In Which Miss Gulch Gets Pwned Like A Pwny Thing
Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 16, 2007
Earlier this week, in her patented Hushed Tones Of Moral Authority, conservative columnist Katherine Kersten breathlessly informed the readers of her StarTribune column that there was a Serious Heroin Problem (no doubt the work of liberals and our permissive society) in the deceptively-serene college town of Northfield, Minnesota:
A perfect storm has hit Northfield, Minn. Last week, police there announced that the city is combating an epidemic of heroin use by kids ages 15 to 23. Between 150 and 250 kids are apparently involved, and the operation is centered at Northfield High School. The heroin comes from Twin Cities pushers.
Northfield’s crime rate has skyrocketed, as young users break into cars or garages and steal to feed habits costing as much as $800 a day. Kids have roamed through dorms at Carleton and St. Olaf colleges, grabbing laptops and cell phones to sell. They have even invaded hospitals in Rochester, soliciting patients for OxyContin.
Today, in short, we discourage reckless pleasure seeking generally by invoking more self-interest: the consequences of drinking or sex may inconvenience you, or harm your health. Today, we rarely tell our kids that certain behaviors are morally wrong or beneath human dignity. Nor do we emphasize that obligations to others — parents, teachers and fellow citizens — should bar such behavior.
We prefer to believe that this philosophy of hedonism and radical individualism — checked only by a fuller consideration of self-interest –won’t have long-term negative consequences.
But we shouldn’t be surprised when our young people act on it, and do so in frightening ways that we didn’t anticipate.
Take this vision of life and add other ingredients: affluence, busy parents who sometimes don’t monitor behavior and proximity to a big city with heroin pushers eager to expand their territory.
And you get Northfield’s perfect storm.
Except that, well, the Great Northfield Smack Epidemic turns out to be a crock o’ dung:
• School authorities have dismissed the notion of a heroin ring at the high school.
• No heroin-possession indictments have been returned.
• Area hospitals report no evidence of young con artists at work.
• The record is mixed on thefts at local colleges, with an increase at Carleton but no such hike at St. Olaf.
Others have raised concerns about the number of young people reportedly using the drug.
Northfield schools Superintendent Chris Richardson, who learned about Smith’s news conference only a couple hours beforehand, was dumbfounded by the chief’s assessment.
“Our numbers just don’t match up,” he said.
Richardson added that in the 2006-07 school year there were 15 students referred for drug treatment who were heroin or oxycodone users.
“What I think many of us are questioning is, was this a significant exaggeration of the reality, and if it was, did we end up with a negative impact along with whatever positive there was?” Richardson said.
The article goes on to cite other community leaders, students, and others who know whereof they speak, and they all say that the “150 to 250 smack addicts” figure is ridiculous.
But hey, Miss Gulch got another chance to wag her bony fingers at Those Awful Permissive Liberals, so it’s not a total loss. (Meanwhile, the always-excellent Mark Gisleson of Norwegianity tees off on not just Kersten, but the conservatively-permissive management of the StarTribune that lets her slop such swill onto their once-proud pages.)
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