ANOTHER SIDE OF WHITNEY HOUSTON

     Pardon my insensitivity.

     Whitney Houston was a great singing talent, indeed. That was a gift of nature.

     She was also a criminal. There are over a million people in our jail and prisons today, and another two million on probation for doing exactly what she did for the better part of fifteen years; buying, possessing and using illegal drugs. But she got away with it and continued reap admiration long the way.

     The sports and entertainment world, and the media in general, should stop lionizing dead idols who spent a good part of their lives using recreational (and illegal) drugs. The subliminal messages they send to impressionable young people by the millions is not only powerful, it is  infinitely damaging, and with long term consequences.

     While we know that hundreds of idols are unapologetic users of illegal marijuana, thousands more have made no secret of using heroin, cocaine and meth for recreation, which is not only illegal, they are highly addictive and destructive. When they die, mass funerals are held, long-winded eulogies of praise are heard and not a word is spoken about the horrid addiction they suffered by making stupid choices, choices that no child should ever make. Neither do they mention the lifelong pain and misery suffered by family and friends in their wake.

     Meanwhile, we have American heroes laying down their lives day after day for our country, or coming home without arms and legs, never to receive the flood of adoration that pours over for a drug addict with a good voice, all because she’s a famous name and magnet for the camera.

     The list of celebrity users, dead and alive, is horrific: John Belushi, Robert Downey Jr., Tim Allen, David Bowie, Billie Holiday, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Charlie Sheen, and on and on. That doesn’t even address idols whose addictions were confined to prescription drugs like Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley.

     What is missing from Whitney Houston’s life, and from most celebrity drug addicts, is owning up, admitting openly that they have been caught up in the yoke of addiction and to use their fame and influence to steer young people away from the nightmare they will face if they get started on the drug path. Sadly, few do that.

     Whitney Houston was talented, but selfish. She wallowed in admiration for her musical skills while everyone turned a blind eye to the monkey on her back and her criminal behavior. Her sickness was of choice, not nature. While the world knew about her drug habits, she stood as a disgraceful role model for millions of young boys and girls, a shining example portraying the drug scene as not so bad. “Look, Whitney Houston does it, it’s cool.” I dare to wonder how many kids vicariously entered the world of addiction, thanks to stars like her.

     I might be inclined to feel more sympathetic if Whitney Houston had publicly used her iconic status in a crusade against drugs. Where are her video messages? Where are her billboards?  Where are her ubiquitous anti-drug admonitions?

     “Hi kids, I’m that Grammy winner, Whitney Houston. You think I’m cool, but I’m not. I’m a hooked drug user and believe me, I curse the first day I ever tried cocaine and other hard drugs. You have no idea the sickness and pain I have suffered every day, at my own hand. I wish, so hard, I could wipe the slate clean and start over. But it’s too late, I’m an addict. My life is busted. I’m forever craving that hit one more time, a slave to drugs for life. Being rich means nothing.

“No matter how much money I have, it makes my life miserable. I beg every last one of you, don’t ever do drugs, not even the first time. Don’t get sucked into the “wanna be liked” syndrome. Don’t be fooled by people like me. Drugs will eventually kill you. If not literally, they will kill your spirit and ruin your life. Never, never do what I’ve done. You’ll be sorry. That’s a promise”

     So, let’s hear it from the Hollywood stars, the rockers and rappers, musicians, singers and sports stars. Where are your voices, Robert, Charlie, Lindsey and Snoop Dog? Why aren’t you using your idol status to help save the lives of impressionable kids from the misery you have suffered? Why don’t you care?

     Most celebrity druggies haven’t the courage to do that. And neither did Whitney.

     I’m sorry she’s dead.  But I’m just as sorry for the other 5,000 dead drug addicts who die in Americae very year from overdoses who go unnamed and unknown because they didn’t have a good voice and a hundred million dollars to make them famous.