Obviously, the topic of safe injection sites in King County, and elsewhere, is controversial. We should encourage debate and dialogue, but instead, some advocates are trying to silence opponents by despicably portraying them as heartless.
Over the weekend, the lead singer of local band Minus the Bear took issue that I support a city councilmember saying safe injection sites shouldn’t come to Bellevue. But rather than explain to me why my position was wrong, he turned to a common tactic of Progressive activists: pretend they’re morally superior and demonize anyone in opposition.
“Safe injection sites save lives and tax payer expense,” Jake Snider tweeted to me. “Why are you so excited about more people dying as a result of the heroin epidemic?”
Snider’s response is deplorable and nothing more than virtue signaling. Rather than do any good, he’ll jump on Twitter to tell the world how evolved he is on the issue. Using people living with an addiction as props to make himself feel morally superior? Oh, how heroic.
Opponents of safe injection sites aren’t excited about people dying from heroin; we actually want them to seek lasting treatment. In an LA Times interview last year, I explained it’s more compassionate to actually get at the root cause of addiction. That’s why I support free (subsidized by tax payers) addiction and healthcare services for people suffering from this disease. What I don’t support is any accommodation of a disease that can never be safe. The activists pushing safe injection sites are the very ones who have been in power in this county during a time the opioid crisis has worsened. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to jump on their latest solution, an idea that’s more ideologically-motivated, than solution-based.
Safe injection sites are not safe
We call them “safe injection sites” but they’re not safe; it’s never safe to inject heroin into your body. It’s safer, yes, when you judge it by diseases spread by shared needles and the possibility of overdose death. But to say it’s safe is disingenuous.
Snider, and others point to Vancouver as a beacon of hope in going after the opioid crisis since they allow for safe injection sites. Snider and the advocates should actually look at the data.
First, the area surrounding the safe injection site in Vancouver is an absolute dump, which is why, in part, any city that respects its citizens would reject one. Seattle doesn’t care so they’ll allow for one (let’s see if they put it in Capitol Hill where the advocates live).
Second, and more importantly, just over a month ago, the Mayor of Vancouver called the rising overdose deaths as a “bloodbath” since they’re on track to record over 400 OD deaths by year’s end.
“The near-record number of drug overdose deaths in the fentanyl crisis is a bloodbath in all corners of Vancouver with no end in sight,” Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a statement. “With a new B.C. government, there’s now some hope for getting people desperately needed treatment options swiftly and without stigma.”
Across all of British Columbia, OD deaths from illicit drugs are up 88 percent from the same time last year.
I understand some will use this data to show the need for more safe-injection sites. They shouldn’t. The data shows more and more people are getting addicted. Perhaps we should actually address the issue before they become addicts in need of safe injection sites?
“But Jason,” the advocates say, “the safe injection site in Vancouver, when used, is working. There’s data that says so!” It’s not quite as simple as that. From the Toronto Sun:
Dr. Colin Mangham, a researcher and consultant in drug prevention for 37 years, told the Sun from B.C. last week he was ‘shocked at how weak’ the research was into the effectiveness of InSite…
Mangham says the 30-35% reported decline in fatal overdoses among those using InSite was subject to ‘interpretation bias’ — meaning the same people who created the program did the research on it.
Always be wary of data coming from biased sources.
But beyond this clear issue, why are we so scared of having a debate about this? I’m taking a position on safe injection sites. My position is neither right or wrong. It’s my opinion based on the data I have available and is informed by my experiences and worldview. Unlike Snider and some of his ilk, I don’t assign nasty motives to anyone who opposes me. The only reason I’d do that is to stifle debate, which I’d do if I didn’t feel like my position was strong to begin with. And maybe that’s where Snider is coming from. His position is weak and, toss in some unhealthy arrogance, it’s a good way to insult opposition.