Andrea Peyser may not be known outside the five boroughs or the New York City metro area, but she is a daily columnist in the New York Post, and she has an axe to grind with addicts. Armed with extensive research and study in, well, nothing, she pontificates about addiction and addicts, beating the same drum every time addiction catches her eye. Without compassion or empathy, Peyser regaled us with her ignorance when Philip Seymour Hoffman died, and again this month when Kevin McEnroe, son of Tatum O'Neil and John McEnroe, was arrested on a drug charge. Peyser does not believe addiction is a disease (really, Dr. Peyser?) but merely selfish and poor behavior. Her themes are the familiar refrain that people addled with addiction should stop, are selfish, are lazy, are unable to learn their lesson, and deserve their plight.
I have challenged Peyser on several occasions to a public discourse on the subject. She has declined. When I observed that that was "cowardly," given her sure and steady knowledge and certainty on the subject, she replied, "Name calling won't solve anything." Perhaps she is right -- unless the name one is being called is "common Junkie," one of her favorites. I have persisted in asking her a few more questions:
Do diabetics who fall off their management plans deserve amputations?
Do obese people deserve hypertension, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes?
And then, of course, there is HIV/AIDS. Roll the clock back 30 years and replace "drugs" with "AIDS" and Peyser is easily one of those people believing a generation of young people made their bed with HIV, so why should we learn to treat it? Peyser has responded to my questions by saying, "I am politely asking you to stop." I believe the schoolyard adage "You can dish it out, but you cant take it" applies here. Are we to sit and be marginalized, shamed and judged by Peyser and people like her? We could, or we could push back, letting her know how we or someone we know has struggled, and not because they were "having a party" but because they had a complex brain malady that requires treatment and maintenance to remain in remission. The irony is that Peyser believes "How many times do addicts have to be told?" applies to her. She is denying fact, science, common sense and compassion.