By Christopher M. Finan: Addiction killed a young friend of mine last fall. Americans are alarmed by the surging number of fatal drug overdoses, mostly caused by prescription painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl. There were 52,000 in 2015, and it is estimated that 59,000 people died in 2016. What are we doing about it? Not enough.
A Q&A with Christopher M. Finan. For centuries, alcoholics were blamed for their inability to control their drinking, and it was widely assumed that alcoholism was incurable. This began to change after the founding of the Washington Temperance Society in 1840. The Washingtonians were the first national group to help alcoholics get sober, and they inspired the creation of the first institutions to provide treatment for addiction.
Some people will yawn at hearing that Saturday was the beginning of the 27th Annual Banned Books Week. The story is the same every year, isn't it? Hundreds of titles are challenged in schools and libraries around the country. In 2007, the number was 420. This is fewer than the year before, but the number has fluctuated widely since the launch of Banned Books Week in 1982. The average is around 500.
Censorship is very American.
After all, the First Amendment was something of an afterthought. The Founding Fathers did not plan to protect freedom of speech and freedom of the press in the Constitution. The Bill of Rights was a concession to critics who argued that the Constitution did not provide adequate protection from government tyranny.
How right they were! Only a few years later, one group of the Founding Fathers passed the Alien and Sedition Acts in an effort to silence another group of Founding Fathers.