a prospect that would be terrifying if not so unlikely, but the alternative is to invite the State to be that adult with all its myopia, contempt and cruel apathy. And if you are going to do THAT, might as well outlaw bathtubs. They are deadly.