ways, where does the state’s interestnstop? With a poster in a New York barnwarning pregnant women of the dangersnof drinking? With a “warning”nprosecution — for the South Carolinanattorney general maintains that “we’rennot really interested in convictingnwomen and sending them to jail.nWe’re just interested in getting them tonstop using drugs before they do somethingnhorrible to their babies”? Or withncloser regulation for all women — finesnfor taking a glass of wine at dinner, ornfor missing a now-mandatory doctornvisit, or for foolishly slipping on ice nonpregnant woman should have any businessnwalking on?nA judge in Wyoming dismissedncharges against a woman for beingnintoxicated while pregnant because nondamage to the baby could be shown.nBut it seems likely that in the futurensuch a case will go the way of othernchild abuse cases. Given a condition ofnintoxication, harm will be presumed,nand mothers will have to prove themselvesninnocent before their childrennare returned to them. No one is arguingnthat a crack user will be much of anmother. But Uncle Sam has not provednhimself to be much of an uncle. Isnthere really no possibility of some nonfederalnintermediating group —nextended family, church, neighbors,nlocal crisis center — that can step innand take care of children and parents?nAll the national government hasnproved is that it can warehouse them.nAssuming that there are no suchnintermediaries (and we have notnreached such a degraded state of societynyet), still, it would be preferable tonsacrifice some children to their mothers’naddictions than to force help onnsuch people, in a misguided act ofnmandatory charity that will endangernthe parental rights of all the rest of us.nIn general our problem as a society —narising from the extremism of ournPuritan legacy and our childishness —nis that we never know when to stop.nThe ACLU claims that the samenSouth Carolina attorney general whonwants to use the force of law only tonencourage these women to seek treatment,narrested some of them the daynthey gave birth, or the day after. If so,nthen he has not shown much moderation.nIt is the nature of our governors tonnever be content with going after justn8/CHRONICLESnthe worst cases — they will go after thengray ones, too, in an effort to increasentheir own power. As has been shown innchild abuse cases, they will use thenwedge of this new law to split opennfamilies whose problems are not sonmonumental, families for whom thenstate’s cure is worse than the initialndisease. Perhaps the law is going afternthat woman on the wrong side of townntoday, but tomorrow it will be comingnafter us.n—Katherine DaltonnMARION BARRY’S arrest in Januarynfor cocaine possession set the stagenfor what has become a familiar Americannscene. At a press conference heldnafter his release from jail, it didn’t takenBarry long to perform the public ritualnof secular penitence: he announcednthat he would be entering a drug-andalcoholnrehabilitation center because ofna “problem.” Barry didn’t elaborate onnthis “problem,” but one of his supportersndid. The mayor’s behavior could beneasily explained, she said. Barry has ann”addiction.” Barry has a “disease.”nAs the Marion Barry saga makesnclear, American society has rejected anrhetoric of responsibility for one ofnabsolution. Comedian Flip Wilsonnmade himself famous in the earlyn1970’s with the saying, “The Devilnmade me do it.” Marion Barry’s pressnconference was merely a variation onnFlip Wilson’s schtick. When pressednby reporters who questioned him aboutnhis use of illegal drugs, Barry at onenpoint replied, “we have a problem,”nand “we will conquer it.” Impersonalnsyntax and plural pronouns are familiarntactics of public men who wish tontransfer moral responsibility to thenDevil or “society,” which is the modernnequivalent.nBarry’s “we have a problem” line ofndefense reflects one of the most commonnand disturbing trends in Americannculture. The turn-of-the-centuryntheologian and Social Gospeller, WalternRauschenbusch, had a name for it:nhe called it the socialization of sin.nSocial science has aided this processnwith a helpful, two-syllable word,nwhich has done more to underminenpersonal morality and individual responsibilitynin this country than anythingnelse in the 20th century: it’sncalled “disease.”nnnAmericans no longer suffer personalnfailings, they only suffer “diseases.”nEating, gambling, shopping, adultery,nchild abuse, premenstrual tension, andnany form of self-destructive activity —nall have been classified as diseases.nIndeed, the disease model of humannbehavior has been so profitable andnpolitically successful that it has given’nbirth to one of the biggest growthnindustries in the post-World War IInera — treatment centers. Alcoholism isna prime case in point. There has nevernbeen a scientific justification for thendisease concept of alcoholism. Yetnthere exists a labyrinth of lobbies, bothnnational and local, professional andnvolunteer, from the most prestigiousnmedical associations to the most vulgarnof commercial treatment centers, thatnhave their entire existence riding onnthe bet that they can hoodwink thenpublic into viewing alcoholism as andisease. And their bet appears wellgrounded.nThis disease concept of human behaviornhas stained every aspect ofnAmerican society — from our courts tonour courtships. Contrary to what millionsnof us saw on television, JohnnHinckley didn’t shoot Ronald Reagan,nhis “disease” did. Wade Boggs — thenstar third baseman for the Boston RednSox who tearfully admitted to BarbaranWalters, Geraldo Rivera, and to virtuallynevery other talkshow host that henwas “addicted to sex” — didn’t cheatnon his wife, neglect his children, andnplay ball only halfheartedly when hisnwife and not his mistress was watchingnfrom the stands, his “disease” did. PetenRose’s problem wasn’t moral; he wasnonly addicted to gambling. And poornMarion Barry. He didn’t let down hisnconstituency, shirk his responsibilities,nmake a mockery of political office,nbreak laws — to say nothing of trivializingnthe real problems of blacks. No,nBarry was a man with a problem, andnas he explained to his church congregation,npart of his problem was his “selflessndevotion to other people.”nOne can be sure that, after a therapeuticncourse on “looking out fornnumber one,” the mayor will be readynfor a triumphant return to public life.n— Theodore Pappasn