Vice Squad
Thursday, February 19, 2004
LSD Responsible for Tragic Homicide

At least that's what the folks at the Chicago Tribune would like you to believe. A Chicago-area teen shot and killed his mother, father, and uncle last weekend at their vacation home in rural Wisconsin. The kid was a high school drop out, and had a lot of resentment towards his mother, according to friends. He had recently been arrested for urinating on some ladies' underwear at a local department store and then stealing them. Clearly, he had some problems.

In today's Tribune though, the sub-headline on the murder story is "Triple-murder suspect admits recent LSD use." Buried in the story are the facts that the murders took place on Saturday, but the teen could not remember if he took LSD on Saturday or Sunday. At this point, there's no evidence that the kid was under the influence of the drug, yet the article tries to titillate and scare us with a tale of a drug-crazed teen killing his parents.

Even if the suspect had taken LSD before the murders, I'm not sure why that part of the story is compelling, other than the fact that it further inflames the drug policy debate in this country, and lends credence to the drug warriors' claims that illegal drugs always cause people to do crazy things.

According to the Shaffer Library of Drug Policy, the Department of Justice published a research brief in 1994 which found that alcohol is the only substance that has been shown to commonly increase aggression. The report continues, "after large doses of amphetamines, cocaine, LSD, and PCP, certain individuals may experience violent outbursts, probably because of a pre-existing psychosis. I don't think people with severe mental problems should be using any mind-altering substances, other than those prescribed for their condition by a physician. However, that doesn't mean that everyone who uses LSD is a homocidal maniac. In fact, the vast majority of illegal drug users do not commit any crimes whatsoever, let alone violent ones.

The evidence in the current case so far seems to suggest that this teenager had plenty of problems other than LSD use. I would like to see the Tribune and other mainstream newspapers focus on the entire picture in cases like this, instead of giving us their usual alarmist and baseless conclusions that the use of illegal substances causes people to go off the deep end.

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