Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Look, up in the sky! It's a drug, it's a high. No, it's website!

How plausible was the Superman story?
How plausible is it that listening to certain "tones" on earphones or a headset can get you "high" -- that is, "using 'digital drugs'"? I don't know, give me a decent theory and perhaps it is plausible. Here is link to BinauralBeats.us. Now, how plausible is the warning that listening to such tones is dangerous?

"I think it's very dangerous," said Karina Forrest-Perkins, chief operating officer of Gateway to Prevention and Recovery in Shawnee [OK]. While there are no known neurological effects from digital drugs, they encourage kids to pursue mood altering substances, she said.
She is quoted near the top of the story in The Daily Oklahoman.

Even if it can't get you high, it is dangerous because the website encourages thinking about getting high. Here's another website that also has pictures of Cannabis ("Legal Bud"), pills and hashish ("Legal Hash"). These scam ads have been in magazines for decades, and on the Internet since websites became accessible. If we conclude that simply thinking about drugs and getting high is "dangerous," then what is the content of our anti-drug education programs?

Once again, adults seem to have lost their minds in the face of "dangers!" How many kids are killed and injured in Oklahoma every year in connection with football or hunting? I can confidently assert -- without fear of being disproved -- that the number is greater than that of kids who are injured from the combined dangers of "digital drugs," websites promoting drugs, and marijuana.

And, of course, thinking about getting high is deviant behavior in our culture -- unless you like baseball, and watch the Major League Baseball All-Star Game on Fox, sponsored by Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser. No one is going to try to shut this website down!

I suspect that "Digital drugs" are another species of drug scares that are more scare than drugs. In the early 1980s, I set up Congressional hearings on "Look-alike drugs." These were over-the-counter drugs packaged in capsules or tablets to look like commonly-abused stimulant controlled substances. It was already a crime to manufacture or distribute "counterfeit" controlled substances. But the fact that some people were trying to make money selling non-controlled substances as the real thing was enough for stirring up talk of epidemics, etc. Selling these pills was a scam. (When I was an assistant public defender, one of my first jury trials was defending a bartender in a biker bar who sold counterfeit "speed" to an undercover State Trooper in the men's room. We lost.) Of course there was a danger there -- since the counterfeits do not produce the intended effects, a not-too bright person might conclude that instead of having been burned, they should simply take more of the counterfeit pills, risking an overdose of the over-the-counter medication. But the anti-drug public relations consultants, ambitious reporters, and client-hunting drug abuse treatment experts were eager to trumpet an old scam with a new alliterative name, "look-alike drugs".

In the mid-1980s, "Designer Drugs" was another a catchy, public relations label for a logical consequence of prohibition -- but it was good enough to stimulate enactment of the Controlled Substances Analogue Act of 1986. This campaign was scary enough to inspire Congressman Dan Lungren (R-CA) to push this law which bans substances before they are invented, and once invented, criminalizing the makers and sellers before any evidence of the substances harmfulness was observed, reported or documented. It was the chemical equivalent of requiring a woman to have an abortion because she was impregnated by a "dangerous" man.

The anti-drug establishment is always looking for a scary brand for a "new" epidemic. In the 1990s, DEA and CBS News attempted to re-brand methamphetamine as "Nazi Crank" -- because it was synthesized using a process developed by German scientists in the 1930s to provide stimulants to soldiers, sailors and airmen during World War II. (The U.S. Army and Japan also provided methamphetamine to crucial personnel to help them stay awake.) "Wehrmacht Crank" was hardly as scary and politically-loaded as "Nazi Crank." A drug addict who can be prosecuted for selling "Nazi crank" is not just a bad guy or addicted guy, he is a certified demon.

News stories like this one just made URLs with words like digital drugs, or i-dose, a heck of a lot more valuable. Stay tuned, you will see this "breaking news" on your TV soon, and more stories in newspapers around the nation.

Digital drugs? Caveat emptor, anybody?

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1 comment:

Thinking CAP said...

This story brings a few thoughts to mind.

1) This is Spinal Tap - in the scene where the guitar player explains to the documentarian how his amp "goes to 11," there is also an exchange where the guitarist suddenly thinks that a guitar which has never been played will loose value even if it's looked at, so he chastises the documentarian to not even look at the guitar.

2) I keep on thinking about a creative writing piece which I've not yet typed up. Here's the gist for someone else to run with if they want. Basically it's set in the not too distant future, or perhaps taking place today. It plays off the irony that "Conservative Christians" who have a strong distaste for other religions (and one in particular) are very much like an oppressive religion that engages in FGM, and how those two "religions" which are at each other's throats are, in fact, quite similar.

It explains how the prohibitionists finally get fed up with all the different ways, and new ways, people are thinking of to feel good, or get high. So they just decide to get at "the root of the problem" and mandate a surgical procedure for every baby such that its "pleasure center" in the brain is snuffed out, thus preventing anyone from being able to engage it when they get older. Kind of like how "fixing" a pet at an early age "relieves" it of those pesky and embarrassing humping episodes.