In picking up this Associated Press story, Katie tells us today that Northfield, Minnesota has become a cesspool of heroin addiction. Yes, let our Commissioner of the Department of Troubling Signs be among the first to link violent and suggestive music videos to the wanton destruction of another burg in small-town America! Katie went after this wire story like a pike after a minnow, not pausing to examine it before inhaling. Before discussing Katie's fight of fancy, however, Spot wants you, boys and girls, to look at the AP story.
When you read the AP story, you will see that it is nothing except the account of the Northfield Chief of Police's hysterical presser.
Well, come on, Spotty, hear him out, anyway!
We will grasshopper. Here are the opening grafs of the article:
Northfield, Minn. — (AP) - Police in this upscale college town say they're fighting an unusual heroin epidemic among high school kids.
More than 150 kids are hooked on the drug, Northfield Police Chief Gary Smith said Tuesday. He decided to publicize the problem with a news conference, where he said that as many as 250 current and former Northfield High School students could be involved - some feeding heroin habits of as much as $800 a day.
The epidemic has increased crime and caused consternation in Northfield, one of the most educated and affluent cities in Minnesota, and home to both Carleton and St. Olaf colleges.
"This is affecting our ability to deal with other community concerns," Smith said. "We find ourselves more often reacting to crimes than preventing them."
Spotty thinks the chief wants a bigger budget! Here's some more from the article:
Smith said investigators first caught wind of the problem when crime started spiking, including a doubling in burglaries and tripling in thefts from autos from 2005 to 2006. It led them to the informal heroin ring at the high school of about 1,300 students.
The ring is comprised mostly of students from white, affluent families who police believe are viewing heroin use as a status symbol. Many are popular students successful in academics and athletics, including one who recently graduated with a 4.0 grade point average.
Let's review, boys and girls.
High school student
You can often identify the heroin addict by the needle marks in his or her arms:
The chief says that Northfield experienced a spike in the crime rate in just a year, and that upwards of 250 present and former Northfield High School students are involved. According to the article, there are about 1300 students at the high school.
Spotty, that about one in five!
Yes, grasshopper, thanks. Now, boys and girls, Spot wants you to think about whether you believe that twenty percent of Northfield High School students are heroin addicts, out committing street crimes to pay for their habits. If we assume that the freshmen and sophomores aren't pulling their weight—sigh, underclassmen rarely do—the addiction rate has to be even higher among the upperclassmen, including, apparently, our straight "A" graduate. How probable do you think that is?
The AP's stenographer apparently couldn't be roused to ask a single skeptical question. Nor, apparently, could WCCO. Jeebus Christmas, people, where did you all go to journalism school?
Spot, how much horse has been seized in this city-wide dragnet?
Four ounces, according to the 'CCO piece.
Back to Katie. This latest "Sky is Falling" tale is perfect for Katie to infer the imminent demise of Western Civilization. After lamenting the sad state of moral rectitude in Northfield, Katie recounted a personal experience. You'll remember, boys and girls, that recently Katie and her brood went to the Robo-Date wedding of the Sister of Katie in California. This apparently happened on the plane ride:
I remembered a recent plane trip, where I was seated next to my daughters and several families with small children. During the flight, TV monitors suspended in front of us began to play what appeared to be music videos. I didn't have a headset, so I just watched.
One video could have been set in a brothel. It featured a scantily clad, tattooed woman and two men. The three slapped each other, and the woman and one man confronted each other in erotically charged bathtub and bedroom scenes.
The video had a dark, tantalizing element, a hint of violence just below the surface. Behavior like this is scary but cool and carries an illicit thrill, it suggested. The thrill of danger.
The video's edgy message didn't surprise me. Today, we encounter it in many places, from "thug" rap lyrics to the occasional graphic ad coupling sex and violence in the New York Times Sunday magazine. What did surprise me was that a staid airline company had shoved this video in our faces, and that not one person -- so far as I could tell -- had objected. [including, apparently, Katie]
Katie's weary un-surprise turned to joy when she got home and read about Northfield! She could tie the two together! Somehow.
Update: Ask Charlie sometime why Katie has it in for Northfield.
[furtherupdate] The Wege did a great post on Katie's column here, complete with Katie doing her best Harold Hill impersonation. [/furtherupdate]