Addiction

The Buck Keeps Moving

The year's highlights in blame shifting

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Critics of OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma blame it for promoting abuse of the painkiller by encouraging family doctors to prescribe it. "As a result of the expanded access," said a recent New York Times story, summarizing the rap against the company, "OxyContin wound up in the high schools and street corners of rural America, where curious teenagers crushed the pill, defeating the time-release formula, and ended up addicts or, in some cases, dead."

Miraculous as OxyContin may seem to people suffering from severe chronic pain, it does not have the ability to crush itself and leap up the noses of innocent bystanders. No one "ends up" an addict without repeatedly choosing to seek out and consume a drug for the pleasure or emotional relief it provides. Drug treatment data indicate that regular OxyContin users are typically experienced illicit drug consumers who have undergone treatment before, not "curious teenagers."

Purdue Pharma, which pleaded guilty in May to "misbranding," may have misled doctors by telling them OxyContin was less subject to abuse than other opioids. But depicting OxyContin addicts as innocent victims of corporate greed is equally misleading, ignoring the decisions by which they determined their own fates.

There was no shortage of such responsibility-deflecting narratives in 2007. A few more highlights:

Kentucky Fried Lawsuit. Arthur Hoyte, a retired physician from Rockville, Maryland, sued KFC after discovering what he portrayed as the fast food chain's deadly secret: It fried its chicken in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. (It has since switched to a trans-fat-free oil.) "If I had known that KFC uses an unnatural frying oil, and that the food was so high in trans fat, I would have reconsidered my choices," Hoyte said.

But the evidence Hoyte cited to back up his class action, which was supported by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, consisted largely of information KFC itself disseminated through its website and point-of-sale posters. In May a federal judge dismissed the suit.

Deadly Drinking. Last spring, after a fraternity initiation rite, Gary DeVercelly Jr., an 18-year-old freshman at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, was pronounced dead at a Trenton hospital. He had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.43 percent. In August local prosecutors responded by charging three students and two university officials with "aggravated hazing," which carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison.

Unless the administrators were at DeVercelly's side shouting "drink, drink," charging them seems like a stretch, even if you accept the premise that anyone should be held criminally liable for an adult's decision to consume three-quarters of a bottle of vodka in less than half an hour. Although the charges against the Rider officials were later dropped, last week DeVercelly's parents sued the university.

San Francisco Tiger. So far the story about the fatal Christmas Day attack at the San Francisco Zoo has focused primarily on the question of what the zoo should have done to prevent the tiger from escaping, the main criticism being that the wall around the enclosure was not tall enough. But the experts seem to agree that a Siberian tiger does not leap a 33-foot moat and scale a 12½-foot wall without provocation. "There had to have been a tremendous stimulus that made the tiger react the way she did," one told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The teenager who was killed, Carlos Sousa Jr., reportedly saved his friends, 19-year-old Amritpal Dhaliwal and his 23-year-old brother, Kulbir, by luring the tiger away from them. The brothers were hostile to the police, at first refusing even to give their names, and have yet to provide a public account of what happened.

Police found a shoeprint on top of the railing outside the enclosure, and the Chronicle reported that "pinecones and sticks that were found in the moat might have been thrown at the animal." Whatever role the Dhaliwal brothers played in the attack, you can be sure it will be further obscured by their inevitable lawsuit.

© Copyright 2007 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. If I’m forced by peer pressure and advertising to crush and snort Oxycontin while chugging hard alcohol and chowing down on KFC in the presence of a hungry Bengel tiger — well, dammit, someone needs to protect me from the consequences. Those bastards deserve to be sued for not anticipating that I would fall victim to their insidious enticements.

  2. DO NOT OPERATE HAIR DRYER IN SHOWER

    People should do expend a lot of ingenuity figuring out novel ways to be extremely stupid.

  3. If I had known that KFC uses an unnatural frying oil, and that the food was so high in trans fat, I would have reconsidered my choices,” Hoyte said.

    *Wonders if he said it with a straight face*

    Haha- Ya because I just saw that the other day in Men’s Health. Make sure your deep fried fatty foods are fried in all natural oil! That’s Health Conscience.

  4. OT — why hasn’t Reason picked up on this story about men being charged with indecent exposure after being enticed to do so by topless undercover female cops ? It’s been picked up ABC, Drudge, and now Lew Rockwell.

  5. I heard about that horrible case with the topless cop a few days ago.

    That reporter that you linked to seems to be crazy though, his ranting would make most trolls jealous.

    And that was a pretty short article Jacob. If you want to convince me that we’re under attack you’re gonna have to come up with more examples than that.

  6. I hope someone gets a video of those tits and posts it on youtube. Eventually, one would think, the cops would stop volunteering for that post.

  7. I hope someone gets a video of those tits and posts it on youtube. Eventually, one would think, the cops would stop volunteering for that post.

    Given the number of boobs on the Internet, I wouldn’t bet on it.

    I’d ask what right cops had to disobey the law to enforce it, but that issue has left the building.

  8. I’d ask what right cops had to disobey the law to enforce it, but that issue has left the building.

    Of course we can’t expect those noble public servants, our heroic law enforcement agents to obey the law. Entrapment? They’ve been doing similar criminal behavior with decoy prostitutes for ages. It is good to know that assault, robbery, murder and burglary are all under control in Columbus, though. Sounds like budget cutting time to me.

  9. And the headline of the SFGate article quoting the expert saying the tiger must have been provoked?

    Big-cat experts say a determined tiger could get over 12 1/2-foot wall

    And Morris wept.

  10. J sub D,

    Entrapment, at the very least, requires that the govt agent cause a person to commit a crime when that person originally had no intent to do so. Simply providing the means or the opportunity to commit a crime doesn’t constitute entrapment in any reasonable legal interpretation.

  11. A half-naked chick flirted with the guy and ASKED him to show her his junk. He wasn’t just going around the park flashing people. That seems like a little more than “simply providing the means or the opportunity to commit a crime…”. If she had just been laying there topless and he came up and dropped his drawers without any encouragement it would be different.

    There aren’t too many heterosexual men who would say no to a request from a good-looking, topless woman.

  12. Entrapment, at the very least, requires that the govt agent cause a person to commit a crime when that person originally had no intent to do so. Simply providing the means or the opportunity to commit a crime doesn’t constitute entrapment in any reasonable legal interpretation.

    Of course, determining whether or not someone “originally had no intent to do so” requires a fair bit of mind-reading. In the absence of a history of the illegal behavior, I don’t know how you can call most stings anything other than entrapment.

    Example: You’ve got some guy with no known history of using prostitutes. Some girl walks up to him, and makes him an offer. He says, hey, why not? Now, where exactly do you get any basis for saying he had an intention to commit a crime before some skank walks up to him and offers to blow him for $20?

    Remember, we need enough evidence to conclude that there is no reasonable doubt about his pre-existing intent.

  13. There aren’t too many heterosexual men who would say no to a request from a good-looking, topless woman.

    I would!

    Well, unless it were a request for information about Catholic teachings. But, that happens far less frequently.

  14. There aren’t too many heterosexual men who would say no to a request from a good-looking, topless woman.

    For more evidence of this, a person needs only to travel to the nearest strip club and watch the patrons for about ten minutes. Maybe less.

  15. Great article, Jacob. Except one thing, it’s not Center for Science in the Public Interest. It’s:

    Center for “Science” in the “Public Interest”. Just thought I’d point that out.

  16. this story about men being charged with indecent exposure after being enticed to do so by topless undercover female cops

    Wouldn’t that be a uniform violation?

  17. Entrapment? They’ve been doing similar criminal behavior with decoy prostitutes for ages.

    Supposedly, though, to avoid entrapment, the female cop isn’t supposed to solicit sex. She’s supposed to stand there and wait for the john to offer money for sex without any coercion. Taking your blouse off and asking men to expose themselves is, in my opinion, entrapment. The men should all be glad she didn’t ask them to marry her. You wanna talk about entrapment…

  18. From the headline, I thought this was going to be an article about the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar over the last year.

  19. crimethink | January 2, 2008, 11:47am | #
    There aren’t too many heterosexual men who would say no to a request from a good-looking, topless woman.

    I would!

    Well, unless it were a request for information about Catholic teachings. But, that happens far less frequently.

  20. I love how the damn police waste city resources with nonsense like this; meanwhile, sexual predators are allowed to roam free.

    This has to beg the question of whether Barney Fife gets his jollies of in the cruiser while he watches his female partner dressed in provocative clothing.

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