Friday, June 04, 2004

From Art Linkletter to 5 Years Per Gram?

Man, I love the internet.

Hugh Hewitt is broadcasting from Disneyland today, and apparently is going to spend a lot of that time talking about Disneyland and other related trivia. The first few minutes or so showcased him conversing with a bubbly company rep.

Yeah, I think I'll pass on that one.

However, my 120 seconds or so was not wasted altogether. The nice Disney lady mentioned something about Art Linkletter and his long association with Disney. His is a name I could only place as having heard once before on The Simpsons when Ned's house is hurricaned into oblivion. Taking shelter at the church afterwards, Reverend Lovejoy phones in some counseling and then adds, "If you need some additional solace, by the way, I think I have... something or other by Art Linkletter in my office."

It was funny without even knowing who he was.

Anyway, hearing a guy's name vaguely referenced once is simply not enough to get me interested. But twice? Brother, I'm there.

So, what does the Google fairy spit out at me?

Well, ok, so he was the host of "Kids Say the Darndest Things" for a while, plus about a dozen similar types of shows. Well then, that makes the Simpsons joke even funnier.

Checking the IMDB page for him reveals that his daughter was apparently that girl (or one of those girls) who took acid and jumped out a window while under the brief delusion that she could fly. This subsequently led to Art participating in a presidential advisory council on drug abuse.

Ok, so TV stars have kids who like to take drugs. I can buy that. Just ask Carroll O'Connor.

But jumping out a window on LSD? Color me skeptical. I've never once been under the impression that I could fly while on acid, never even got close. And that includes the time I was standing on a roof listening to a guy on the ground try to convince me that I actually could, and should try it right now. Yeah, that guy was an asshole.

Anyway, a quick perusal over at Snopes reveals the following:

Diane's death helped further a widespread urban legend that lives on to this day yet which was around before her fatal plunge. According to a popular story that warns young people about the dangers of drug use, "some girl" jumps from a window while on an acid trip because the drug fools her into thinking she can fly. The claims immediately made after Diane's death that she had been on LSD, coupled with her method of suicide, seemed to some to fit this existing cautionary tale, and afterwards her demise was pointed to as an example of this legend's coming true.

Yet it wasn't true, although members of her family attempted to blur the line between what had happened to Diane and her use of drugs as a possible cause for it. We can only speculate upon their reasons for doing so, but we should note that it is not all uncommon for those left behind after a suicide to work to convince others the death was one of misadventure and not the deliberate ending of a life. There is still a stigma attached to suicide, and families may view cloaking such matters in more socially acceptable terms as one final act of loyalty they can perform for the one who has gone before.

A lengthy review of the evidence follows. It's not cut and dry, but the preponderence seems to be with the not-LSD's-fault camp.

So, you either find this stuff fascinating or are itching to give me a wedgie for wasting your time.

But as for myself, I'm now curious whether Diane's death and the media focus that followed played any part in making LSD one of the most severely punishable drug offenses in the country. There's still a five year minimum for possession of a single dose on a piece of paper.

I realize the severity can be attributed at least initially to the fact that the "one gram" threshold was probably meant to refer to pure LSD, one gram of which amounts to about 10,000 doses. But it might yet still explain why law enforcement and courts have been able to interpret the statute as not distinguishing between the amount of the actual LSD and any sort of delivery system it's mixed with, such as 100 micrograms placed on a sugarcube that weighs 1 gram being easily apt to put you in the hole for a five years.