I was already thinking about the death of this tragic young woman when a Facebook friend posted the ABC News report of it to me. It had come up on Talking Points Memo when I had launched it minutes earlier. I responded (to the friend) with a complaint against ABC News, that had included in the first line of their report that Houston’s was a career ravaged by drugs. My vehemence rather startled my friend, and I felt a need to clarify to her, and now to the reader, that my discomfort with the whole topic had nothing to do with her, or the appearance of the report on my “Wall”.
What I meant to say was that Whitney Houston’s career, and her talent, were brilliant with or without the drugs. I understand drugs and drug use about as well as a person can and still be alive. I can think of only three purposes that justify the use of drugs: fun, medicine and self-knowledge. Too much use, regardless of which rationale is operating, produces negative (undesirable) effects that range from defeating the purpose of use, to user fatality. Millions have died as a result of our societies’ sending us, from the time we are old enough to pay attention, a barrage of mixed, hence unreliable, messages about substances available for us to ingest, licit or illicit.
We’re told these substances will make us well, sick, tired, energetic, happy, sad, hungry, appetite-less, ad nauseam. They will make our lives better, or at least endurable. We’ve all been living down this rabbit hole to which “authority” has relocated us for so long that we don’t know up from down any more, when it comes to substances we are offered for consumption. We know marketing well enough to wisely ignore most of the claims it trumpets, if we have more than half-a-wit.
So we trust those closest to us. “This drug hasn’t killed me. I feel great. Have some. Here’s a beer to wash it down” Once it has become a way of life, it’s very hard to change it, because to do so, we would have to push away the enablers in our life if we if we are to succeed at change. Few of us are ready to let our people go, even if it means saving our lives.
ABC News and the rest piss me off because, top to bottom, they lack either the will or the intellect or the fortitude, or any combination thereof, to dig deeply enough into our behavior, what’s behind it and what it does to us, to produce the kind of evidence that would empower people to demand change, and see it through to a day when real change has healed our ailing civic bodies.
Every one of these stupid, unnecessary deaths of young people, be they as dull as most, or as brilliant as Whitney Houston, might have been helped, if what was killing them hadn’t been criminalized, putting it beyond the perimeter of intelligent, sympathetic scrutiny by ABC News and their ilk. Now, like carrion-eaters, they return to feast on Whitney Houston’s sad remains and to capitalize on her tragedy by “reporting” it in a moralistic tone.