Do Not Resuscitate: October 2007: Archives

October 28, 2007

Sad Death Explains Our Surrender To Homogeneity? genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Happy Remembrances & Six Degrees of Speculation

They All Looked Just The Same

Robin Prosser was fifty years old when she ended her life. By all accounts her life was filled with debilitating pain...first the physical pain of an "immunosuppresive disorder" and then the emotional pain that accompanied her efforts to utilize her medical marijuana license to obtain the drug that reportedly eased her constant discomfort.

She was a high-profile campaigner for the Montana Medical Marijuana Act, and like others, she was dismayed when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that drug agents could still arrest sick people using marijuana, even in states that legalized its use.

The ruling came to haunt Prosser in late March, when DEA agents seized less than a half ounce of marijuana sent to her by her registered caregiver in Flathead County.

At the time, the DEA special agent in charge of the Rocky Mountain Field Division said federal agents were “protecting people from their own state laws" by seizing such shipments.

“I feel immensely let down," Prosser would write a few months later, in a guest opinion for the Billings Gazette published July 28. “I have no safety, no protection, no help just to survive in a little less pain. I can't even get a job due to my medical marijuana use - can't pass a drug test."

Federal prosecutors declined to charge Prosser, but fear spread through the system of marijuana distribution set up in the wake of the medical marijuana act. Friends said Prosser turned to other sources for marijuana, but found problems nearly everywhere she turned.

A number of bloggers have written about Prosser's tragic death and while the topics of medical marijuana and the "war on drugs" warrant discussion, I think a larger issue merits even more attention. That issue is the growing need to view others through a template which relies upon the belief that society is best served when homogeneity is embraced and enforced.

The problem begins with a reliance upon statistics and soon morphs into the conclusion that all situations and all individuals can be understood by looking at the prevailing data to determine what is acceptable and what must be rejected. While this model serves us well with regards to the approval of drugs by the FDA; it fails miserably when attempting to predict each individuals capacity to lead a functional life...especially when that life is lived outside the norm.

At its worst, I believe that such a construct not only leads to a mind set which demands similitude; but it encourages the mediocrity that seems to have become a burgeoning affliction in this country. Differentness seems to have become a disquieting condition which has led us to react with fear to all that is outside the safe confines of the normative range of behaviors.

As I read the many comments on the Prosser situation, I was struck by the countless assertions of certainty regarding the use of marijuana and the propensity to cite the evidence proffered by the government in its ongoing opposition to marijuana. Here's the problem. For every study that offers a rationale to prevent its use, there are ten that document the dangers of consuming alcohol. Unfortunately, the powers that be support the notion that adults can and will make reasoned decisions with regard to their use of alcohol while prohibiting those same adults from doing so with marijuana and other recreational drugs.

The individuals who so boldly claim that marijuana is a gateway drug...a drug which can lead to depression...a drug whose use is indicative of a surrender to the travails faced by the individual...are the same individuals who believe they can judiciously manage their own use of alcohol...a drug with all of the same contraindications.

Let me be clear...my comparison to alcohol is not offered as a justification for the legalization of marijuana even though it may be a compelling argument. I offer the comparison to highlight the inconsistency inherent in the arguments which attempt to apply statistical data without regard for the varying abilities of the individual. The exceptionalism which is so often applied to America by Americans is mysteriously absent when looking at individuals who operate outside the safe zone of the proverbial bell curve.

Truth be told, the exceptional traits which we so frequently attribute to this nation clearly resulted from the efforts of individuals who refused to be confined by conventionality and the prescribed standards we now cling to with more unfounded fears than those associated with a child's reliance upon a security blanket. Each submission to our fears is another piece of evidence that the average American identity grows ever more fragile. That fragility also facilitates the flattening of the curve and an across the board free fall towards a safe but shared inferiority.

As we acquiesce to all that defines a nanny state, we are fast becoming a nation of sniping adult children who succumb to pettiness because it is far easier than confronting the many complex discriminations that accompany the human condition. In our rush to mediocrity, we hasten the demise of the creative spirit, we stifle those who would otherwise take the risks that have allowed us to exceed all others, and we force the Robin Prosser's of the world to believe that their very existence is so antagonistic that they can no longer live amongst us.

When we allow the pain of our irrational fears to exceed our ability to empathize with those in our midst who are suffering tangible tragedy we move ever closer to the very demise we imagine may come if we were to make allowances for our differences. Robin Prosser is no longer living...but we who remain are less alive each time we foster the intolerance we're unable or unwilling to overcome.

Tagged as: Drug Enforcement Agency, Medical Marijuana, Robin Prosser, Suicide

Daniel DiRito | October 28, 2007 | 11:31 AM | link | Comments (0)
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October 3, 2007

Move On Folks: Nothing To See Here But Us Humans genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Nouveau Thoughts & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions & Video-Philes

OK, let's face it...we live in a divided country. While it seems intuitive to believe that the events of 9/11 would bring us together (and it did for a while), in the long run, it may have helped to further divide us. Let me be clear...all American's abhor what happened on 9/11...but differences have emerged with regards to how to best address the threat of terrorism.

The invasion of Iraq seems to have been the primary catalyst in advancing the divide. While one could rehash all of the reasons, it actually serves little purpose at this point. Additionally, debating the war in Iraq doesn't alter the underlying issues. Terrorism does exist...it comes from hidden corners...and the hatred which facilitates it is real.

At the heart of any reaction to terrorism is an element of fear given the absolute uncertainty with regard to personal safety. Mothers want to protect their children...husbands want to protect their wives...and no one wants to witness another 9/11. How that is best achieved naturally creates conflict...and it also creates a degree of irrational expectations.

Fighting the school bully is a straightforward proposition; fighting a terrorist movement is anything but straightforward. Yes, both can be identified as the enemy...but one has a face and the other doesn't. That frustrating reality leads many of us to look for ways to simplify the problem.

For some, it's a call to secure our borders against all who may attempt to enter illegally...for others it's a condemnation of Islam as a violent religion which has as it's goal world domination...for some it should be a heightened level of intelligence gathering, law enforcement, and persistent vigilance, but by no means a suspension of civil liberties...and for some it is a call for the indiscriminate elimination of those nations which foment terrorists.

All of these views are flawed because they seek a solution to a problem which may never be eliminated. So where does that leave us? Well, it leaves us in disagreement as well as permanently burdened with our fears. It shouldn't leave us at each others throats...but it often does. May I suggest that while we may not agree, no one view is all right or all wrong. At the same time, our differences of opinion are natural and should be expected since we are not a nation of clones.

Unfortunately, we tend to vilify those who possess different views and beliefs...all the while ignoring the fact that wherever humans gather, differences will emerge. Hence, we endeavor to identify types of people...seeking to create a finite list...one that will inform us of all the possible kinds of people we may encounter. Sadly, life isn't that simple.

With that in mind, I decided to post the following videos. Each of them is relative to this topic and they demonstrate our efforts to understand each other in simplistic terms and types which I contend is a futile process but one that seems to bring us some level of comfort...even if that comfort results from blatant denial.

The first video was taken at a College Republican convention (by a Democrat) and it seeks to convey that these young Republicans are in favor of war but unwilling to serve in the military (the chickenhawk hypothesis). No doubt the videographer sought to prove his point and likely edited the footage accordingly in what I would remind the viewer is an attempt to bring certainty to an uncertain world.

The second video is from Real Time with Bill Maher and it is also an attempt to identify and portray those individuals who can be labeled as "chickenhawks"...those individuals in favor of an aggressive approach to terrorism but unwilling to serve in the military. Maher, like the prior videographer, seeks to prove a point and provide a level of certainty...albeit through humor in his case...but with essentially the same goal.

The last video is perhaps the most informative with regards to our futile attempts to bring order to a world which lacks order. This video posits that there are ten types of Republicans and then sets out to define each one. Again, it looks for certainty in hopes of understanding all of the people we might encounter...a task which cannot be achieved.

What each of these videos provide is a tangible representation of the fears we embrace as human beings who are afraid of death. Whether one is a Democrat or a chickenhawk or one of these 10 types of Republicans, the answers we seek will not be found and the certainty we prefer will not emerge.

Notwithstanding, these videos do provide some certainty...the certainty that we are all human, we are all flawed, and we are all different. Perhaps its time we focus upon what we can know and forego our efforts to discern and define what is beyond our capacity. What we share ought to be more important than what we don't. There is little to be gained in the attachment of labels. If we continue down the current path, it seems likely that all that will remain is the killing.

At The College Republican Convention

Bill Maher: New Rule - Chickenhawk Down

Ten Types Of Republicans

Tagged as: 9/11, Bill Maher, Chickenhawks, Death, Democrats, Republicans, Terrorism, War

Daniel DiRito | October 3, 2007 | 3:52 PM | link | Comments (0)
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