OPIOIDS FOR ALL

Stalin reportedly said, “One death is a tragedy. Ten million is a statistic.”

Doctor Sackler, a founder of Purdue Pharma, is quoted (from a deposition) in today’s Wall Street Journal about Oxycontin: “I was trained not to chase what could be random events…my recollection is vague.”

Meanwhile an op-ed piece from Steve Miller of Purdue Pharma, in today’s Wall Street Journal is entitled: “Litigation Won’t Solve Opioid Crisis” and a sentence within claims, “Patients suffering rom the effects of abuse need real help not scapegoats.”

Remember Ford Motor stopped making Pinto cars after explosions, deaths and many litigation successes.

NEW TV SHOW – BLOOD AND TREASURE

This CBS show is sort of billed as The Antiques Roadshow with guns. There are many bad guys, not just crooks, in the world of antiques and antiquities. One might call it The Antiques Roadshow with Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford is not in the cast.

I’m of Huckleberry Finn’s persuasion about the long past: The widow “let out that Moses had been dead a considerable long time; so then I didn’t care no more about him; because I don’t take stock in dead people.” (Chapter 1)

All I want on TV today is a police investigation of a good, solid murder in the middle of Manhattan, rather than see a bunch of people shot dead in a crypt where the inhabitants are dead already. 

FACT AND TRUTH, OR FAKE, AND FANTASY

In this media-driven world reporting every assertion, claim and utterance, truth seems impossible to determine or accept. This circumstance has existed a while, since the the Iraq War, or I-did-not-have-sex-with-that-woman (If it wasn’t sex, what was it?), or before. This circumstance has accelerated and intensified under Don Trump.

Having run across the good description of results of this circumstance in Harold Schonberg, The Great Pianists, provides a time to amplify. Vladimir Ashkenazy, the Soviet pianist, left the Soviet Union and lived in London. He said, “I would call Russia a country of lies….By the time you are a grown-up person you’re so utterly brainwashed that you don’t know anymore what you like and what you don’t like.” (page 472)

Note the sort of brainwashing being described. It is not a planned program, enforced by laws and threats. It is a passive, random presentation of dissimulations fed to the public all the time to destroy individuality, thought, criticism and judgment. It creates confusion and misunderstanding. In the end no one knows what is actually fact and truth, including the persons promulgating the lies. 

The means to overcome a passive presentation of distortion is not in social or broadcast media – one side or another edge, the third fringe, the fourth abyss, the fifth dimension, or the sixth amoeba. It is incumbent for individuals to educate themselves, reason and evaluate on their own, hear and listen, and to continue to educate themselves. Determination by the individual what is fact and truth and what is fake or fantasy can lead to a sense of control, involvement and self. Repeat the process. Instead many people seem satisfied to withdraw sometimes into drugs, or other physical distractions, and hear the media. The individual efforts are better than the results of fake fantasies, coming from brainwashing, being presented to Americans every day  

It is necessary and fitting for Americans to read everything. An example from history: Vietnam. How many Americans could have found that country on a map in 1955? How many Americans could find Vietnam on a map in 1973, after 58,000 Americans had been killed, hundreds of billions of dollars spent, depletion of military will and assets, and a reckless abandonment to a policy to contain communism? Obviously, the Vietnamese were not into expanding communism. For them it a nationalistic war: After the Americans left Indochina the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia and got rid of the evil that had killed millions of Cambodians. The Vietnamese left Cambodia to itself. It did not take over parts of Laos which had been part of the Ho Chi Minh trail.

Yet, a silhouette of Vietnam in 2005 evoked no recognition from an educated American. Every American should not never remember. No American should forget to forego learning and education.

FREE SPEECH

Free Speech is not an issue in the United States. Anyone can say anything about anyone at any time, and not be arrested.

The problem is talking so other Americans can or must listen. There are forums where people go and listen: religious services, sporting and entertainment events, institutions of government (Remember the “You lie.” interruption of an Obama State of the Union Address), and lectures with limited or specific subjects in science, educations, art and culture. This last group usually allows interruptions, politely, by raising hands and allowing questions and comments.

Free speech in open, general forums does not mean that people are compelled to listen. Free Speech does not mean that people cannot interrupt, shout objections or make comments. Indeed, free speech by a speaker invites other Americans who want to add or exercise their free speech rights in the same forum, at the same time. Those added speakers may seem rude, but that is the world Americans live in. Actually, it has always been the world Americans have lived in.

Consider Abraham Lincoln. It was said he would hook an audience and everyone would listen. Indeed, with one speech, given in New York City at Cooper Union speech, the westerner came to the notice of easterners. Lincoln became the Republican nominee for president in 1860. The Cooper Union speech not only had a profound effect on its audience, but also the words, the writing and the substantive captures readers today. Therein one may say Lincoln was eloquent.

Eloquence is the hallmark, the end game, what is required. Imagine how an abolitionist speaker gave speeches before the Civil War to hostile, interrupting, slave-tolerating audiences? The best of those speakers was Wendell Phillips of Boston. Besides being anti-slavery he had other causes: woman’s rights, labor rights, a progressive tax system. There was much for the Establishment and its audiences to hate or dislike.

How eloquent was Wendell Phillips? Ralph Waldo Emerson described his speech: The whole air was full of splendors. This type is speaker either presents such compelling content (like Lincoln) so the audience listens, or the flowing words are so elevated and unique that people want to hear how the language can be used to its best effect. It appears that Phillips had both abilities. He was a Knight Errant of Unfriended Truth. A Southern newspaper called Phillip’s speaking, an infernal machine set to music. And there was this report:  At the end of a Phillips speech, a member of the audience stood and applauded while yelling, “You God-damned-son-of-a-bitch!”  

And how did Phillips interact with his audience: “There was absolutely nothing of bull-dog combativeness; but a careless buoyant, almost patrician air, as if nothing in the way of mob-violence were with considering, and all the threats of opponents were simply beneath contempt. He seemed like some English Jacobite nobleman on the scaffold, carelessly taking snuff, and kissing his hand to the crowd, before laying his head upon the block.”

Today, speakers want respect, like Rodney Dangerfield. But every human being must earn respect. Speakers are dilettantes who want every person to hear every word uttered in monotone voices: Give the same speech at Texas A & M that will be given at the University of California at Berkeley later? Is there any eloquence? Some of those speakers have Ivy-League educations, like Abraham Lincoln, right? That’s how they graduated – having little education, faking knowledge and brain activity by repeating errant and sundry thoughts previously published on TV – they’ve gone through four years of higher learning where many survived by grade inflation: No one at this Ivy League deserves a C. (Are some people truly worried about students paying into get into college?) These speakers do no know excellence in communication. Having rudimentary logic, they can organize texts and insert cliches popular for limited audiences with no development but scattered among wine-and-cheese-party analyses: That’s real sophistication. None are original, and few, if any, know how to write. Many are authors of ordinary, mundane volumes with no joie de vive. In the end none can offer more than warmed-over phrases, bathroom sponsored suggestions and off-the-cuff offerings to solve any issue. Finally, in the world of writing, they are persons of adjectives and adverbs.

On the lecture and specking circuits these speakers are easy targets who become flustered with the first interruption and off-comment. (That isn’t in my speech, but it logically follows.) Their reactions reveal a complete misunderstanding of a speaker’s status – part entertainer. They lack confidence, have poor speaking ability (unlike Wendell Phillips), are completely unable to defend points of view so the speaker advances his argument while answering comments, generally lack ego and at heart are general misanthropes unable to communicate with the entire human race. 

A final analysis proves these speakers are not Rodney Dangerfield. They are not ready for prime time.

[Quotes and some facts above were taken from a sketch of Wendell Phillips by Norman Thomas,

GREAT DISSENTERS, New York, Norton, 1961.]