Hold corporate drug pushers responsible for overdose deaths


JUL 1, 2016

Kudos to Essex County Coroner Frank Whitelaw, who recently showed great courage and integrity by graphically proclaiming our opioid problem to be “reality.”

“And the best way for people to know just how big of a deal this is to swat them right in the face with it,” he said.

This is a version of “tough love” or “scared straight,” the practice of showing bloody photos of car crash victims to alert people that such a terrible reality can encroach on them suddenly and without recourse.

And the opposite of kudos to various media outlets that try to keep a “family friendly” atmosphere that is only meant to protect people from ugly reality. In fact, having read this article about the heroic efforts of Mr. Whitelaw, I was struck dumfounded by the fact that 26 local people have died as a result of opioid overdoses during the past four years, yet I had never heard about this nor read the names of the victims, which in other venues carries a guilty allure.

This kind of somnambulance is the replay of another set of tragic circumstances from about 20 years ago, when the media breathlessly reported about a spate of teenage suicides in which adolescents (always boys) were found hanged to death by a device meant to enhance their masturbatory experiences, but this last fact was left out of the reports by squeamish coroners and editors who apparently believed that remaining silent about the actual cause of death was somehow a public service.

As a result, many boys never learned about specific dangers of the practice and so died in a way that was manifestly accidental but was treated by the authorities as a suicide in order to avoid familial embarrassment at the true cause. For some reason, the families found a suicide to be more socially acceptable than a death with semi-sexual overtones, a youthful experimentation gone terribly awry.

Indeed, the Tri-Lakes has tried in the past to convince kids to stay away from drugs with ridiculous programs, such as the 1970s assemblies at Lake Placid High School that presented a film of rock star Sonny Bono smoking a joint and then getting accosted by a monstrous image in his bathroom mirror, which elicited more guffaws than gasps from the gathered students.

A few weeks later, the principal invited a speaker from Western Islands, publishers for the John Birch Society, who proceeded to enthrall and enlighten the young scholars with “inside” knowledge that the KGB was behind the drug epidemic. According to him, the commies of the Soviet Union were running and profiting enormously from the illegal drug trade (cutting in Fidel Castro for a piece of the action, of course) while building on the work of the Russian psychologist Pavlov, who stimulated drooling in dogs who were trained to respond to a bell that would deliver a tasty treat. However, when the dog performed the required action but the treat was withheld, the dog acted confused and became increasingly agitated and desperate for the treat.

With this method, the KGB intended to destroy American society from within by suddenly cutting off the supply of drugs to the addicts but maintaining the stimulus that they heard in the hidden lyrics of rock songs (also controlled by the KGB), causing young addicts, unable to get their “fix,” to react violently in frantic search for their precious drugs and thus tear society asunder.

Luckily for us, the Soviet Union collapsed before any harm could occur.

(Back in the ’70s, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise was targeted by the Birchers because its publisher was a “subversive” American diplomat who was also a member of that secret communist front, the Council on Foreign Relations.)

Well, history proves that it wasn’t the communists who were trying to enslave us via addiction; the true villain in that regard is Wall Street and the greedy corporate state.

One of the first blatant attempts to accomplish this atrocity happened during the early ’70s, when a pharmaceutical company manufactured quaaludes for the masses. This sleeping pill was hugely popular, and doctors wrote millions of prescriptions for it.

The company was rolling in dough and was thrilled to have a single customer that purchased as many quaaludes as doctors prescribed to all Americans over an entire year. Wall Street conveniently ignored this suspicious fact, and thousands of Americans overdosed. One lone corner drug store literally sold as many quaaludes as ALL the drug stores in America combined from its strategic location in Tijuana, a few feet south of California. And because of this profit, not a single corporate executive or director was willing to do a thing about the smuggling situation that earned them big bucks. But hey, why shouldn’t a few thousand overdose deaths add to the corporate bottom line?

Today, the pharmaceutical industry is raking in even greater profits and killing many more people with its current glittering treasure trove of painkillers, soporifics, tranquilizers and assorted expensive salves for neurotics, obeying the letter but not the spirit of the law. (This law was written by lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry and paid for with political contributions.) And now an area containing barely 17,000 souls has been found to have suffered 26 overdose deaths in just a few years.

The true drug problem is found in the overreaction by society and especially law enforcement, and in the hypocrisy of those in power that allows our allies in Afghanistan to grow most of the opium for the world’s supply of heroin.

The War on Drugs is hugely expensive and predicated on neo-fascist urban militarism against rugged capitalist smugglers and dealers, and used as an excuse by racist cops to round up and imprison millions of blacks, Hispanics and poor whites who are tiny, bitty players in the drug economy and who do not have rich parents who can keep them out of prison with first-class defense lawyers and stints at a cushy rehab at the expense of daddy’s health insurance plan.

Rick Gombas lives in Saranac Lake.