Avoiding my avoidance drug of choice

And now for a post I really REALLY don't want to write.

M. Simon's post about Katie Granju's son Henry gave me the willies. Seriously, I was having blog nightmares last night. (That is the truth.) It's like, our two approaches are so diametrically different that it's almost a Yin/Yang situation. I am indirect, introverted, and circumspect, while he is direct, extroverted, and zeroes right in on problems.

I wrote a post yesterday about the emotional mindset that fuels lawsuits and leads to prohibition, and I never mentioned Katie Granju, who is calling for escalating the war on drugs because her son died. I figured, why write something that might antagonize a grieving mother? I also thought that there would be no way to ever hope to persuade her, so why bother? Besides, I had already made what I thought as clear as I could without being confrontational in an earlier post, so yesterday I just wrote a post on the general topic. Meanwhile, I sent Simon some links -- one to a post in which Katie expressed a desire to sue a methadone clinic because her son overdosed on methadone she claims was diverted from the clinic, another to a methadone lawsuit specialist, and another to an organization devoted to banning methadone. Methadone being one of the few treatments available to addicts, I think calls for crackdowns and prohibition would increase human suffering, and would only worsen the drug problem.

And while I am in logical nerd mode, I might as well throw in that it is simply wrong to blame methadone clinics for methadone overdoses. The vast majority of overdoses involving methadone do not involve methadone diverted from clinics, and most deaths involve combinations of methadone with other drugs (especially tranquilizers and antidepressants such as the ubiquitous SSRIs, which can dramatically increase methadone levels in the body.) So, one might ask, why is methadone being singled out as the demon drug of choice? Because the latter is "bad" and associated with "junkies," while "nice" drugs like SSRIs are taken by as many as 67 million respectable Americans?

However, as I said in a comment to Simon's post, I realize that fact or logic based arguments are likely lost on a grieving mom like Katie and probably a waste of time with people who are driven by emotion:

Thanks for the link, and for daring to go where I didn't! I've been agonizing over whether it would be possible to persuade Katie Granju that further crackdowns in the war on drugs will only increase (and not decrease) human suffering, but a more cynical friend advised me that all arguments would be hopeless.

If he is right, that means that the argument is not with her, but with those who would potentially follow her. I worry that those are persuaded by emotional arguments will not be swayed by rational arguments, and vice versa.

This reminds me of the gun control debate. I have friends who lost close relatives to suicide by gun, and I do not debate the gun issue with them because it is a waste of time. And just as you do not tell a grieving mom that "GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE, PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE," nor would you make similar human-agency-type arguments about drugs to a mom who lost her son to drugs.* Not only are these arguments lost on them, but all debates tend to be.

Worse, they can be interpreted as cruel, callused, and insensitive. And in addition to being an introvert, I tend to be a bleeding heart.

So I'm just stuck with this feeling that no arguments I could make could ever hope to persuade emotion-driven thinkers. They might just exacerbate the problem.

I admire Simon for trying, though, and I am so lucky to have as a co-blogger someone who dares to go where I don't.

I write posts like the one I wrote yesterday to escape what eats at me. In a weird irony, I may be using this blog as a drug to help me avoid reality. An avoidance drug?

Perhaps I need help. If so, I seem to have gotten it from M. Simon.

*Interesting how that phrase just slipped out of my mouth fingers. Would I ever say that a mom "lost her son to guns?" I don't think so. Perhaps I have been unwittingly influenced by drug war hyperbole.

posted by Eric on 03.13.11 at 11:40 AM










Comments

I'm lucky to have worked in engineering so long. First we tend to verify our truths. And second is that every trade off is as explicit as possible.

Things like: if I raise the weight of an aircraft 1 oz it will cost this much fuel per year and reduce failure probability by Y and a human life (on average) is worth X. Is the improvement worth it?

We don't have any metrics like that for our social programs as they actually function. So it is all opinion.

In my opinion when all you have is opinion you should have lots of them. Not that I expect to sway Katie. But I might snag a few of her readers.

BTW one thing engineers have going for them is that they are not noted for their social skills. They are liable to speak their minds with no thought for the social graces.

M. Simon   ·  March 13, 2011 6:18 PM

I've been reading blogs for 10 years, writing them for seven.

It's been an education for me, to say the least.

Those who know me apart from words on the screen generally describe me as kind, funny, sweet.

Those who know me primarily from my writing on the Web have called me everything from Mr. Spock (in the least flattering sense) to "contrarian", but most often fall back on those old standbys--"a--hole" and "pain in the ---".

I am a logical, analytical thinker. In the real world the folks like me are who people go to with their problems, because we are the ones who use our temperaments to become doctors, lawyers, detectives, engineers, scientists and librarians. We are systematic thinkers who relish looking at a problem from all angles to arrive at the most workable solution.

In the early days of blogging most bloggers were of the same ilk. We gravitated toward this medium because it was a place to analyze problems and situations with others who tended to look at the world in like fashion.

Then the emotional thinkers began to arrive in droves. I blame Dooce. Mothers heard about a way they could get paid to talk about being mommies and that side of the blogosphere exploded. Nowadays its very difficult to maintain an analytical presence in blogging, especially around a blogstorm that is so clearly the property of the emotional side of the universe.

I've been following this whole thing closely from the beginning, because I know that there will be (as indeed there have already been several) cries for stricter drug controls. As a proponent of marijuana legalization and a chronic pain patient under the care of respected physicians at Vanderbilt University I get to be the lone voice of libertarian philosophy.

It isn't fun. But I figure, hey. We can't let emotion continually drown out logic in public discourse. That tends to be the historical foundation of fascist regimes.

The older I get the more I think I'd rather be known for standing against fascism than for being cuddly.

Katherine Coble   ·  March 13, 2011 11:08 PM

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