Alexandra Hill’s murder: More collateral damage in America’s pathetic War on Drugs
TWO-year-old Alexandra Hill is dead because the state of Texas in its infinite wisdom believes “violent foster parents prone to flinging toddlers about like rag dolls” are more suitable caretakers for children than “the child’s own loving parents, if one of those parents occasionally smokes the dreaded illicit marijuana.” (Alcohol is legal and presumably safe, which is why trustworthy Texas parents eschew smoking cannabis at night but may freely guzzle booze until they pass out.)
But Alex Hill’s dad instead admitted to smoking a little weed after his daughter fell asleep one night, which is why authorities took Alex away from her parents last November and handed her over to the tender mercies of the Texas foster care system, including state-approved foster mother Sherill Small, who after killing Alex “admitted that she had slung the child down on the floor [….] she raised the toddler over her head and slung her down toward the floor twice.”
At least she didn’t smoke marijuana! If the authorities responsible for this travesty have any conscience, they can assuage it by telling themselves, “I bet the dead kid’s last thought was ‘Flying through the air like this is much better than being with Mommy and Daddy.’”
The sad thing is, the only reason you know about Alex Hill is because her final beating at the hands of state-appointed caretakers went a little too far. If she were still alive and being abused today, had Small only flung her toward the floor once, you would never know that somewhere in Texas lives a scared and lonely two-year-old who’s spent a quarter of her life shuffling between abusive foster homes because the state mandated it. And kidnapping kids away from loving families is far from the worst crime committed in the name of America’s War on Drugs.
If you don’t live in America and can’t see drug-war madness firsthand, it’s hard to comprehend just how punitive it is. Remember drug prohibition’s presumed for-your-own-good rationale: “Drugs are bad, and might ruin your life. We, your loving government, will not let that happen.”
So instead of giving drugs the chance to ruin your life, they pre-emptively ruin it for you. Waiting for the other shoe to drop is so stressful, they figure it’s kinder to just grab the shoe and beat the snot out of you with it.
Think I’m exaggerating? No. American law considers drug possession a worse crime than murder—if the harsh mandatory minimum penalties imposed for drug crimes (but not murder) are any indication. Drug convictions are the one type of crime that automatically disqualifies a university student from federal financial aid—a rapist can get into college more readily than a pot seller. Speaking of which, anyone convicted of drug possession, use or sale is also branded an ex-felon for life, which effectively makes it impossible to ever land a decent job after you leave prison—and remember, the government made these people permanent social outcasts for their own good, because people allowed to freely use drugs might OMG ruin their life.
And even that’s not the worst of it. If you work for the Drug Enforcement Administration or any of thousands of police anti-narcotics units, “practicing medicine without a license” is a vital (albeit unwritten) part of your job description. Pain doctors and the DEA fight a constant legal duel that journalist Jacob Sullum dubbed “Drug control vs. pain control.” As Sullum noted:
“Since pain cannot be verified objectively, there is only so much a conscientious doctor can do to make sure a patient is not a malingerer, an addict or a drug dealer. At a certain point, he has to choose between trusting his patients and helping the government enforce its arbitrary dictates regarding psychoactive chemicals. If he sides with his patients, he risks his license, his livelihood and his liberty. If he sides with the government, it is inevitable that some patients will suffer needlessly.”
Sullum’s not just spinning hypotheticals; American physicians have been sentenced to long, harsh prison terms for what boils down to prescribing too much painkiller—with the DEA, not the patient or doctor, deciding how much is too much.
Many medications with legitimate painkilling or health-enhancing purposes also have the potential to be taken purely for fun. And the more effective a drug at killing hardcore pain, the greater its just-for-fun potential. American anti-drug laws operate according to the principle “The risk that a pain victim will suffer through easily treatable agonies is preferable to the risk that a healthy person might choose to get high.”
Confession: such facts underlie one of my deepest, darkest fears—a secret which, until now, I have only ever shared with my closest, most trusted friends plus whatever NSA jackholes spy on my private correspondence: I am afraid that one day I’ll develop some horrifically painful medical problem, easily treatable but the pain will still be unrelenting until I die because the psychopaths fighting America’s drug war hate painkillers almost as much as the people who use them.
Among anesthesiologists and other pain-management professionals, there’s a growing body of anecdotal evidence suggesting that redheads like me are either more sensitive to pain or less sensitive to painkilling drugs—and based on my own history, I think there’s something to that.
Just last month I paid a dentist to spend several hours using a hacksaw, drill and similarly scary devices to do gruesome but medically necessarily things to my teeth. Most patients who undergo that procedure need only two doses of novocaine, one for each side of the mouth. I needed eight or nine doses (I eventually lost count), and after the fifth or sixth time the dentist stopped his work to inject yet another syringe full of numbness into my jaw, I start thinking “Thank Zod novocaine has no recreational value. Because if it did, there’s no way my dentist would dare run the legal risk of giving me over four times the standard dose.”
So if I needed over four times the usual amount of painkiller for a routine dental procedure—what happens if something really goes wrong? If ever I’m sick or injured enough to require morphine, OxyContin or anything else with get-high potential, will I be legally restricted to just under 25 percent of the dose necessary to make my pain go away?
Probably. And the sadistic moralists who set such restrictions insist they’re on the side of righteousness as they treat painkillers and the doctors who prescribe them like enemies of the state. Two-year-old Alexandra Hill wasn’t the first innocent victim to suffer a hideously painful death in the name of transforming America into a druggenfrei Utopia, and she sure as hell won’t be the last.