My mild mannered friend Brian McGovern got many readers a little heated yesterday, Save Jerseyans, when he advised you to “get over” the Christie/Houston flag lowering controversy.
In his defense, Brian didn’t really take the Governor’s side per se; he simply sees it as a non-issue at a time when there’s plenty else to worry about. And I totally get that. But I also understand some of the objections. At a time when our culture seems to be getting sicker and more dysfunctional by the day, should we really elevate someone who came to embody the deline? That’s all. No one is saying she should be burned, disgarded and denied Christian burial for God’s sake!
The Governor, for his part, isn’t treating this like a non-issue. He responded to the controversy directly by arguing that Whitney Houston, a Newark native, had achieved a high cultural status during her life that transcends her equally poor decisionmaking:
I know what you’re going to say: “Frank Sinatra and Count Basie didn’t die in a bathtub, Matt!” Granted, although I’m sure plenty of people almost did during the Rat Pack’s infamous binges.
To me, so much of this flap boils down to an as-of-yet unspoken issue, Save Jerseyans: whether you consider alcoholism/drug abuse to be a “disease” or strictly a “choice.”
Let’s get some outside perspective from a non-New Jerseyan? Someone who is unambiguously conservative, pro-military and, like Ms. Houston, someone who has publicly struggled with substance abuse…
He kinda/sorta defended the Governor’s decision on yesterday’s show:
I have a question. If she did not have in her life a problem with drug abuse and alcohol — take a little out of it — and she died prematurely…? We don’t yet know what the cause of death was, but let’s assume that alcohol and drugs had nothing to do with it. Take that out of it. How many of you would be upset that the flag was lowered to half staff? How many of you are upset about it simply because, in your mind, “She was just an entertainer. Come on! We lower the flag for statesmen, for heroes. What is this entertainer business?”
Food for thought.