It’s ironic that the county, which feeds people’s fears through press releases like the one published today on the results of “green harvest” — replete with a photo of two rusty pig traps supposedly planted as “booby traps” to protect a cannabis crop — is now having to contend with people’s fears about a youth drug treatment facility in Lihue.
In fact, folks are so fearful about the prospect that young kids would be trying to kick drugs — not use drugs, not sell drugs, not make drugs, but get OFF drugs — in the proximity of their neighborhood that they staged sidewalk protests.
They are so fearful that were willing to reveal their cold, callous ignorance by being photographed with a sign that read “no treatment center here” — so fearful that they were willing to spend hours of their time attending a meeting last night because their fears hadn’t been fully addressed and they wanted to make sure their fears were heard.
For decades they’ve heard the county drug czars, politicians and cops talk about the scourge of illegal drugs, the “ongoing battle,” to use the words of Police Chief Darryl Perry, against drugs. Is it any surprise they don’t want any aspect of “the war” in their neighborhood?
For decades they’ve heard lurid tales about how desperate addicts will go to any lengths to score, seen a procession of people arrested for crimes associated with their drug use, been told over and over again that these folks are the dregs of society, deserving only of harsh punishment and isolation. Is it any surprise that they don’t want addicts living near their homes?
Never mind that they, themselves, might have medicine chests stocked with the valium and vicodin, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs that help them through the day. They don’t see themselves as addicts or users because their addictions are legal, sanctioned by doctors and covered by insurance so they don’t have to forge checks and steal to get their fix.
And besides, they’re the supposedly upstanding members of society — so upstanding, in fact, that they're lobbying to prevent kids, the most vulnerable segment of our society, from getting help because of a selfish, fear-based NIMBY attitude.
What’s so irrational about all this is that they’re willing to have toxic gas stations and emissions-spewing cars traveling on Kuhio Highway in the proximity of their homes, a drug-loaded hospital, a crap-filled big box store. They’re willing to live downwind of the airport and pesticide-drenched GMO crops. But they draw the line at a house full of supervised kids trying to achieve the sobriety that may keep them out of jail, give them a chance to live a full life.
Fear is a very powerful weapon. And as the police chief and county drug czar and mayor strive to overcome public opposition for this long overdue treatment center, they’re looking down the barrel of a gun that they helped load.