|Houston (L) and Bennett (R) (AP photos; via salon.com)|
Bennett said that while on stage at Clive Davis' pre-Grammy gala on Saturday, February 11.
He took the opportunity to politicize Houston's death. "Let's legalize drugs like they did in Amsterdam," he told the audience, "No one's hiding or sneaking around corners to get it. They go to a doctor to get it."
There is so much that's wrong with that statement, and with the rest of what he said, that it has gotten a lot of criticism, even from those likely to be supportive of the octogenarian crooner. The Hollywood Reporter noted the weirdness:
Bennett's statements come months after Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for his involvement in prescribing and administering a fatal dose of the drug propofol. Winehouse, who had battled addiction for many years, died in July of alcohol poisoning. While the cause of Houston's death is not yet known, the singer was said to have fought addiction in recent years.From Salon.com, Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote this example of Bennett's dimness:
Just hours after the news of the singer’s death, Bennett was at a Grammys event in the Beverly Hills Hilton – where Houston died just a few floors above – and said, “First it was Michael Jackson, then there was Amy Winehouse, and now the magnificent Whitney Houston. I’d like to have every gentleman and lady in this room commit themselves to get on government to legalize drugs … Let’s legalize drugs like they did in Amsterdam. No one’s hiding or sneaking around corners to get it. They go to a doctor to get it.”Let's try to understand Bennett's muddled thinking: People should "go to a doctor" to get their drugs, he said, in the same breath in which he cites drug overdose victim Michael Jackson. Uhm, didn't Michael Jackson get his drugs from his doctor? Why yes! He did! Somebody tell Tony Bennett about that, okay?
Let's assume that the poison that Whitney Houston was using had been legal, as Tony Bennett says it should have been. Would that have prevented her from overdosing and/or using it so excessively that it contributed to her death? Did the War on Alcohol contribute to any booze related deaths last year? What? There is no War on Alcohol? Well, see? That's my point. Legalization does not prevent abuse. Ask any alcoholic.
Indeed, Salon.com kinda sorta thinks along these lines as well. Williams wrote:
Yet what really muddles the waters is the examples Bennett used, of Michael Jackson and his friend Amy Winehouse. The claim that “Once it’s legal and everybody can do it” problems go away is sadly untrue. Michael Jackson didn’t meet his maker shooting heroin into his veins; he died of “Acute Propofol Intoxication” — and his doctor, Conrad Murray, was subsequently convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Other drugs found in Jackson’s system at the time of his death were the FDA-approved Lorazepam, Lidocaine, Diazepam and Midazolam. Winehouse, meanwhile, died of alcohol poisoning.See? That's my point. For Tony Bennett to say that the absence of a War on Drugs would have saved Whitney Houston is so profoundly naive that it makes him sound like a serious Libertarian. Bennett should, as they say, just shut up and sing. The sooner he shuts up the better, too...
In September, 2011 Bennett caused a firestorm of resentment when he told Howard Stern that America was to blame for the 9/11 terror attacks. “They flew the plane in, but we caused it,” he said on Stern's live broadcast. Bennett soon issued an apology, but the damage was already done to his credibility with a lot of people. The more recent statement about Whitney Houston being a victim of the War on Drugs does not exactly help his public relations efforts.