Pubdate: Sat, 17 Apr 1999
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 1999 Mercury Center
Author: Rene Aguirre


COLUMNIST Lee Quarnstrom wrote about the death of 20-year-old Kelly Gibbons
and the problem of illegal drugs in downtown Santa Cruz (Page 1B, April 5,
Santa Cruz/Monterey edition).

I agree that there is a problem with illegal drugs in the downtown area; the
police do need to do more about it. This should happen not because it is
aesthetically unpleasing to the eye, but rather because there are people out
there (mostly young people) who need help. Kelly was one of those people.

I personally did not know Kelly Gibbons, but I do know people who did. In
turn, they know people who knew him. In other words, Kelly was not an
anonymous person wandering the streets of Santa Cruz.  He had a family and
friends. These people knew this man, and they loved him, despite the fact
that the years leading up to his death were marked by negativity. They did
not love his lifestyle, they did not encourage a way of life that inevitably
contributed to his premature death. My point here is that although the
circumstances surrounding his death may or may not point to a lifestyle of
drug abuse, Kelly was a person.  He is not just another dead junkie as
Quarnstrom branded him. He was a son, a brother, a friend, and a father. It
seems pointless that his life is over, but it does not erase the fact that
Kelly will be missed.

Quarnstrom's take on "heroin chic" is appreciated. There are too many people
out there who think drug abuse is glamorous.  But do you think that it is
fair to imply that Kelly was a member of this faction? If he was an addict
as you label him, do you think that the addiction he faced was something
that he relished?

Quarnstrom's comments suggest that addiction is a choice; if it were so, it
would not be an addiction. Some people lose their ability to choose after
their first experience with a drug; ask any heroin addict about this.

Quarnstrom's attempt to uncover the drug problem in Santa Cruz is admirable,
but it failed.  The result is a slanderous piece of journalism that did
nothing more than to show disdain for people who are addicted to drugs.  I
suggest in the future that when writing about the passing of another human
being, consider the people who are deeply saddened and in the process of
trying to live life without their loved one. Even if you disagree with a
person's lifestyle, that does not mean that you have to forget your

Rene Aguirre Santa Cruz

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