Today’s Bollocks was culled from an older post on the Vh1 Celebrity Rehab 2 message board (where I’m spending a little too much time). The post is about a month old, and is in response to a discussion about a member who has been clean for 11 years. He is, however, on a Dr. prescribed pain medication for some debilitating back pain. Another member there snarkily challenges his claim to being “clean” and ends the discussion with this observation:

“If a technician examined [his] blood he’d say “this person is not clean, he has opiates in his system.”

The reason I want to address this is that there are a lot of assumption packed into this one little sentence, and they’re the kind of assumptions that can really fuck with a person’s head.

The first, most obvious one (obvious to anyone whose brain is not a stew of dogma and slogans) is that no technician would ever make a judgment about whether or not someone is “clean.” “Clean” is not a technical or scientific term; it’s only a value judgment, based on someone’s interpretation of the results – and utterly irrelevant in a lab.

The second is that since “clean” – as nothing more than a value judgment – is based in the religious dogma of AA, it has absolutely no meaning outside of this context. Apart from this very narrow scope, “clean” and “unclean” have no more relevance than does “sin,” outside of a particular fundamentalist religion. For instance, unless your belief system condemns homosexuality, the threat of hellfire and damnation is irrelevant to you. All the proof a fundie needs that a homosexual will burn for eternity is the very fact of his homosexuality. And all the proof this poster needs that someone is unclean is the fact that there are opiates in his blood.

For these dogmatists, the fact of one’s opiate use (or one’s homosexuality, say) is inextricably fused to their beliefs about uncleanliness (or sin). Therefore their value judgments about the facts (opiates in the blood or homosexuality) seem like straightforward obviousnesses (“not truly sober” or hell) to them, instead of what they are: interpretations of the facts that are not objective truths by any means.

The fact that this poster cannot untangle this in his own mind, and presents his interpretation as if it were a plain truth – even to the point of assuming that a lab tech would say “this person is not clean,” and, in other instances on the board, insisting that those who are not “clean” admit it – is a great case in point for those wondering whether AA is a mindfuck.