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Junkies, Vocabulary and Poor Choices
April 18, 2023
by William P. Meyers

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Last night the public Community Center for my neighborhood caught on fire. There is a small park beside the Center, which is mostly cement but has some patches of grass, flower beds, and trees. The fire started in the park, went up a tree, and entered the building. The building may be closed permanently, we do not know yet.

Officially we don't know the cause of the fire, but, based on my experience, the most likely cause is junkies. Junkies are addicts, or persons experiencing dependency, depending on where you are on the woke vocabulary spectrum. More specifically junkies are opiate or opioid addicts. When I first started meeting them, in the 1970s, they were mostly heroin addicts. Before the pandemic they were mostly OxyContin addicts. Now they are mostly fentanyl addicts. They are often homeless (people experiencing homelessness), but not all homeless people are junkies, and not all junkies are homeless. Why do I think junkies caused the fire? Because there used to be a homeless camp in that park, and junkies and homeless people still hang around. Since fentanyl came into use I have seen a switch to smoking the drug rather than injecting it. This creates a fascination with fire, and a need to fire up, and a tendency to see fires catching on the sides of buildings where junkies fire up. There have been at least three prior, almost certainly junkie-related, fires started outside buildings in my neighborhood in the past year. I live in Seattle, and my neighborhood is not bad, it could be described as mixed-income. We provide services for homeless people, and a fair amount of housing for those with incomes (usually from disability or social security) insufficient for the high-priced Seattle commercial market. So a fair number of the down-and-out crowd hang around. In addition to the building fires, we have had fires in tents, usually from propane stoves. We have had explosions. And of course gunfire. We did get the city to close a couple of local homeless camps. Well, four I can think of. So yesterday the Mayor declared War on Drugs in Seattle, but with different, milder vocabulary. We tried Peace with Drugs in Seattle, and the drugs won. Drugs are like Hitler: sooner or later they are going to invade Poland, then France. Did I say I can easily walk to at least 3 legal cannabis stores?


How nice is the public obligated to be to junkies? How obligated is the public to helping them get over their addiction? Or living happily with their addiction? I think those are fair questions. Debatable questions. But like many questions these days, the choices made in vocabulary used can make it difficult to make good decisions, on an individual level or on a public policy level.

The woke, progressive left like to use the word experiencing. Have you noticed how selectively this is applied? If a person experiencing homelessness hits a woman in the head and steals from her, that is a person experiencing a mental health crisis. No jail time required; diversion program preferred. Just a free apartment from the government, an allowance to buy drugs, and some optional counseling.

But different rules apply to different classes of people and behavior. Consider some cases where lefties don't want person experiencing vocabulary used [I use exaggeration for clarity]:

A person, a failed former casino owner, experiencing sexually assaulting a woman, should not go to jail. They should be diverted to counseling.

People experiencing violent expression of hatred for homosexuals and transsexuals should not go to jail. They should be diverted to counseling.

White people experiencing violent hatred of black or Asian people should not go to jail. They should be diverted to counseling.

People experiencing the need to rob a bank should not go to jail. They should be diverted to counseling.

People experiencing murdering their spouses should not go to jail. They should be diverted to counseling.

People experiencing using vocabulary the left feels is inappropriate. They should be diverted to counseling.

Enough examples, even a kid at a liberal arts college should have the picture by now. There are times for counseling, their are times for psychiatry, and unfortunately there are times for police, judges and jails. Speaking clearly helps make clear decisions. Bull begets bull.

Saying people are experiencing something, when they are acting on their own initiative, is dehumanizing. I am not ignoring sociology. Kids do better when they don't start out poor. But I have seen that, to some extent, middle class kids and even rich kids can become criminals. They just can afford better lawyers. Most poor people try to follow the law and to be good people. When society excuses bad behavior, it gets more bad behavior. That does not mean we need to sentence a young adult to ten years in prison for possession of a joint of marijuana, as was sometimes the case when I was growing up in the seventies. Let the punishment fit the crime. Make diversion programs more accountable. You can argue that some or all violence is from mental illness, but that does not change the bruises, trauma, bleeding or deaths of the victims.

Call a junkie a junkie. Call a rapist a rapist. Call a racist a racist. Call a thief a thief, and call a violent person a criminal. When, or if, they learn to behave, we can omit the derogatory labels.

People in pain can benefit from pain killers. It is a long path from taking an aspirin to being a junkie. A path often strewn with partying. Once someone is a junkie, the public needs protection from them. Preventing people from becoming junkies is better, and that means opioids need to be kept off the streets and away from parties.

I highly recommend reading the book Junkie by my friend William Burroughs. It saved me from a lot of errors. And I leave you with a few lines from a Neil Young song:

I've seen the needle and the damage done
A little part of it in everyone
But every junkie's like a settin' sun

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