This really made me angry
From the mid 1990s and through to the year 2000, I had a very good male friend. It was one of those rare situations (for males past a certain age especially) where two guys just bond and take great pleasure in the thoughts and company of each other.
My friend was a cop. In fact, he was a drug cop. I got to know him from covering the police beat for a local newspaper, and my friendship with him also had a payoff in that I got a number of terrific stories thanks to my relationship with the guy. And, as he thought I was a good fellow, and one to be trusted, the other cops in the detachment began to regard me in the same positive manner. Consequently, I managed to get myself ‘embedded’ and therefore was able to don flack jacket, etc. and join the ‘boys’ on drug raids, chopper rides and many other excellent adventures. Adventures that were documented by me, and eventually led to me being given official recognition as the top crime-prevention writer for the province of British Columbia on one occasion.
And then, one November day in the year 2000, my cop friend died. He died utterly unexpectedly. He was only 43-years-old and had two daughters not yet in their teens at the time, not to mention a lovely wife. He not only died but, it was revealed a few weeks later, that my friend – the ‘drug’ cop – had died of a drug overdose in the form of an injected speedball of heroin and cocaine. In other words, he hadn’t snuck out to the garage to suck on a doobie, this was heavy-duty drug use.
And in that, despite my grief over the loss of my friend, I was furious about what he’d done. How dare he? He was a fraud and a hypocrite! He would go into schools and tell the kids about the perils of drug use, while he was using the shit himself. But then, as happens, cooler emotions prevailed. By this time I was working as an addictions counsellor and I asked clients what they thought. Consensus was that “what better lesson for kids?” In other words, nobody is immune and addiction takes no prisoners. And with such thoughts, I was able to let my grief pass and conclude that as outrageous as the circumstances around his death were, there was another perspective to be considered.
Since that time I hadn’t thought much about it, since the incident was nearly seven years ago.
And then, on Saturday, in the Vancouver Sun (that city’s prominent daily paper) I looked at a page and did a double-take. There was a photo of my friend standing amidst the plants in a pot plantation. It was a press photo I had taken. It was also the last photo I’d ever taken of my friend.
My curiosity piqued, I read the accompanying article, wondering why in hell this photo and references to the circumstances of my friend’s death were deemed relevant.
As I read the article, I concluded quickly that the use of the photo and references were utterly gratuitous. In other words it was a cheap-shot revolving around a cop-turned-bad and how the police-inspired anti-drug program for schools called DARE was just a piece of crap and of no worth whatsoever. My friend was ‘used’ to prove how terrible DARE was, especially since he was a strong proponent of the program that is used in schools throughout North America.
My friend’s connection to the material in the article was tenuous enough to be virtually nonsensical. And, for the ensuing diatribe against DARE, no empirical evidence was provided to indicate why it was such a bad program, though the writer attested to having access to tons of documentation to validate his claim. I could, by the way, lay my hands on an equal amount of documentation refuting the writer’s stance. But, my point is not a pissing contest over the virtues or lack of virtues of DARE, my point is the gratuitous use of what was ultimately a wretched family and enforcement tragedy to establish a vague tie to a story.
In that I can only offer the thought that the writer is a youngish dude and maybe a bit of sensitivity is something that might come with time – or might not.