Friday, October 10, 2003

Addiction Is Not A Laughing Matter

Millions of Americans are addicted to psychoactive drugs, among other things. Today, we find out that Rush Limbaugh has a serious drug problem. Is it an addiction? Who knows. Often, to escape the clutches of the law, individuals will feign addiction in order to be treated with more kindness and compassion.

In regards to painkillers, it is very likely that Rush Limbaugh is an addict, whether or not he truly believes it. Perhaps more important would be his self-realization that he has a "problem", and whatever the nature of that problem, he needs to get help. For it is seriously impacting his life, and driving him to illegal behavior.

I've never liked Rush Limbaugh, the personality, and do not know the man. I disagree with much of his ranting, if not all of it. Let this episode be a lesson to him, and to his followers and listeners, that acting and responding with compassion is a good thing. That not being too strict with the law, in cases where one's capacity to make sound judgements is diminished by addiction, or other means, is a free decision and option for our society.

We have options. Rush has options. In a strick law-and-order state, there would be no escape hatch for law breakers through the claim of addiction. That there should be this escape hatch, in the sense of acknowledgement that intent is 3/4 of the law, and that addiction greatly affects the perception and intent of an individual, is obvious. To a compassionate heart. To an empathetic soul.

So let's hope this experience changes Rush for the better. Causes him and others like him to see that there are a lot of gray areas, and we need to adapt to them with flexibility and with heart, not just shows of reasoning and strength. Perhaps this episode will lead to an authentic outbreak of "compassionate conservatism". I would welcome it, as would the hundreds of thousands of drug offenders currently behind bars in America today.