'Deserves' got nothing to do with it... Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven (1992)
Earlier this month I saw another opioid overdose. It's not first, it won't be the last.
Certainly it is easy to be hard-hearted and cynical but, it's my duty to myself and to society to not allow such feelings towards the daily deaths make me jaded and uncaring. To not simply shrug and declare they deserve it.
Opioid induced overdoses have supplanted guns and cars as the biggest killers* in America. According to CDC data, the United States has suffered 841,000 overdose deaths since 1999, 70% of those are opiate related; 50,000 opioid caused deaths in 2019 alone.
The levels of opiate addiction currently plaguing the US is something we've seen as a Nation in very select few times; i.e. after US Wars. Those wounded in battle also became addicted to pain medication. At first due to ignorance of narcotics functioning but now, we've decided to make ourselves victims by empowering the Sackler family and their Cartel Purdue Pharma.
Watching the Netflix series Dopesick, Michael Stuhlbarg portrays Richard Sackler in a blended pastiche of Hannah Ardent's banality of evil and a wispy voiced Don Corleone. The series also unflinchingly portrays the Sackler family as the immoral drug dealing kingpins they are; oblivious to anything but money and contemptuous of laws and morality. The series Dopesick is based on Beth Macy's best-selling 2018 book.
Not everyone agrees with the portrayal of the Sackler family being villains every NPR (Nice Polite Republicans) story on the Sackler's takes great pains to repeatedly mention the Sackler family denies wrongdoing and no member of the family has ever been charged with a crime. But, it does feel the last few years have changed the narrative and all the ostentatious donations to museums and pitiful donations to fight addiction earn them no credit. If only the American Justice treated the Sackler family as harshly as it does men selling loose cigarettes on the street.
In 2015, I watched a film called Heroin Cape Cod. It was an unflinching look at the drug use. There were no heroics, no glorious reunifications with the family, no arc of redemption. By 2015 public health officials had catalogued a tripling of overdose deaths since 1999. In reality it was most likely an undercount of opiate overdose related deaths. Since then we had the treasonous criminal Trump in the White House who, of course, ignored it and so the deaths are still being ignored by the Republican Party writ large.
For 50 years, Republicans have linked drug use with criminality. Worse than that Republicans were quite adamant the drug use was a moral failing and in no uncertain terms those who suffer from addiction are undeserving of care or even the barest compassion. The Sackler's apparently knew this implicitly or explicitly as they spent decades falsely proclaiming the safety of their narcotics and blaming victims of addiction as criminals. Conservatives have since Nixon been primed to blame addiction on low character, genetic flaws (i.e. black people), or immoral behavior.
Dualistic thinking dominates the right and all facets of conservative ideology. There are no shades of gray. There are no subtleties. There is no subjective reality. And more to the point, only their interpretation of objective reality exists and it conforms exactly to rightwing beliefs. Now there are 3+ generations of conservatives who have steadily and increasingly absorbed rightwing propaganda and can not find grace to treat addiction any other way than those people deserve to die.