There was a fake commercial for “Heroin A.M.” on Saturday Night Live this past weekend and all kinds of people are freaking out over it. I think satire is an important part of communication, education and advocacy. Ford Vox wrote a nice piece on it.
“”Heroin A.M.” did a great job elevating awareness that many seemingly “normal” and high-functioning people are abusing opioids. This skit is savvy satire that portrays the medicalization and commercialization of a “street drug,” and that seemingly absurd scenario speaks to the underlying truth that a haywire medical system ruled by corporate greed, bad regulations and complacent doctors actually generated this problem in the first place.” (to read Mr. Vox’s CNN article, click here)
One woman disagreed with me and voiced her displeasure thus: “First you drank the Kool-Aid from Partnership for Drug Free Kids and now you talk about “satire” and a heroin epidemic. I hope to God your following is as small as it should be. Oh and I do understand satire and irony. I also understand the word “dangerous” and your posts are exactly that.”
This got me thinking about other insults and diatribes against me over the years.
When I wrote “The Suboxone Problem That No One is Talking About” for Hazelden-Betty Ford, I received the following emails:
a) I hope you die a fiery death
b) You have no understanding of addiction or recovery
c) You are in the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry
d) You’re a fucking asshole
After “Why Colleges and Universities Need Naloxone,” I received a message that colleges would be better served “if they just let the junkies die” and another one that said “why should we worry about saving scum bags when there are so many good kids on campus that have real needs?”
After several deaths and negative incidents in the fall of 2014, I wrote two articles on why colleges should shut down fraternities and sororities on their campuses. I received dozens of missives, including:
a) You don’t know how to have fun
b) You have no understanding of college
c) Your an asshole!!! (their grammar, not mine)
d) You better not ever come to Alabama
Back in 2012 when we held the NJ Opiate Task Force Hearings, I was called some nasty things by other professionals and advocates in the field of addiction/recovery that disagreed with me. I could go on and on and make this a 10,000 word article, but you get the idea. Don’t feel bad for me and certainly don’t get defensive – I am both used to it and have thick skin. One of the key lessons that I work on with my students at the Rutgers School of Social Work is to not demonize those that you disagree with and try to find common ground. I explain that you not only fail to win people over that you are arguing with, but you may lose those that might have otherwise been sympathetic towards your cause (I have seen Michael Moore do this for much of his career). Part of the alarming aspect of American society and our political discourse is the nasty language and hyperbolic rhetoric that so many use. Regardless of what side of the political aisle you sit, you might recognize that members of your party accuse the other side of either “trying to fundamentally destroy America” or “not caring about the people.” Those who utter statements like that are both wrong. More often than not, both sides care and want good things but are coming from different perspectives and have a variety of view points.
I’ll conclude with my favorite insult I’ve ever received, and it was sent to me this past February by a recovery advocate after I criticized a program for not having enough training or supervision:
I’m glad the Vikings lost. You are both losers.