Friday, May 12, 2006

"'s another hammer we can put on people"

Brett Chidester,
Rest in Peace

"...[I]t's another hammer we can put on people," says Delaware State Police Captain Chip Simpson, commander of the special investigations section, praising a brand new law, "Brett's Law," that places a plant, salvia divinorum, in Schedule I of the state's Controlled Substances Act.

Don't you love how he talks? Close your eyes and visualize the use of hammers -- another hammer -- that the police "put on people." Well, not any people, of course. Drug people. Dirty drug-using scum, dopers, losers.

If this law were on the books last year, probably one of the people that Captain Simpson would have been looking to hammer was the young Brett Chidester.

Tragically, in January 2006, Brett Chidester,a 17-year old high school senior, killed himself. According to his parents and the news accounts, in his writings he said his use of Salvia made him see that life was pointless.

How should ministers, pastors, priests, rabbis, imans, and teachers respond to proposals to outlaw something so powerful that it causes one to question the point of life?

Where does the idea that life is pointless come from, anyway? Isn't it a question sometimes raised in some works of philosophy, poetry, or even song lyrics? Doesn't that feeling sometimes arise quite powerfully from an unrequited love?

Why might a bright, attractive 17-year old high school senior consider using a drug like Salvia in the first place? For self-discovery, possibly? Perhaps he wasn't well advised about how to direct his wonderful curiosity.

Indeed, to whom could Brett turn to share his faulty, but powerful lesson from his use of a powerful spiritual medicine? Who could he trust to confide that he was experimenting with a drug that if not technically illegal was certainly in the class of stigmatized, outlawed drugs?

That there was no one is the perhaps the genuine social problem his death reveals.

But if you are a politician, taking advantage of a community's grief you know that no one ever thought life might be pointless until they consumed Salva -- it had to be from the plant. Isn't it simple logic -- if we ban the plant, we're sure to save lives? No more questioning the point of life!

One must acknowledge the grief of Brett's family and friends. What a truly sad loss. But one must also acknowledge that frequently reactions -- both private and public -- to grief are unwise.

Would I have the strength, if my daughter were to die as a consequence of experimenting with drug use, to set up a system that would provide advice and counseling to young people before and after they experimented with drugs?

As the article from Delaware notes, it is easy to get Salvia, and will continue to be easy.
  • Will this law encourage honest conversation by those who use Salvia with counselors, or will it tend to discourage such conversation?
  • Will it save more lives or endanger them?
  • Will it lead to teens having a greater satisfaction with their lives and the challenges of adolescent exploration, or will it lead to more alienation and despair?
* * *

Sadly some think we can raise our children in greater safety because the Delaware State Police now have "another hammer we can put on people." I didn't think the police were running out of hammers to hit people with. Is another police and prosecutorial hammer to their lives what kids like Brett need?

Is Brett is looking down on us from Heaven pleased that a law named after him will be used to "hammer" kids like him?

Perhaps life, or its loss, is not so pointless after all. Oor perhaps this new law confirms just how pointless life -- at least life in the legislature -- can be.

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Anonymous said...

for someone such as yourself who is aware of the power of communication and a medium that reaches the masses, i would think that you would realize the power of the media, and the fact that many times statements are taken out of context and used to create drama. the statement made by Captain Simpson to the News Journal was taken completely out of context, and his words used against him in order to make for a good article in the newspaper. I guess it worked, considering you and the other bloggers believed what the News Journal wrote. there was more to Captain Simpson's statement. congrats, you've just been fooled by our countries most powerful mass medium.

Fawkes said...

Wow, that is nearly verbatim the same comment "anonymous" posted on my blog. It's probably Chip's mom.

Anonymous said...

No matter what context the statement, "It's another hammer we can put on people,", is put said in, it shows a total lack of regard for the people.

He did say it was to help prevent domething like this from happening again or anything like that.

He said "Hammer ... on the people", well maybe the people should start thinking about using there own hammers on him via the soap box or the ballot box, before it gets to the other box.

Anonymous said...

"Another hammer we can put on people" is indicative of the us against them mentality of these thugs.
It's time to start calling them what they are....Paramilitary monster thugs.

Anonymous said...

If the medical examiner is going to rule salvia was a cause of death, then the suicide note and journal entries, in there entirity, must be released. From the small portions that have been released we know that in the suicide note, Brett only states he wants to go to "a better place." The suicide note does not even mention salvia or any reference to it. And the journal entry that mentions salvia was written months before and doesn't mention suicide. This medical examiner needs to release a public statement. What is this "no comment" shit!