Shots Across the Bow

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I Need Your Opinion

I've never moderated comments or had members here, but I'm starting to wonder if maybe I should. I want to provide for solid discussion of the issues, but since I am dealing with issues that rouse a lot of passions, I want to maintain the level of the discussion, as well as the tone. The KNS removes only the absolute worst comments, allowing the noise to drown out any reasonable discussion. I don't want that to happen here, and I need to find out the best way to maintain the level of discourse without unduly burdening you.

I have a couple of options.
  1. I can moderate comments. The advantage is that nobody has to sign up or do anything different. The only change would be that comments may take a while to show up as I don't have time to revewi comments all day. That could significantly hinder the discussion.

  2. I could set up moderation so that site members comments would post immediately, while guests would have their comments moderated. The benefits are that folks who signed in would be able to comment freely while others would have their comments moderated. The draw back is the sign in process.

I'm not sure which idea I like better or if I will implement this at all. I'm undecided which is why I'm asking for your input.

I've also thought about requiring people to post with their real names; there's nothing like a little accountability to get you to think before you type, which is one of the reasons I've always posted and commented under my own name. I've decided against that for now, since some people have valid reasons for maintaining their privacy, and hen you're discussing drugs, addiction, and criminal activity, discretion is extremely important.

So, you tell me. Comment moderation? Site membership? Or just keep it open and delete/archive where necessary?

Posted by Rich
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With membership, you tend to get a closed loop feedback system.
When you start to delete responses you don't like, you also get a closed loop, as this will also keep people from bothering to respond.
And, when you close comments because you don't like what someone has to say about your subject, that probably has at least as much impact as requiring membership, and maybe more.

You had a very mild response to your "Old Dog..." post. (Yes, that was quite a gentle comment thread for that subject, I was impressed) Frankly, if that was a problem for you, you might consider eliminating the comments ability entirely.
Posted by Will  on  10/09  at  12:09 AM

Will, thanks for your input.

Here's where I'm coming from, specifically regarding the comments of 'A Critic.'

It's not that I didn't like what he was saying, or even that he was disagreeing with me. I know that the only people who have something to teach me are those who disagree with me.

'A Critic's problem wasn't that he disagreed; it was that he disagreed but failed to provide any sort of intelligent basis for doing so. His attack on my wife was irritating, but I continued to allow him to comment as long as he kept it clean.

What ended the discussion is when he began to just make stuff up to buttress his argument. After I posted my comment demonstrating the severe dangers of overdose when using heroin, based on the LD-50 dose, he came back with a comment about the "RD-50, (Recreational Dose)" that he quite simply pulled out of his butt.

There is an RD50, but it has to do with Respiratory Distress due to exposure to an airborne contaminate, not recreational use of a drug.

While in many cases, that's no big deal, in this case, it is. My purpose with this topic is serious. I want to host a discussion aimed at developing a solid, effective collection of policies and plans to protect our children from drug abuse. This is a huge project, one that is going to take all my spare time and then some. I can't afford to waste hours rebutting the same positions repeatedly, nor will I allow such egregious disinformation to remain on my site unchallenged.

Something has to give. Either I take some form of control over commenting, making sure that comments are relevant and contribute to the original post, or I spend a chuck of time dispelling propaganda from zealots with closed minds, and in so doing, produce less original content.

That's why I'm considering making changes to the comment system.

Closing comments entirely is not an option; I don't have all the answers, and the whole purpose of these posts is to stimulate discussion from a wide range of viewpoints, which brings up the second reason for removing 'a critic's' final posts. We want to protect our children from the dangers of drug use; he stated in his final comment that the only thing we could do was to stop abusing our children, and give them access to pure drugs.

He implied, and not for the first time, that the primary reason kids get addicted to drugs is to escape abuse from their parents.

I will not allow that kind of garbage here. Period.

In any event, I share your concerns, which is why I'm opening this up to everybody to discuss instead of acting unilaterally.

Thanks again for your input.
Posted by Rich Hailey  on  10/09  at  08:02 PM

Parents have to be willing to hold the mirror up to themselves/ *I* have to be willing to hold the mirror up to myself...we all do.

It *is* true that many, many addicts are products of abuse/neglect... but beyond that, we need to be willing to look at ourselves and our society, at the impact of *our* world on fetuses in utero, with their growing brains; growing synapses...Stress impacts the growth of synapsis. For instance, a pregnant woman under stress (like so many of us are) has cortisol flowing through her amniotic fluid, which impacts her fetus. It's not her fault. It is what it is. But it impacts the growth of the human infant's brain. I think that to address *addiction* we need to address those things that impact the development of the human brain--from in-utero and beyond. Because that impact is significant. No matter how much a mother, or father loves his child. Or breast feeds. Or attaches. I think that addiction is a bio-social-psycho process. For instance, my nephew , who is 23 now (and undiagnosed adhd as a youngster)...once he *tried* drugs...it was as though his life began! He would take anything he could get his hands on! He is a beautiful young man now, and my sister never let him move back to their hometown (too much of a trigger)...but after re-hab, and therapeutic boarding school (and a second mortgage on the house)...he's doing well. Amazing. It could easily have gone the other way. I remember. As a toddler, and baby, he was always *intense*. Hyper-sensitive. Precocious. I adore him. But his sister, when my sister caught her with pot, told her to "knock it off or you're out". And she did. Her *brain* was different then her brother's. And my niece now, at 21, doesn't have a problem with substances. My nephew can't even have a glass of wine. It's complicated. I *got* what "a critic" was saying, even though he might have been being provocative. And I'm not sure that you're clear on what the issue is. The "addiction-prone brain" is created by multiple sources. It's a conflagration of events. Many of which are out of our control. (probably *all* of which are out of our control)...you know, there's no anthropological evidence that "addiction" - to the level we see it now--existed in pre-industrial society.

My husband was a "junkie" in 1969. He "got clean", then his church sent him to college. He got a college degree, then a master's. When I met him in law school, he was "clean" (ie abstinent) for 20 years. But abstinence isn't "sobriety". (which I didn't understand at the time). During our marriage, he had 6 operations - on his knees and rotator cuffs--and was prescribed vicodin, oxycontin--he really was in pain! But that triggered his addiction. He died of an overdose. ( I imagine that the *process* of addiction was laid down in his brain when he was an infant...I remember him saying to me once that the first time he used heroin, when he was 18, it was like a "warm blanket". The addiction was waiting to happen. But we aren't going to eliminate heroin. We aren't going to destroy all poppy plants, after all.

Anyway, once his addiction was re-triggered---well I didn't know what was going on, and he didn't either (I found a journal he kept after he died, which broke my heart) ...but I *do* believe that if our society accepted *all* human beings as part of the fabric of our society; and if our society made a space for someone like my husband, to use his drug safely (while at the same time *offering* - WITHOUT demanding abstinence; and if he had a safe place to inject, he would be alive today.

One more thing. Our son, who is 13 now, and HATES drugs, *still* shows signs of "addiction"--I've been talking to him about it alot lately, as I learn more. I don't think he'll use "drugs"...but I don't like his compulsion with the x-box, or with his computer...it *feels* alot like addiction to me. And behavioral addictions are as real as chemical addictions. (my husband died 7 years ago and I've been thinking about this alot, and reading about this alot...)

So, the way I see it you have a few things going on here that - the immediate problem of kids who are using drugs. What to do? But beyond that we have the problem of "addiction", and what that means, and from whence it comes, and how it is triggered... and what our society will do? for parents. for children. It's complex. But I think the answer *has* to start with love and compassion.

Anyway...
Posted by Marisa  on  10/09  at  08:54 PM

the last thing that threw me about your post was this: "we're losing far too many good, talented people to addiction.

It has to stop."


what does that mean? that if the ones being lost *weren't* "good" or "talented" that it's ok? (I don't think you mean that, but when we write, and aren't *speaking* and seeing facial expressions, we are left with the typed words)... I remember once, when my husband and I were first married, we saw a woman, of undetermined age, squatting under the bridge near our apartment, and he said "she wasn't born to become this"...

If you want to block me, that's fine. I don't hide who I am behind a pseudonym. My name is marisa. I live in NYC. And I'm longing to have a *real* conversation about addiction. Which includes our role in it - because I believe we all have a role in it. our society has a role in it. The existence of drugs won't end. It grows on the planet. It's the *addiction* that needs to be curtailed. The brain made susceptible to addiction.

I don't think "a critic" was out of line. I think he has something to say. Even if he might have been perceived to be provocative.
Posted by Marisa  on  10/09  at  09:43 PM

@Marisa, You have done an excellent job of laying out some of the parameters of the problem. While my primary focus is on protecting kids, we absolutely must take a look at all facets of the problem if our solution is going to be effective.

My son was in a car accident, spent 42 days in the ICU, much of that on very heavy doses of narcotics. I worry constantly that he is now more vulnerable to addiction; and there is research to back up my worries. That's one of the reasons I am very careful when trying to allocate responsibility for addiction. As you point out, there are many causes and many drivers.

Critic did not acknowledge that. Instead, he chose to paint with a very broad brush. Kids who use are abused by their parents; there is nothing we can do to stop them; drug use, even heroin, is actually safer than drinking coffee.

Those statements were counterproductive for two reasons. First, they were demonstrably false, and two, they distracted from the goal; protecting our kids.

Provocative is fine; it stimulates discussion. Putting out false, misleading information is not fine; insulting the parents of kids who become addicts is not fine.

That's why his comments were removed; not because he had a different point of view.

I want your continued input here because it is based on reality and hard won experience. We will probably disagree on some points, maybe many of them, but you are honestly seeking solutions, and that's all I ask for.

And as for my quote, let me expand it by saying that everybody has the potential to be good and talented. Drug addiction blocks the expression of that talent, and that's a tragic waste.

Nobody sets out in life with the dream of being a street junkie. The tragedy is that so many drug users wind up there.

Allow me to point you to <a href="http://www.stabilityforourtime.com/index.php/stability/comments/the_gospel_according_to_mark/">this post</a> for a different take on this very subject.
Posted by Rich Hailey  on  10/09  at  10:22 PM

fwiw, if your son wasn't addicted to anything prior to his accident, he probably won't be now...I was dx'ed with breast cancer 5.5 years ago, and was on pain killers (percocet) for more than a month after surgery. Until I didn't need them anymore. And now, every year, prior to my mammogram, I get a prescription for Xanax (4 pills - 2 for the night before, and two the day of...) because it's so incredibly HARD and frightening to go and get a mammogram for me (after 14 months of chemo and 5 months of radiation - my doc said---"you know, I can give you a scrip"...the only time I take it is when I have a mammogram)... But I appreciate your fear for your son. I get it. I really do. But I think if the brain wasn't already *primed* for addiction (eg depletion of dopamine), then "addiction" won't happen.

And you're right--no one sets out dreaming of being a junkie on the street. But I think that the way we view "drug addicts"-the way our society vilifies them---as opposed to folks who smoke, or overeat, or exercise to the nth degree (all of which might point to an *addiction*) is what puts them "on the streets".

Thank you for you link. I really want an open conversation about this. Which explores OUR roles in the evolution of addiction.

you know, my nephew is an addict. and an artist. an incredibly gifted musician. but one of the things that bothered me when he was first going though his therapeutic boarding school was the all the weight fell on *him*...and it seemed to me that it's not fair. that there was something about the family (me included); and then beyond that, something about his community, and the, ultimately the society, that all met in a perfect storm...
Posted by Marisa  on  10/09  at  10:56 PM

and you're right--or Mark's right...we are all wildflowers...that's where compassion lies.
Posted by Marisa  on  10/09  at  11:20 PM

How about allowing users to sign in using Facebook? I am all for that. I am perfectly willing to own my statements and not hide my identity. Would that be possible to do?
Posted by Michelle  on  10/12  at  10:48 AM

Rich - I think you may be trying to do two different things. One sounds like a research project, or possibly a book - gathering what information is available from various authorities on the problem at hand - be they data or experience based. The other is something like: creating a forum for open conversation and the exchange of ideas for addressing that problem. Community brainstorming.

Obviously, these don't have to be mutually exclusive. But it might be frustrating for participants if the parameters of the discussion are not generally agreed to and clearly laid out for reference. (And realistically, it may be that the only way to achieve that kind of consensus is to involve your conversation partners in the formulation.)

Personally, I think one of the most important aspects of a good issue-centered discussion is an up-front acknowledgement by participants that none of us come to the conversation with "the answer" already figured out. (If any of us did, we wouldn't really need to talk about it, right?)
Posted by Luke  on  10/12  at  04:43 PM

Michelle, that's an interesting possibility and I will look into it. Right now though, I'm not sure that any form of registration is really needed.

I'm leaning towards leaving things as they are. Most of the comments, whether I agree or disagree with them, are on point. We're dealing with contentious issues, ones that can arouse tremendous emotions in both sides and I'm looking to channel that passion, not choke it off. So far, I think leaving things open is working ok.

We'll just see how it progresses.
Posted by Rich Hailey  on  10/12  at  09:53 PM

Luke, I don't see it as two separate activities. I see it as a cloud based think tank. I have to provide a framework to guide the discussion, otherwise everything devolves into another endless chitchat with nothing new to show. By injecting some formal risk analysis/management techniques into the discussion, I'm hoping to come out of this with a broad based set of community level responses to the threat of drugs in our neighborhoods.

So rather than two separate things, I'm trying to harness the dynamism of a community forum to produce tangible results in the form of a set of drug policies that we can enact at the community level to protect our kids.

As much as they can be protected.

And I agree with you completely; if I thought I had all the answers, I'd turn commenting off and just dazzle you all with my brilliance. *grin*
Posted by Rich Hailey  on  10/12  at  09:59 PM

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