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Post George Floyd and the Drug Question; from Gary Moore
Created by John Eipper on 05/02/21 5:00 AM

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George Floyd and the Drug Question; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA, 05/02/21 5:00 am)

Gary Moore writes:

While negotiating with our esteemed moderator (and justifiably esteemed) on how sharp a reply I will be allowed to make to Paul Pitlick's sharp comments (April 30th) on my George Floyd post, I saw that a related post by David Duggan has just brought quite a tart and dismissive reply from our same moderator.

On this I sent John a letter with some facts he seemed to have missed in that regard--a very hurried letter for private consumption--but now it occurs to me, with my reply on the earlier exchange postponed, this private letter might as well be public, posted on the Forum, with all its hurried imperfections:

John: I just saw your reply to David Duggan on the fentanyl ingested by George Floyd prior to his death. At first I couldn't believe your reply would so confidently sweep aside that issue, but then I saw your referenced USA Today article and thought of that article through your eyes: the eyes of a concerned and generally informed citizen who has got to get the interpretations somewhere--and from that perspective, nothing in the article seems to raise red flags. But in fact, the whole thing is a red herring, fastening on the ridiculous assertion that the 11 ng/mL of fentanyl in George Floyd's system could have killed three men, and then refuting that exaggeration, together with similar exercises.

Look, the issue is that Floyd's long-term abuse of so many drugs that no one can easily count them (including documented PCP and "purple drank" codeine as well as so much meth he had to go to detox for it, along with 6 to 8 Perks a day, and being caught a year previously with crack cocaine, cocaine powder, and 318 oxycodone pills) could easily militate toward cardiac arrest when shocked by an additional 11 ng/mL of fentanyl--which is a large amount, though a conditioned and physically large user like Floyd might conceivably survive that amount in isolation--if not for the meth he took with it, and all the history. The USA Today article, self-righteously avoiding all this in its woefully caricatured "fact-checking," was one more expression of a dawning orthodoxy that feels itself everywhere confirmed. I've had to walk through the fire of seeing that the journalism underpinning my own professional assumptions is not what I had thought--at least on certain key issues where a certain comforting orthodoxy is to be defended. (I can define for you what I think that orthodoxy is, but why do it now?)

Unfortunately, getting the truth on these issues is not as simple as turning to the media that avoid the gaping inconveniences--and the alternative lies buried in another kind of wilderness like Fox. This is not fair that a citizen might be left with few reliable authorities to rely on--but that doesn't make the voices like the USA Today article true.

You know what happened to Rodney King? Remember him? The guy whose rampage caused a city to burn and 50 deaths, all because of the unfair assertion he was on PCP? Turned out later he was a recurrent PCP addict, who kept running into things with his car, and finally one night (with his hefty settlement money for supposed injustice) he was out at his swimming pool, just smoking a little marijuana (nothing life-threatening), when he suddenly melted down, terrifying his girlfriend as he banged on a glass door while his underwear inexplicably was around his knees, then stumbling and screaming off to the pool, where he fell in and died--either from cardiac arrest or drowning hastened by cardiac arrest. Was it the marijuana that killed him? In the world of that USA Today article (whose whole mindset is avoidance) all you would have needed is a couple of cops on-scene (the girlfriend did soon call them) and we would have the cops blamed for what was in fact quite similar to many other such deaths, when an abused physiological system suddenly hits that last bump.

We shouldn't have to live in a world where there is no convenient authority to trust on certain heavily avoided key issues. We should complain to somebody.

JE comments:  Gary, by orthodoxy do you mean the fear that dwelling on Floyd's drug use leads to the suggestion that he deserved his fate, which leads to the larger fear of being accused of racism?  It's a slippery slope, akin to "victim blaming" for sexual assault, on the grounds that the victim was out on the town, drunk and provocatively dressed.

In symbolically charged cases like the Floyd murder, it takes time and (especially) courage to scrutinize the evidence.  The impossible challenge is to remove politics and the "culture wars" from the process.  You have kept us honest by striving to do just that.

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  • George Floyd's Drug Habits are Legally Irrelevant (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 05/04/21 3:59 AM)
    Gary Moore (May 2nd) provides a lot of detail about George Floyd's drug habits.

    Whether or not George Floyd was a drug addict, no matter how extravagant his drug habits might have been, is legally irrelevant. There is no exception in the laws against murder, for murdering drug addicts, or for that matter, for murdering bad people. George Floyd may or may not have been a drug addict, he may or may not have even been a good person, but none of that changes Chauvin's guilt by one iota.

    Talking about Floyd's drug habits is just an attempt to smear the victim, to make the crime seem, on a visceral level, less heinous. It's a bit like the so-called "he needed killin'" defense, where judges, during more primitive times in our history, sometimes ignored the law and let off murderers when the person killed was someone felt to be particularly egregious. But there is no such defense at law. The elements of the crime of second degree murder are: (a) killing a human being; (b) intentionally or with reckless disregard for human life; and (c) without legal justification. Legal justifications for killing a human being are typically (a) war; (b) self-defense within the legal definition; (c) use of force by a law enforcement officer, where the force is "no more than absolutely necessary"; (d) necessity. Note that nothing about the character or morals of the victim, or his/her drug habits or criminal record, forms any part of any justification for homicide.

    JE comments:  Cameron, Gary Moore never hinted at a "needed killin'" interpretation, although he does suggest that Floyd's drug use may have contributed significantly to his death.  This would be more in the category you addressed in your last post, the "eggshell skull" doctrine.

    Very soon (May 25th) the murder will mark its first anniversary.  We've seen a heck of a lot of history since then.  In the next WAIS entry, Gary further scrutinizes the crime scene.

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    • Citing Floyd's Drug Use Does Not Mean He "Deserved" to Die (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 05/05/21 6:32 AM)

      Gary Moore writes:

      Is Cameron Sawyer (May 4th) accusing me of saying drug addicts should be killed? Whoa. Something very poisonous--but unfortunately very important--is going on here. We're left with the vehemence in the eruption and its baffling irrelevance to what I did say (and thanks to John E for gently pointing out that irrelevance in his comment).

      One way to read the response I awakened is that what I did say was so difficult to confront that it had to be swept off the table--by putting a completely different argument into my mouth, and then responding to that. Which might be startling enough, but there's also the fact that the argument that was put into my mouth is reprehensible. The accuser edged toward fulminating that anyone saying what I had just said was really advocating that "bad people" deserve to die. Whoa again (and for the record, testimony seems to agree that George Floyd, in personal interactions, was far from being a "bad person," but was often kind and considerate--and all that has no bearing whatever on how a drug-ravaged body fits into cause of death).

      That a towering intellect would grow so irrational as to despise me on unrelated grounds is certainly a subject worthy of further scrutiny. But who would have the wisdom?

      And by the way, if Cameron thought my drug list on Floyd was intolerable as posted in the Forum, he should have seen the addendum, sent privately to JE as an afterthought--on more drugs. It went something like this:

      I forgot heroin, the drug that sent Floyd to the hospital with an overdose on March 6, less than three months before his death, in pain so severe that he was doubled over, too incapacitated to drive to the hospital. Along with the more discussed drugs in his system at the May 25 death (fentanyl and methamphetamine) there was free morphine, a metabolite of heroin, meaning ingestion at a point leading up to May 25, along with the meth and fentanyl ingested on the day itself, and marijuana. It hasn't been reported which of these drugs might have been involved the preceding January when, in rapid succession, Floyd was pulled over for speeding and lacking proper licensing, and then a few days later crashed into a vehicle at a stoplight, saying he had fallen asleep. Should we censor from the picture of his bodily state at death the fact that fentanyl-meth pills were proved by his DNA and saliva to have actually been in his mouth during the bizarre shouting eruption that began his death?

      The larger question--the intractable cultural question--is why such censoring of the picture exists, and why any attempt to paint a full picture is called unfair sniping. County Councilwoman Angela Conley tried to get Medical Examiner Andrew Baker fired for honestly including the drug levels in Floyd's autopsy. The reasoning seems to go something like this: The cops choked him, so any mention of drugs is shielding the chokers--so it's not lying at all to hide the drugs; it's being noble. Baker is one of the most noted pathologists in the country, specializing specifically in asphyxia, and he came within a hair of losing his job [June 9 - June 11]--because he was honest.

      JE comments:  I'd like to be the peacemaker here, but it's a tall order.  If there's one thing we've learned in the last year, it's that medicine and politics are inextricably linked.  Primarily regarding Covid, but also tangentially in the George Floyd case.  Interestingly, the expected political divide does no apply to the Moore-Sawyer polemic.  Gary's arguments are not of the usual "they should just behave" type, and Cameron in turn is anything but a knee-jerk "snowflake."

      So, can we just all get along?

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