Shorter Bertha Madras: “The government should just let junkies die, because almost dying might scare the fuck out of the ones that somehow manage to survive.”
This is just one more example of how bankrupt “conservative” right-wing ideology–a diarrhoeic blend of religious autoritarianism, ecconomic fuck-you libertarianism, and avowed rejection of objective reality–leads to morally abhorrent and pragmatically hairbrained policy.
The main story here is that there is an antidote drug called nalaxone that can immediately reverse what would otherwise be a fatal herion (or Oxycontin: Hi, Rush, you sick hypocritical bastard!) overdose. There are some local programs that distribute this very safe (it has close to no effect at all on people who have not taken heroin) and effective (it has probably saved many hundreds of lives) nasal spray (yes, nasal spray) directly to heroin-using communities, so that users can save their own and their friends’ lives.
Now we find out that former drug abuse scientist Bertha Madras, now right-wing hack appointee deputy director of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy, opposes the use of Narcan distribution in overdose-rescue programs. Her reasoning is two-fold:
(1) Drug users aren’t likely to be competent to deal with an overdose emergency. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I suspect junkies are pretty fucking good at administering drugs to themselves and their friends. They can probably figure out how to sniff some nasal spray, thereby immediately pulling themselves back from a potentially lethal overdose. This is the kind of shit junkies do every fucking day!
Now this may be totally motherfucking stupid, but it doesn’t even begin to reach the depths of moral depravity achieved by the right-wing hack appointee deputy director of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy.
(2) The rescue programs might take away the drug user’s motivation to get into detoxification and drug treatment. Translation: If the government lets junkies think it’s going to help them save their sorry asses from dying, they might not be as afraid of dying as the government thinks they should be. In other words: a policy that knowingly and deliberately accepts increased junkie deaths in return for possibly making junkies more afraid of ODing.
You know what the right-wing extremist Bush regime really, really needs that it obviously doesn’t have? It needs an office filled with nominally sane people to vet these kinds of policy statements before they are made. I mean seriously, these people can’t be assuming that normal American citizens are going to think that’s a good idea. Who is the “kill junkies” base that they are appealing to? (Well, actually we do know the answer to that.)
For much more analysis of the scientific and policy merits of this pernicious idea, please go to PhysioProf’s other blog, where PhysioProf’s boss there DrugMonkey–himself a well-respected drug abuse researcher–goes into a lot of fucking detail.
In addition to this main point, there is a subsidiary one to be made about the role of scientists in a right-wing anti-science anti-reality wackaloon batshit-crazy administration. This point was raised over there in comments to DrugMonkey’s post, where PhysioProf wondered why the fuck a supposedly serious drug-abuse scientist would sell her soul to a lame-duck sick-bastard like Bush. They’re gonna be clearing out her office in less than a year. Maybe she wants a nice wingnut-welfare position as Drug Policy Fellow at the Heritage Foundation afterwards?
This elicited an interesting response:
It’s a difficult issue, isn’t it? If good, dedicated scientists refuse to accept positions in anti-science administrations, then there is no hope at all that things will change for the better.
If the goal is ultimately achieving progressive science-related policy goals that endure for a long enough time to affect people’s lives for the better, this is about as wrong as it is possible to be.
It doesn’t help science-based policy to collaborate with anti-science governments. This is the kind of mistake Democrats have been making in relation to the Republicans for decades:
“If we don’t help the Republicans at least enough so they don’t completely destroy everything normal human beings hold dear, then we’ll get the fucking blame.” Then they collaborate just enough with the Republicans to keep things barely afloat, and the Republicans turn around and successfully blame the Democrats for the fact that things aren’t any better than just barely fingernail-hanging afloat.
The right-wing has been pulling this shit for decades, and the left just keeps falling for it. It’s like Lucy, Charlie Brown, and the goddamn football.
If you want to prevent right-wing ideologues from permanently fucking up everything you hold dear, then you will *not* collaborate with them anywhere: including on science policy. You will allow their fuckwittitude completely free rein–and full ownership by the right wing–and then voters will see how morally abhorrent and pragmatically harebrained their sick ideologies are, and use their votes to kick these bastards to the curb for a long, long rest in the gutter marinating in their own polluted policy sewage.