The title is a quote from Sherlock Holmes (who was a cocaine addict not a heroin addict) in the Hound of the Baskervilles.
As is generally my process I waited a little bit before I wrote about this editorial in last week’s Flier. As the ideas bounced around in my head though I got angrier, not calmer. The editorial is discussing the $50,000 grant given to Howard County Department of Corrections by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention to combat heroin addiction. If you want more you can read about it in this article.
Before I start, I want to say off the bat that my beef is with the editorial and not the grant. I will cover that later but I want to say that loud and clear. So let me start with the silly/stupid stuff that irritates me about the editorial.
“Where do you get heroin? Go to a big city ghetto, find a dark alley, do the special knock on a steel door and ask for Omar. Slide your money under the door and packets of heroin slide back.”
“Howard, one of the most prosperous counties in the nation, might seem to be immune to a scourge that is associated with blight and urban poverty, as seen in the TV mini-series ‘The Wire.’”
Any self respecting Baltimore area resident knows that Omar wasn’t a dealer but a stick up man (the ole rip and run) and that The Wire was not a mini series. Of course, that’s not the heart of my problem with the editorial but damn it’s kind of annoying. One last block quote before I get into the heart of my problem with this editorial.
“The cynical might draw conclusions about smack being an old plague in the minority ghettos, but alarm bells are now going off after it has begun to vex white suburbia. With that, at least, comes new approaches based on prevention, education and treatment instead of incarceration.”
It really is hard to put into words how horrible and racist this is, feeding on old and wildly outdated stereotype about heroin use. More to the point though, the fact that the editorial actually said “alarm bells are now going off after it has begun to vex white suburbia. With that, at least, comes new approaches based on prevention, education and treatment instead of incarceration.” In other words now that rich white people use heroin maybe we shouldn’t throw addicts in jail. I don’t disagree with the statement just that the authors felt comfortable writing it without acknowledging how monumentally fucked  up it is that it’s true.
Finally, although it doesn’t jibe with the rest of my points, the author’s understanding of basic math is suspect. “But a growing trend here is clear. Last year, the county recorded 18 non-fatal overdoses. So far this year, the number is 14.” 18 in a year is 1.5 a month and 14 on October 14 is roughly 1.47 a month. That’s not exactly a clear trend.
Let me be clear, I think this grant is good news. I think the work done before the grant and now with the grant is fantastic and likely a model. Personally, I am also happy that drug education in Howard County can look to the real issues and use real science backed solutions as opposed to the HC Drug Free “Say no to drugs” abstinence-only style waste of resources that have been front and center in the very recent past.
 I certainly debated the use of this word, however in the end decided that there is simply no other word in the English language that successfully illustrated the point.