Crack Reporting

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Every few years, a new drug is the subject of a fresh moral panic, with new reasons to regard the most recently popular recreational chemical as uniquely horrible. The Columbia Journalism Review has a good piece up that explodes the "crack baby" scare of the late '80s, including interviews with several grown "crack babies" who're doing pretty well. Not to say, obviously, that freebasing while pregnant doesn't do any harm to the child—to say nothing of one's mother being regularly strung out—but the distance between the hype at the time and the reality is worth keeping in mind next time you hear about the new Dire Threat to America's Youth.

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  1. I feel like such an idiot now for having believed the ‘crack baby’ myth. I should have known better.

  2. Sure as hell wouldn’t hear anything like that come out of our drug-war-propaganda-machine, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (which is nowhere near Columbia University, and which employs maybe one or two Columbia people, including the deluded old man and f*cking moron Herb “If you don’t believe the gateway theory, you’re wrong or you’re a liar” Kleber).

  3. And I thought crack babies refered to all those 14 year old girls wearing midriff length T-shirts and ultra-low rise jeans.

  4. Adam: I heard the other Columbian person they have working there is Juan Valdez.

  5. Expect this story to get no traction, because it goes against Holy Drug War Orthodoxy. It disagrees with what our Great Moral Crusade Leaders would have us believe, so it must be false. Don’t you see, it almost claims that crack is as healthy as eating your veggies! If we let this story get out, pregnant women will start taking crack even if they’ve never touched drugs before!

    OK, on a slightly more serious note…this story reminds me of one I was reading just the other day – there have been recent studies which suggest that not everyone sexually abused as a child does grow up to be a horribly scarred and dysfunctional adult; most of them deal with it reasonably well. Of course, this is interpreted by many as a) legitimizing child abuse, and b) threatening their cash cow, so it’s most unwelcome. As one of the authors pointed out, if you discovered that something you always thought was terrible isn’t really so bad, wouldn’t that normally be considered good news? And yet somehow people don’t want to hear it…

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