Skip

Are our library books safe?
November 12, 2006 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Grandma, we only need you to fill it up to this line.
Levy County, Florida, in the Good Old US of A is requiring drug tests of its library volunteers, most of whom are between 60 and 85 years of age. “It’s not like we are a high-risk group for coming in drunk or high or stoned or whatever.” This has, of course, put a dent in their volunteer pool (scroll down to "Municipalities"). Moody said that when the county signed the contract with First Lab to provide drug-testing a year ago, urine samples were the only means considered. "We didn't know that there were other options," Moody said.
posted by iurodivii (57 comments total)

 
This is just a common-sense issue - why are we spending tax money to test 75-year-old grandmothers for marijuana? We should be using that money to buy more books and computers."

There's your reefer madness for you.

*exhales, smiles*
posted by three blind mice at 2:03 PM on November 12, 2006


I dunno, I'm not feeling very outraged about this.
posted by thirteenkiller at 2:04 PM on November 12, 2006


Keep those drug addled senior citizen library wankers away from our kids! Porn and drugs in our libraries, how sick. (I really need to go there more often now that I know where all the fun is happening)
posted by IronLizard at 2:05 PM on November 12, 2006


If the first link is slow to load, also here, here, and here
posted by iurodivii at 2:07 PM on November 12, 2006


It's bullshit to test volunteers, but it's really bullshit that people are implicitly making the argument that it's wrong to test people because they are old and unlikely to use.
posted by Kwantsar at 2:08 PM on November 12, 2006


Yes, its the volunteer aspect that got me. I can understand testing a group like substitute teachers, but, c'mon. Its a library!
posted by iurodivii at 2:13 PM on November 12, 2006


It's bullshit to test anyone. For anything. Ever.

The Drug War is a large part of what's completely screwed up in the United States today, and for the last say 30 or 40 years or so. This is just yet another inane example of the madness inherent in the system.
posted by geekhorde at 2:14 PM on November 12, 2006


This is sheer fucking idiocy.
posted by cows of industry at 2:16 PM on November 12, 2006


but it's really bullshit that people are implicitly making the argument that it's wrong to test people because they are old and unlikely to use.

Well, what's the point of testing them in the first place?

Secondly, why is it a "bullshit" argument? Theoretically there is some cost associated with letting a stoner volenteer at the library. Call this cost X. There is definitely a cost associated with testing. Call this cost N. The net cost of testing a volunteer is N - P*X, where P is the probability of their being a stoner.

The lower the probability of their being a stoner, the higher the net cost of testing. In fact, as P approaches zero, the net cost of testing approaches the absolute testing cost, which we know is positive.

Of course, my guess is that X < N, making the entire process pointless
posted by Paris Hilton at 2:18 PM on November 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Most seniors that I know of are on drugs of some kind. My grandma takes a crapload of morphine daily due to a misdiagnosed cancer twenty-five years ago. She doesn't volunteer, but I am sure that there are many senior volunteers who are on drugs of one kind or another pretty constantly.
posted by arcticwoman at 2:19 PM on November 12, 2006


It's true seniors really are drug addled.
posted by stbalbach at 2:26 PM on November 12, 2006


Are you sure you didn't you mean "Is our library books safe?"

Call me old-fashioned, but I think your performance on the job is what should matter, not what you do in your off-hours. I don't do drugs or drug tests. My privacy is too important to me to start handing over my bodily fluids to everyone who asks, and I can't understand why anyone else who claims to live in a free country would either.
posted by blenderfish at 2:30 PM on November 12, 2006


I mean, would you agree to wear a tracking bracelet to make sure you didn't go into any Casinos, because some study showed that employees who gamble are 5% more likely to embezzle from the company?

Same deal.
posted by blenderfish at 2:33 PM on November 12, 2006


Theoretically there is some cost associated with letting a stoner volenteer at the library.

Theoretically is the key word here. The only costs involved with 'stoners' working anywhere might be related to jobs involving operating heavy machinery, or performing abdominal surgery or something. The fact that a culture exists in the US that is tending towards "You want to take part in society? Better not be doing any DRUGS!" is what causes messes like this to come up in the first place, especially since the other side of the propaganda decrees that people doing drugs are anti-social. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. I've heard reports of some Australian companies beginning to scale back their drug testing (a mining company was one of them, if I recall) simply because they couldn't find enough workers when they rejected everyone who came back positive.

Also, seniors do have some of the best drugs.
posted by Jimbob at 2:36 PM on November 12, 2006


Does stoner outrage make you press the enter key after each bong hit while composing an FPP?
posted by lalochezia at 2:37 PM on November 12, 2006


Kwantsar writes "It's bullshit to test volunteers"

Drug testing on the job is bullshit anyway. I can think of only a very few professions where it should be allowed at all, and those are only from a public safety point of view. No corporation should be able to invade private lives that way.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:42 PM on November 12, 2006


They've been looking for new volunteers at the library since that cold snap killed off all the hobos.
posted by hoborg at 2:43 PM on November 12, 2006


Won't you please think of Norchem's profits?
posted by notreally at 2:46 PM on November 12, 2006


Ms. Hilton-- it's a bullshit argument because you could substitute "white people" or "Asian-Americans" for "seniors," and you'd have something pretty abhorrent.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:00 PM on November 12, 2006


Are you sure you didn't you mean "Is our library books safe?"

I don't know what you mean.
posted by iurodivii at 3:02 PM on November 12, 2006


Yah, put me squarely in the drug testing is stupid camp. I'm opposed to random drug testing in general, especially in schools and workplaces. It's just one more way that "the powers that be" are criminalizing everyone, and moreover, getting everyone used to the idea. Goddammit, why the hell should I continue to be a law-abiding citizen if I'm still gonna be stripped of basic privileges and treated like scum. What difference does it make if Walmart (for example) wage slaves use some recreational substances? It's not like they're involved in high-level national security matters. Elderly library volunteers? Come on. Speaking as someone who got to "make a donation" just a week or so ago, in one of few jobs where you could make even a tenuous argument to require this sort of thing, I think there's plenty to be outraged about.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 3:03 PM on November 12, 2006


"It's bullshit to test anyone. For anything. Ever.

The Drug War is a large part of what's completely screwed up in the United States today, and for the last say 30 or 40 years or so. This is just yet another inane example of the madness inherent in the system."


Although I'd have to agree when it comes to little old librarians, I can think of quite a few sailors on the USS Nimitz in back in 1981 that would disagree with you...

Over the years several spectacular accidents have been associated with
drugs. Proof of drug use was noted, for example, after the 1981 crash of an EA-6B Prowler on the
USS Nimitz, the 1987 wreck of a Conrail/Amtrak train in Maryland, and the 1989 environmental
disaster resulting from the Exxon Valdez incident.

posted by matty at 3:13 PM on November 12, 2006


"We have a number of volunteers who are older, and I think about how my mother - who is 83 - would react to a test like this," Tollefson said. "She would find it degrading, be totally offended and find it an affront to her dignity."

It is degrading, offensive, and an affront to the dignity of anyone. That is the problem. We are allowing ourselves to be degraded in the name of... what? Safety? From potheads?

also c.f. the discussion in the panopticon fpp 3 below this
posted by Hal Mumkin at 3:14 PM on November 12, 2006


lalochezia, those were libertarian html tags.
posted by iurodivii at 3:14 PM on November 12, 2006


"A large part of the problem is how the test is administered - it is an affront to some people's dignity, especially people who grew up in another generation," said the county's library director, Bonnie Tollefson...

County officials said they realize that some people may find the test intrusive...

Moody said the drug-testing as well as background checks required for library volunteers are identical to what is required of all county employees and volunteers, including dozens of unpaid firefighters and hundreds of Community Emergency Response Team members from among the 36,000 county residents...


~~~

It's bullshit to test anyone. For anything. Ever.

The Drug War is a large part of what's completely screwed up in the United States today, and for the last say 30 or 40 years or so. This is just yet another inane example of the madness inherent in the system.
posted by geekhorde


I really have to agree with geekhorde. Essentially, the story seems to be about retired homemakers revolting when faced with the sort of violation of privacy that has become common in the workplace. Good on Granny.













*Exhales*
posted by taosbat at 3:16 PM on November 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


well that link didn't work!

http://www.aiha.org/aihce04/handouts/rt227rountree1.pdf
posted by matty at 3:19 PM on November 12, 2006


Here's another example of why you should never, ever, test people for drug use - for any reason.
posted by matty at 3:24 PM on November 12, 2006


Nobody reads in Florida, anyway. When I moved back to Texas from a small town near Orlando, we liberated about 5 books from the local library, because no one EVER checked the poor things out. War & Peace had been checked out a total of 7 times in 15 years, and had languished on the shelf for at least 5 when I gave it freedom.

So, let the old ladies get stoned -- it's gonna be about all thy have to get them through the slow times.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:27 PM on November 12, 2006


The Exxon Valdez substance use was alcohol, so that just doesn't count. We're only talking about drug testing, not drug testing.
posted by Rumple at 3:33 PM on November 12, 2006


Why does it smell like someone lit a skunk on fire in here?

Grandma, are you bogarting!?
posted by loquacious at 3:38 PM on November 12, 2006


Remember how you felt when some mid-East country whipped hell out of a woman as punishment for being raped? That initial shock of "What the hell is wrong with you people"?

It's amazing how often one ends up feeling that way about news coming out of the USA.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:19 PM on November 12, 2006


matty writes "Here's another example of why you should never, ever, test people for drug use - for any reason."

Most of us aren't syaing it's never appropriate.

Nice strawman, though! Not quite up to the quality of a dios or a ParisParamus, but a good effort all around.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:28 PM on November 12, 2006


Upon sober reflection, I really have to change my mind and agree that there may be some occasions when the public safety may require drug testing, not drug testing. If I hadn't been holding my breathing while typing my last comment, I might not have rushed it as I did.

But, the extent to which drug testing is carried out in the workplace is really an affront to everyone's privacy.
posted by taosbat at 4:45 PM on November 12, 2006


Over the years several spectacular accidents have been associated with drugs. Proof of drug use was noted, for example, after the 1981 crash of an EA-6B Prowler on the USS Nimitz, the 1987 wreck of a Conrail/Amtrak train in Maryland, and the 1989 environmental disaster resulting from the Exxon Valdez incident.

Your link doesn't go anywhere. As Rumple pointed out, though the Exxon Valdez incident was used by the powers that be to (successfully) push for drug testing for anyone on a ship's crew, the drug in question was alcohol, which isn't screened for.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 5:11 PM on November 12, 2006


Over the years several spectacular accidents have been associated with drugs.

BFD. What kind of spectacular accident can one possibly have in a library? Sure, you can mix the fiction with the non-fiction, but seriously--this isn't life and death, folks.
posted by leftcoastbob at 5:29 PM on November 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Sure, you can mix the fiction with the non-fiction, but seriously--this isn't life and death, folks.

Tell that to someone who goes into the library looking for a book about stomach pains and comes out with My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist.
posted by ryoshu at 5:45 PM on November 12, 2006


Devils Rancher, did you just admit to stealing books from libraries? Why not pilfer some home improvement supplies from Habitat for Humanity while you are at it?
posted by Dantien at 5:54 PM on November 12, 2006


For the record, unless you're an airline pilot, I'm against drug-testing, and even then, I think it can be handled a little bit better, if it needs to be handled at all.

However, let's roll back the clock. Drug-testing got rolling down the slippery slope in the late 1980's ("I Don't Wanna Pee Pee In No Cup" anyone?), so the library volunteers in question were twenty years younger, so let's tag them at 45-65 at the time.

These were probably the same just-before-boomer crowd that were all freaked out and were right behind Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No." As long as it didn't apply to them, because, damnit, dignity is for old people. It was pretty easy to get scared over the idea of coke-snorting bus drivers slamming fifty kids into a brick wall, so long as the humble voters didn't have to pee in a cup. Looks like that particular chicken has come home to roost.
posted by adipocere at 5:56 PM on November 12, 2006



Actually, if you are concerned about safety, what you want to do is *performance testing*, not drug testing. For example, if grandma has a high tolerance to opioids, she may be able to drive better than you on a dose that would kill you-- but if she's currently in withdrawal because her doc wouldn't renew her script and she's enraged as a result, she may be a menace. In that instance, she'd be a safer driver on drugs than off.

Similarly, a truck driver on methamphetamine who has been up 24 hours may be seriously safer than a truck driver without crank who has just stayed up for 24 hours. This is why the U.S. government gives our fighter pilots amphetamine when they fly billion dollar planes on critical missions.

Anger and sleep deprivation are often more dangerous than drugs-- and driving while on a cellphone is more dangerous than driving while impaired by alcohol (not intoxicated, but impaired).

One of the founders of modern medical education and surgery (some of whose techniques are still used today) was on morphine his entire career-- today he'd been kicked out of medicine as a menace and we wouldn't benefit from his brilliance.

What matters is whether you can do the job, not what chemicals are in your body-- whether you are a librarian or a neurosurgeon.

Of course, we'll never do performance testing because that would mean acknowledging that drug testing is not about whether someone can do the job or not, but about control and humiliation: which is perfectly evident in this case.
posted by Maias at 6:02 PM on November 12, 2006 [3 favorites]


I had to "donate urine" once. Since then I've taken the decision that I would never do it again, since I ended up getting backstabbed out of that job anyway. Apparently there's no urine test for megalomania or the tendency to blame subordinates for one's mistakes... go figure.
posted by clevershark at 6:36 PM on November 12, 2006


U.S. government gives our fighter pilots amphetamine when they fly billion dollar planes on critical missions.
and they bomb Canadians by mistake.
posted by hortense at 6:40 PM on November 12, 2006


Dantien
Devils Rancher, did you just admit to stealing books from libraries? Why not pilfer some home improvement supplies from Habitat for Humanity while you are at it?

Excellent idea. Why didn't I think of that before? Seriously, though -- it was almost 25 years ago, in another lifetime. And singular. Library. I'll admit to doing dumb things in my youth, sure. At the time I was plenty appalled by the fact that some of the greatest works in literature had sat there, unread whatsoever, for multiple years. We checked out some books a couple weeks before we moved, and never bothered taking them back. Florida had given me an amazingly bad attitude by that point, and it took me years to recover, but I'm a fine, upstanding citizen now that works ceaselessly for positive, progressive change. Maybe I'll just mosey down there one day & pay that library fine. Unless, of course, they plan on using the money to piss-test little old ladies.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:53 PM on November 12, 2006


lurodivli, "Is our library books safe?" is an allusion to Bush's "Is our children learning?" quote. It's just a joke, though, so don't take the Bush reference too seriously.
posted by blenderfish at 6:54 PM on November 12, 2006


I have two problems with this.

1) Volunteers shelving books and working circ? Around here, volunteers aren't permitted to do critical work like that. Do you want a volunteer being the face of your organization?

2) Drug testing for those that do not operate planes, busses or other heavy equipment is being used as a substitution for effective supervision. If someone can toke at home, and it doesn't affect their work life, who cares? If someone is having issues at work, a supervisor is supposed to help the employee deal with it, or fire them.

And volunteers are not employees.

I also have a really difficult time believing that the insurance company requires this. I work in a public library co-operative. My partner is a library volunteer. I've never heard of drug testing library volunteers. Hell, most of our libraries don't drug test any of their staff.
posted by QIbHom at 6:59 PM on November 12, 2006


This is why the U.S. government gives our fighter pilots amphetamine when they fly billion dollar planes on critical missions.

Actually, now they get modafinil (Provigil), and a beautiful thing it is, too.
posted by booksandlibretti at 7:01 PM on November 12, 2006


The degree of supervision, indeed, is often a more eloquent class indicator than mere income, which suggests that the whole class system is more a recognition of the value of freedom than a proclamation of the value of sheer cash. The degree to which your work is overseen by a superior suggests your real class more accurately than the amount you take home from it. Thus the reason why a high-school teacher is "lower" than a tenured uni versity professor. The teacher is obliged to file weekly "lesson plans" with a principal superintendent, or "curriculum coordi nator," thus acknowledging subservience. The professor, on the other hand, reports to no one, and his class is thus higher, even though the teacher may be smarter, better-mannered and richer. (It is in public schools, the postal service, and police departments that we meet terms like supervisor and inspector: the prole hunter will need to know no more.) One is a mid- or low prole if one's servitude is constantly emphasized. Occupational class depends very largely on doing work for which the consequences of error or failure are distant or remote, or better, invisible, rather than immediately apparent to a superior and thus instantly humiliating to the performer.
-- Paul Fussell; Class: A Guide Through the American Status System.

There's really nothing more to it than that. Fill out this timesheet. Pee in this cup. Submit this pointless report. Whatever bullshit reasons are thought up to justify it, the bottom line is that it's not about the work, it's about the servitude.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:45 PM on November 12, 2006 [11 favorites]



Nevertheless, the point is that stimulants *improve* performance in certain situations-- hence Ritalin, Provigil and yes, even methamphetamine (desoxyn) are given to schoolchildren for ADD and to adults in the military and people who do shiftwork for fatigue.

the distinctions between the legal uses of these drugs and the illegal ones are completely arbitrary.

and regarding the bombing of the canadians-- you can't prove that there's a problem with the policy based on one incident, you'd need to know if there are more mistakes with or without the drugs. given the controversy and how much the U.S. hates to accept any positive uses for any drugs, one would imagine that the military has pretty good data supporting use.

this is not to say that there aren't legitimate medical uses of stimulants (nor to say that their use is always nonproblematic)-- but simply to say that we're complete hypocrites about drugs in general.
posted by Maias at 7:50 PM on November 12, 2006


Maias writes "ou can't prove that there's a problem with the policy based on one incident"

Except that your entire 'war on drugs' (which you infected us with, TYVM) thrives on single examples. So... too bad? Hoist by your own petard?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:21 PM on November 12, 2006


Congratulations!
You worked for free to help the council. To show its gratitude, the council is using the money it saves to treat you like a common criminal.
posted by spazzm at 10:34 PM on November 12, 2006


Haven't you heard? Old ladies hopped up on goofballs are the source of 100% of library fatalities.
posted by tehloki at 2:23 AM on November 13, 2006


I'm in yr liberry smokin' yr books!
posted by Hildegarde at 5:04 AM on November 13, 2006


If you're going to do this to anyone, you have to do it to everyone. Otherwise the argument you're making is the same as "why search little old white women at the airport?" If you don't want that kind of 'profiling', you have to either stop these silly drug tests or make them universal.
posted by reklaw at 6:43 AM on November 13, 2006


QUICK! SOMEONE CALL CARL MONDAY!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:34 AM on November 13, 2006


(oh, and -- previously on MeFi...)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:36 AM on November 13, 2006


On reflection, maybe they are not looking to fire employees, er, volunteers, but looking to promote them. Maybe they are screening to find someone with a history of cocaine use to become the frontrunner for the republican party's '08 campaign? Unless Levy county is more blue, in which case they'd look for the pothead, no?
posted by iurodivii at 2:12 PM on November 13, 2006


aeschenkarnos Thanks for the quote. I'd never seen that line of reasoning before and it crystalizes a lot I've been thinking about. I'll have to see if I can find that book when I get back to the States.
posted by sotonohito at 12:33 AM on November 14, 2006


Well my friend, you liberated those classics, ensuring no one EVER will be able to check them out and read them. Bet that solved the problem!
posted by Dantien at 6:17 AM on November 14, 2006


« Older Neo-Maoism in China   |   Tasty, Tasty Arson Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post