Came across this on, of all places, Gawker yesterday.
Here’s what happened: Jose Paul Velasquez Jr. was alleged to have been injecting his son with heroin through, one presumes, the little boy’s jugular vein. The Gawker story said the 9-year-old boy’s mom noticed “unusual track marks” (as opposed to the “usual” ones? hm) on her son’s neck and took him to hospital. The little boy tested positive for weed and opiates.
The cops arrested Velasquez and charged him with child abuse. And here’s what I found interesting about this story: the dad was also charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
The dad is pretty obviously an addict, right? And it’s correct to arrest him for abusing his kid, because if he did this, it qualifies as abuse: he will have harmed his son’s body (and psyche). But the charge of “contributing to delinquency” puts addiction back into the sphere of moral degeneracy.
If the guy injected his son with drugs, how is that turning the kid into a degenerate? In my mind, it’s exposing him to sick behavior. Here is how my logic runs: If the kid grows up to do what Daddy did, he’ll grow up to be an addict first—somebody who is sick and needs help—and then, possibly, because of his addiction, a criminal, a “degenerate.”
Most of all, he’ll grow up first to hate himself. He’ll carry on abusing himself the way Daddy abused him.
So let’s hope Velasquez goes to jail. Lots of people have kicked in jail; Steve Earle has a great passage about it in Chris Lawford’s book, Moments of Clarity. And Earle and others have STAYED clean not through the actions of law-enforcement but through programs of recovery, usually involving a component of spiritual development.
Saying the guy’s sick doesn’t absolve him of having to pay for what he did. Part of the payment is accepting help from society—which ought to provide opportunities for people to heal, instead of just punishing them.
Sick is an ancient word with roots all over the North Sea and Teutonic lands. It comes from Old English, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch, Old High German, Old Norse, Icelandic, and Gothic words, and their origins can’t be traced—the condition of sickness in humanity is so old and pervasive. But their meanings are all the same: suffering from illness. People who are suffering need compassion. (See Maté’s video again.)