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Monday, January 4, 2010

Mr Smith's Defense

State Representative Ken Smith wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in the January 3rd edition of the Sunday Times. You can link to it here.

Now what I'd like to do is go through the letter line but line, but pasting it here would run afoul of my friends at the Times, so that's out of the question. Instead I'll do my best to summarize what I read in Representative Smith's letter [with a few editorial comments by me in brackets]:
  1. Addiction is bad.
  2. Representative Smith knows how to look up "addiction" in Wikipedia.
  3. Facilities like Marworth are great. [Note that not everyone can afford a place like Marworth, despite how fine it is.]
  4. Methadone clinics are bad because some in the community fear them. [Note that some in the community probably also fear lots of things...minorities...fluoridated drinking water...childhood vaccinations...are all of these things bad too?]
  5. Methadone clinics are bad because they are "for profit centers without a means to an end". [Is every for-profit health care concern bad or just these? Also, Representative Smith is implying that these centers exist to keep people addicted to Methadone, without providing any evidence that this is actually true.]
  6. Doctor (I mean Representative) Smith believes in "treatment to abstinence". [This sounds nice...and hell, who wouldn't disagree with abstinence as being the solution to bad behavior? The problem is that Doctor (I mean Representative) Smith seems to say that Methadone isn't a valid form of treatment, but yet I doubt he actually knows anything about it.]
  7. Representative Smith has had family and friends who suffered from addiction. [Call me crazy, but how many of those family and friends had the means to take advantage of a place like Marworth? Now how many heroin addicts have access to the same types of resources? That's part of the issue here: Not everyone fits into the neat little world of "just say no" that Representative Smith outlines in his letter. Addiction is a dirty, complicated business. It doesn't fit into nice little models of behavior. I recommend that Representative Smith read Eric Clapton's autobiography for a bit more insight into the issue. Better yet, actually visit a few Methadone clinics before writing them off as a form of treatment.]
  8. Representative Smith will not stop fighting the Methadone clinic. People in Dunmore don't want it in their backyard.
  9. Bad people come to Methadone clinics...bad people who will put the residents of Dunmore "at risk".
  10. Representative Smith is NOT pandering for votes. He is just opposing a medical treatment facility because...well...people don't want it in their neighborhood. [Pandering is pandering is pandering. Besides, better to be in front of an issue like this than to be behind in another taxes.]

Rather than diffusing the issue, it's my opinion that Representative Smith actually made matters worse in his letter. His letter screams pandering. What's more, his attempt to disguise his opposition to a Methadone clinic as some form of compassion is derailed by his inability to actually articulate any kind of alternative, other than "just say no". Yes, study is needed: Representative Smith should thoughtfully study Heroin addiction and the role of Methadone BEFORE he goes proposing any kind of moratorium.

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