9: Drugs

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This episode contains references to graphic racism

When a security camera caught footage of a 31-year-old Florida resident eating the face of a homeless man, the news and social media dubbed him the Miami Zombie, and it was widely speculated that he was under the influence of a new synthetic drug called Bath Salts, a claim that was later found to be false. Hysterical drug rhetoric has long talked of zombies and monsters and aggressors with superhuman strength and an imperviousness to police bullets, and panic around drug use has long been manufactured by politicians with specific groups in mind, to dehumanize those who appear to cause a threat to the established social order, marking them inhuman groups in need of social control and even long-term imprisonment. Many of us were drafted into the War on Drugs as kids and teens through faulty programs implemented by D.A.R.E. police officers, and taught to mimic this unreasonable rhetoric that has caused irreparable harm to many American communities and continues to do so to this day.

This episode is sponsored by HelloFresh, head over to hellofresh.com/AH80 and use the code AH80 for $80 off your first month.

American Hysteria is written and produced by Chelsey Weber-Smith
Assistant produced by Derrick Smith
Produced and edited by Clear Commo Studios
Show art by Roache
Thank you to research assistant Riley Smith
and to Sarah Deutsch for advising

For further reading, check out Synthetic Panics by Phillip Jenkins

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59 episodes