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Do safe injection sites reflect the moral code of Philadelphians? | Dom Giordano

Needle-exchange plans have normalized the idea of giving needles to addicts, and it's not a stretch to think the same thing will happen with safe-injection sites.

A bucket of used heroin needles that were collected over two months around McPherson Square library in 2017.i
A bucket of used heroin needles that were collected over two months around McPherson Square library in 2017.iRead moreDAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

I have a modest proposal for Philadelphia City Council in its dispute with Asian merchants who run delis that mainly sell beer. Don't see the protective glass as bulletproof or prison-like.  See it as "harm-reduction" glass. I say this because I've just seen an interview with Philadelphia's new harm-reduction czar.

Allison Herens is the first person to hold this title in Philadelphia, and one of very few such people in the United States. To me, it signals another radical move by Philadelphia and a very clear preliminary step toward city government setting up so called safe-injection sites for heroin addicts.

At, she said: "I think it signifies as a city we are finally starting to, at least, address the fact that you can't force people into treatment. We can have this moral code, but people still have their own choices in life, and part of helping people is really respecting and acknowledging those choices." Her diminishing of our collective moral code jumps out at me. Do the majority of Philadelphians really think we should be setting up sites where addicts can inject themselves and if they overdose, a doctor or other medical personnel will use Naloxone to save them?

This proposal is an extension of the free-needle programs operating in Philadelphia in which addicts, at designated times and places each week, are given clean needles to curtail the sharing of needles and the spread of various diseases through the reuse. I have been to these sites and it is a painful thing to witness. Of course, when the debate raged against these places, the proponents told us any ethical or morality debate had to give way to saving lives.

Needle-exchange proponents have won the debate, and they have normalized the idea of giving needles to addicts. They didn't have the advantage of a harm-reduction czar or the network of harm-reduction gurus who have spent a good deal of time and money weaponizing the philosophy to tear down the moral components that drive our laws.

A key player in all of this is incoming District Attorney Larry Krasner. During the recent election campaign, he said that we have a moral obligation to establish a safe-injection site. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, another key player, told Fox 29 that it would be problematic for police officers to be present where illegal narcotics are being used. The police and federal authorities could raid the site and arrest doctors and nurses.

I find Krasner's "moral obligation" comments to be most interesting. He mustn't have gotten the memo from the harm-reduction czar. She says that a moral code must give way to allow drug users to minimize damage from their choices. So, despite these inconsistencies, does an injection site reflect the moral code of Philadelphia? That is an open question.

However, it's clear that there are not progressive pressure groups and activists that are in love with the idea of making Philadelphia the center of every progressive initiative. The city has all the liberal touchstones such as the obsession over bike lanes, potty parity, restrictions on the rights of business to hire people, and the lessening of laws involving marijuana. In addition to this, Philadelphia is the home of the sugary-drink tax and the attack on inanimate such objects as bulletproof glass that protects merchants in many high-crime neighborhoods.

The big benefit of all this is that even when these utopian ideas fail, the proponents have the benefit of virtue on their side. They care about the lives of addicts, poor people, and those being served in Asian delis. They reek of virtue signaling.

I predict that by late spring, Philadelphia will approve safe-injection sites. Why not do what Montreal is doing and make the site mobile? Pull into places such as Rittenhouse Square and other chic neighborhoods and let people feel good about the new "morality." It should be easy to move on to safe prostitution sites next.

This is very difficult stuff. How about if we put it on hold and focus on something completely lacking in controversy. The Mummers Parade is just days away, and sensitivity training has been a great harm-reduction answer.