Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review August 8, 2003 / 10 Menachem-Av, 5763

Diana West

Diana West
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Who's saved by safe shooting? | Even in a culture as (how to put it?) comfortable with its own relativism as ours is, it's unlikely that a recent Washington Post front-page article about Canada's "safe injection sites" for intravenous drug users went down quite as smoothly as the morning coffee. It wasn't the pathetic degradation of the addicts that was tough to swallow, but rather the extremely creepy revelation that the gentle art of healing now includes such, well, harmful practices as "vein maintenance" and "injection techniques" as part of a Canadian government-approved effort to ensure that junkies inject themselves with their poison of choice according to the highest medical standards.

First, consider the Canadian drug lexicon. What are "safe injection sites"? The euphemistically named product of Canada's euphemistically named "harm reduction" drug policy, "safe injection sites" are where Canadians may shoot heroin, crystal methamphetamine, Drano or whatever, directly into their bloodstreams under the expert supervision of registered nurses.

"Go flush with the skin," Patti Zettel, a nurse, instructs an addict -- sorry, "client" -- preparing a fix (dose?) of crystal methamphetamine at the Dr. Peter Centre, a "safe" site in Vancouver, British Columbia. "Then up. Once in the vein, release the tourniquet. Look," the nurse says, apparently to the Post reporter on hand. "She has good blood flow."

Frankly, a pitiable addict's "good blood flow" is less than likely to elicit celebratory whoops in the casual reader -- unless, of course, the casual reader happens to be a "harm reducer" like Nurse Zettel. She, along with two nursing colleagues, articulated the definition of "harm reduction nursing" in a recent issue of Canadian Nurse magazine as a practice aimed at "reducing the consequences of drug use without necessarily requiring a reduction in the drug use itself."

In other words, if a "client" is killing himself with drugs; destroying his loved ones with drugs; reducing his community to a crime-ridden slum with drugs; and keeping money flowing to narco-terrorists the world over with drugs, by all means encourage the "client" to do so -- as long as he is harm-reducingly equipped with a sterile syringe, a proper tourniquet and some decent gauze. "The approach," the nurses explained in their article, "is to educate participants and to support them in making their own informed choices."

Donate to JWR

Considering the "informed choices" a "participant" awaiting a "safe" injection of heroin is likely to make, such jargon is not only peculiar, it is sanitized to the point of fantasy. Indeed, it is disconcerting to realize that the only educating "safe injection sites" set out to do concerns the unhealthiness of unsanitary drug use, which often leads to HIV infection, and not the unhealthiness of drug use in the first place.

Lori-Kim Veenstra, the addict with "good blood flow," says nobody in the center "pushes" treatment information on her; indeed, the only signs on the clinic walls mentioned in the Post article read: "No nurse, no fix." And: "If you are not injecting or using the bathroom, stay out." Zettel, who says she wants to come across as being "nonjudgmental," explains the "safe" site philosophy this way: "I can't push my agenda. If Lori is interested in detox treatment, it is about what Veenstra wants when she wants it." The article ends with Veenstra wanting another fix.

While a few pesky kinks in Canada's new policy remain -- addicts, for example, continue to risk arrest by buying the illegal drugs they bring to "safe" sites, which operate as drug-arrest-free zones -- harm reduction proponents would likely see in Veenstra's case evidence of "safe injection site" success. John Walters, White House drug policy director, would disagree. "The very name is a lie," he told the Post. "It can't be made safe. We believe the only moral responsibility is to treat drug users. It is reprehensible to allow people and encourage people to continue suffering."

I must say it seems doubly reprehensible for medical professionals to allow and encourage people to continue suffering. "It's the most ethical work I've ever done as a nurse and a human being," says Ms. Zettel. "We as a society have reinforced their (addicts') marginalization. They have a poor sense of self-esteem and value. We have reinforced that. That to me is criminal."

So much for being nonjudgmental. Meanwhile, how it is that injection sites, which would seem to promise only to keep addicts addicted, can possibly undo anyone's "marginalization" is a mystery. As for "self-esteem" -- "self-respect" would be a healthier aim -- it's hard to see how shooting up, however safely, can ever help.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Diana West is a columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

08/04/03: Saving Islam from itself
07/25/03: Dem party poopers
07/18/03: Whose credibility gap?
07/14/03: Local news from 1894
07/07/03: Will July ninth be Iran's July Fourth?
06/27/03: A Dean's list of questions
06/20/03: Fanning the wrong flames
05/16/03: Speaking of terror
05/30/03: Facing reality at the DMV
05/27/03: Lost in The Matrix
05/19/03: A dubious diversity
05/09/03: Recalling the man who 'Banned in Boston'
05/02/03: Fellowships and flagellation
04/28/03: What Americans have to learn about cultural education
04/21/03: In Iraq, is democracy is in the eye of the beholder?
04/14/03: The greatest generation gap
03/31/03: The great gap between the West and the Middle East
03/21/03: They just wouldn't shut up!
03/10/03: Sorry apologies for speaking the truth
03/03/03: The Eurabian alliance
02/24/03: Searching for good news
02/18/03: Love and honor -- lost, found and murdered
02/03/03: A calm that causes concern
01/27/03: Playing politics with a T-shirt mentality
01/21/03: When understanding the East means losing the West
01/13/03: Is a war on Jews a war on democracy?
01/06/03: Bush must take a stand on affirmative action
12/30/02: Questions for reflection on 2002
12/16/02: The pre-emptive war goes Hollywood
12/09/02: Protest Augusta? Why not Sudan?
11/25/02: Something to contemplate this Ramadan
11/08/02: Does Eminem now fit in?
11/04/02: No time for gloating
11/04/02: What's in a name when the name is Muhammad?
10/28/02: Jihad as a First Amendment right
10/21/02: When speaking out isn't allowed
10/14/02: Terrorism in Maryland and abroad
09/30/02: So long urgency, hello indulgence
09/24/02: That one, sturdy, missing word
09/17/02: Fingerprinting, finally
09/09/02: When 'healing' overshadows reality
09/04/02: Tales from the Techno Valley and Forest
08/16/02: Elvis shall rise again
08/14/02: War with Iraq won't harm war on terror
08/06/02: Clinton snaps over Somalia
08/01/02: 9-11 anniversary shouldn't come with apology
07/27/02: An unstable common ground
07/25/02: Hillary fights hard for soft money
07/12/02: Goretheus unbound
07/10/02: Rosie takes a shine to Republicans
07/08/02: Are you still shocked, Sami?
07/02/02: Can Britney win hearts of the Middle East?
06/28/02: A war on terror or Islamists?
06/25/02: Blame the murderer, and the messenger
06/21/02: Up front and personal with Atta
06/18/02: Terrorism at the United Nations
06/11/02: Who's policing the INS?
06/07/02: Spa Gitmo
06/04/02: Can rock gods save the queen?
05/31/02: Hillary's war
05/29/02: Have you forgotten we're at war?
05/24/02: An antiquated luxury of the past
05/21/02: From terrorists to tourists
05/19/02: Hate U.
05/07/02: Western self-loathing numbs us to violence
05/03/02: Pioneering television
05/01/02: Western self-loathing numbs us to violence
04/29/02: It's the misconduct, stupid
04/24/02: Medal of diss-honor
04/17/02: Holy sanctuary or terrorist shield?
04/12/02: Egyptian clerics solicit martyrs for murder
04/09/02: Defining terrorism down
04/05/02: The Wilder life
04/02/02: Acting, equality and the Academy
03/31/02: Speeding to conclusions
03/25/02: Hard to remove blood (libel) stains
03/21/02: The tale of Nixon's tapes --- again
03/19/02: The Big Lie lives on
03/15/02: The tunnel vision of '9/11'
03/13/02: The American Auschwitz?
03/08/02: Hating the indoctrination of hate
03/05/02: Clinton and Enron: Old friends
03/01/02: Pickering doesn't polarize, the process does
02/26/02: Destiny's prefabricated child
02/22/02: The White House heist
02/20/02: Making the grade
02/11/02: Studying student visas
02/06/02: Understanding arrogance
02/04/02: The professor's war
01/29/02: Disconnected dialogue
01/23/02: Anti-Indiscrimination
01/18/02: How much is enough?
01/15/02: Oh brothers, where art thou?
01/10/02: Air on the side of caution
01/04/02: Blacks seeing red at Harvard
01/02/02: Clinton's campaign continues
12/26/01: A tale of two exhibitions
12/24/01: Taliban Idyll
12/19/01: Right is right
12/17/01: Hillary strikes out
12/13/01: Lost files, lost presidency
12/10/01: Revolutionaries never grow up
12/05/01: Immigration reform talk is not just for 'haters' anymore
12/03/01: A new symbol of justice
11/30/01: Beyond morality
11/26/01: Can't keep a good man down
11/20/01: Tough talk at the United Nations
11/19/01: Hollywood's other battle
11/14/01: What's the matter with Sara Jane?
11/09/01: A beef with bin Laden's Beef Noodles
11/07/01: Facing up to the FBI's past mistakes
11/02/01: A school that teaches patriots to shutup
10/30/01: The gap between Islam and peace
10/26/01: The ties that bind (and gag)
10/24/01: This war is more than Afghanistan
10/22/01: The fatuous fatwa
10/19/01: Left out
10/16/01: Whose definition of terrorism?
10/11/01: Post-stress disorder
10/08/01: How the West has won
10/01/01: Good, bad or ... diplomacy
09/28/01: Drawing a line in stone
09/21/01: Prejudice or prudence?
09/14/01: When our dead will finally rest in hallowed ground
09/07/01: We want our #$%^&*() audience back!
08/24/01: The transformation from Green Mountain State to Green Activist State is all but complete
08/17/01: Enlightenment at Yale
08/10/01: From oppressors to victims, a metamorphosis
08/03/01: Opening the dormitory door: College romance in the New Century
08/01/01: How-To Hackdom: The dubious art of writing books about writing books
07/20/01: Hemming about Hemmings
07/13/01: Justice has not been served in the Loiuma police brutality case
06/22/01: When PC parades are too 'mainstream'
06/22/01: When "viewpoint discrimination" in our schools was not nearly so gnarly a notion
06/15/01: Lieberman flaunts mantle of perpetual aggrievement
06/07/01: Is graciousness the culprit?
06/01/01: The bright side of the Jeffords defection
05/29/01: Campus liberals should be more careful
05/18/01: 'Honest Bill' Clinton and other Ratheresian Logic
05/11/01: Dodging balls, Bugs, and 'brilliance'
05/04/01: Foot in mouth disease and little lost Tories
04/20/01:The last classic Clinton cover-up
04/20/01: D-Day, Schmee-Day
04/06/01: For heaven's sake, a little decency!
03/30/01: The sweet sound of slamming doors and clucking feminists
03/23/01: America's magazines and the 'ick-factor'
03/09/01: Felony neglect
03/02/01: Who's sorry now?
02/23/01: 'Ecumenical niceness' and other latter-day American gifts to the world
02/16/01: Elton and Eminem: Royal dirge-icist meets violent fantasist
02/12/01: If only ...

© 2001, Diana West