The Ecphorizer


Issue #62 (January 1987)

Dear Editor:

I think "Palko's Payable Piss-Test Proposal" (October 86) was written in jest; I enjoy Palko's humor. In any case, it self-destructs. It is Friday and you have a weekend date but are undercapitalized. So you put on an act for the boss, who gives you $50 to take the test. Of course you pass, but now you have $50. Eventually the boss gets wise, forgets about PPP-TP, and simply cans your ass. End of PPP-TP.

There is no real distinction between drug use and abuse. The difference is a moving gray line, changing from person to person from time to time. I doubt if anyone knows exactly when they cross the line. Most "antis" say there is no use, only abuse, and cite hard data to prove their point. Any recovering alcoholic will tell you that one drink is too many and ten is not enough.

Regarding alcohol, several states (California and Oregon, for example) have court-tested laws making it a crime to drive with more than a specific level of blood alcohol. Use versus abuse is not a legal issue. If, in the opinion of the interdicting officer, the person is not fit to drive, then an alcohol test may be ordered. A refusal to take the test is another crime. As a civil libertarian you have a clear, free choice — don't drink or don't drive. Which is what it is all about.

It is only a question of satisfactory definition of symptoms and methodology before similar tests are applied for other substances: don't take drugs or don't get involved in public safety situations. Eventually tests will not be required. For years the airlines have had a hard rule, court-tested and supported by the Airlines Pilots Association, against pilots taking any alcohol several hours before flight time. I don't believe tests are administered; it is simply a way of life with pilots. Those who do not follow are weeded out. I would like a similar rule for all persons involved in public safety — policemen, firemen, etc.

In private employment and routine government agencies (not involved in public safety), when a boss believes you are malfunctioning, out you go. He is not going to order a drug test or give more than a passing thought to why you are malfunctioning. A harsh action in a harsh world.

I agree with Larry Bernard's letter (November 86) that the permanent solution to drug usage is education, education, and more education. In the meantime, make the penalty for crossing the line so severe that one dare not even come close.

Roy Shaw
Ashland, OR

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Dear Editor:

[About the Ecphorizer Awards, {a ballot for which was not included in the uploaded version of Issue 61}] I'm not even going to attempt to vote. With every issue, I find some stuff I like and some stuff I don't like; the proportions vary from issue to issue. The stuff I don't like I shrug off; it would never occur to me to complain about it — I figure it's a matter of taste. I have, from time to time, been moved to let you know about the stuff I did like but my to-do basket is always overflowing with things of higher priority than fan letters to a magazine that I have for years taken for granted (mea culpa?) to keep me amused and/or puzzled and/or emotionally moved.

Anyway, a letter characterizing "a significant garbage" can be disposed of in a container bearing that very name. Perhaps the correspondent would prefer Isolated M? Wilson Quarterly? GQ? The Wall Street Journal? Cosmo? Field & Stream? Variety? 3-2-1 Contact? Hustler? Jeesh!

Please continue to amuse, puzzle and move me and my ilk.

Sally Paskin
Rosemead, CA

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