Recently, I was waiting for a flight at the airport when I was treated to a conversation that was both extremely common and abjectly horrifying.
Over comically large glasses of white wine for about 10:15 a.m., a woman near me was talking loudly about the “bums” and “druggies” with her travel partners. They voiced very strong (and pretty predictable) opinions that seemed to be almost entirely fueled by right-wing talking points. And then it took a turn.
“If it were up to me,” she explained, gulping her wine, “I would make a huge batch of fentanyl brownies and give them out at encampments. That would take care of the problem.”
Poisoning people. She was joking — hopefully joking — about poisoning a large population of humans whom, I have to assume, she has never met.
Setting aside the logistical nightmare of a mass poisoning — dignified handling of indigent individuals is already an operational challenge for our region’s medical examiners — this level of dehumanization is equal parts unsurprising and disgusting. Imagine even entertaining the idea of actively murdering a bunch of strangers for the crime of being … what? Poor and in public? Inconvenient?
And, you know, part of me gets it. The residual effects of the human-made, greed-driven opioid crisis have touched everyone. From crimes of necessity, like package theft and car break-ins, to the physiological changes our bodies and brains experience when we see aggravated poverty, it’s enough to harden a person. Under this failed system, we are all operating with a scarcity mentality, fighting over scraps of dignity. Meanwhile, the Sackler family continues to reap the rewards of the destruction they created.
And aren’t those the people we should be turning against? Not those who took medication as prescribed, only to learn far too late that it wasn’t as safe as their doctors told them, but those doctors, who prescribed that medication because a supremely rich family was pushing pills?
We are all the victims of corporate greed and the consolidation of wealth. And we — including you, airport woman — are closer to living in a tent encampment than a sprawling estate paid for by the sale of prescription drugs. Our enemies are not the people trying to survive from one day to the next: Our enemies are the people who, in fact, did commit a kind of mass poisoning. The ones who not only got away with it but have made a literal killing.
Read more of the Oct. 4-10, 2023 issue.