By R. D. Flavin


     There is personal restraint and then there's restraint imposed upon you. And, of course, many, many versions and variations thereof in between. This is going to be a 'personal' column, though I'll do my best to provide proper notes when necessary and a bibliography. Recently, a neighbor in my new apartment building in Chelsea, MA has been combining 'bath-salts' with alcohol, pushing me and others around, and threatening to kill just about everyone in the apartment building. I had him arrested for Assault and Battery, and he was back the next day. After more incidents, I went to a local court and a Harassment Prevention Order was issued. Twice, he was arrested for violating the order and returned the next morning. Last week, he went full-tilt bonkers, was arrested for the fourth (?) time, and returned the next morning. The fellow is showing no restraint in his behavior (or respect for the 'law'), and while I'm a fairly well-built and good-sized fellow (6' 1” and 210 lbs.), there's always the possibility of a knife in the back when one is not looking. So, let's discuss 'restraint' in general and, perhaps, delve into this new fad of designer 'bath-salts'.

     Three or four years back, I watched a short television interview with a couple of chemists who specialized in the manufacture of illegal drugs and bragged if US law changed and made one of their products against the law, they'd simply add or subtract a molecule or two, effectively creating a 'new' and therefor 'legal' substance and product. I believe the chemists were British and the television program could have been part of CBS's 60 Minutes or some local show. Their arrogance and braggadocio were ...impressive. The first few minutes of the interview concerned variations of MMDA or Ecstasy, while the remainder concentrated on the new success of 'bath-salts' which were NOT being used in a bathtub.

Various 'legal' bath-salts... and the Catha edulis plant from which dangerous chemicals are derived.

     The so-called 'bath-salts' are products made from various chemicals derived from the Catha edulis (aka khat) plant known since ancient times, but in the hands of renegade illegal chemists, the extraction of mephedrone, methylone, MDPV – (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone) are used in the 'bath-salts' with a dopaminergic effect. All are illegal, but the young chemists easily make new versions...

     With so many legitimate “illegal” drugs available on the streets, it's hard to imagine a kid buying synthetic cannabis instead of a small bag of real pot. It's likely a generational thing, with 'meth' and crack cocaine replacing snorting coke, and 'X' replacing mescaline and mushrooms. However, whatever the intoxicant (legal or not), showing restraint with proper conduct would seem a paramount priority. We don't publicly burn flags and bras NOT because some of us don't want to, but it's against the law to burn 'anything' in public without a permit. It's about restraint.

     I've been advised by several folks not to refer to the police as incompetent... Trust me, I would NEVER address a gun and a badge with such language. Now, the courts are a different manner and prosecutorial discretion is sometimes found lacking (Vorenberg 1981). Yet, this about an individual's lack of restraint. There's getting wasted and then there's getting REALLY high and poking folks with threats of death. Again, a wicked lack of self-restraint.

     I tried on Tuesday to inform my building management through telephone calls and e-mails my focus has suddenly shifted to health concerns. I was able to get the senior building management on the telephone for a few seconds, before she mumbled something about being “busy” and promising to call me right back. Hours went by and there was no return telephone call... On Wednesday morning I awoke with a voice-mail from her attempting to chide me for posting a picture on Facebook a couple of months ago about how our building property is overgrown with three foot tall weeds and a general lack of landscaping. I'd left another voice-mail about my sudden health problem, but there was no mention of that. Oh, there was a quick reference to the neighbor with a lack of restraint, couldn't really understand her because of a lack of proper enunciation on her part. Sure, I'm disappointed, but I'LL BE DAMNED IF SOMEONE WILL TRY AND TELL ME WHAT I CAN AND CANNOT POST ON FACEBOOK (other than Facebook or a representative of the law, of course). My immediate interests exceed pettiness.

     Okay, here's a story of an extreme example of a lack of 'restraint'. Still, it's a jem... So, a decade ago a gruesome murder occurred here in Massachusetts when a fellow got angry after his wife yelled at him for “Burning the ziti...” Burning? I thought you boiled pasta? Anywho, so this fellow tosses restraint out of the window and strangles his wife. Murder, homicide - everyone is familiar with the act and/or concept. However, this fellow dragged his wife's dead body into their backyard, ripped out her lungs and heart and impaled them on a stake. He then took his (unharmed) 4 year old daughter for a ride in his car and stopped at a stranger's house where he entered and began babbling about how he'd killed his wife because she was an alien. They (correctly) immediately called the police. At trial, his attorney tried the insanity defense, but once the jury was shown pictures taken over the years with the wife with black eyes, a pattern of spousal abuse emerged and he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Definitely a lack of 'restraint'...

     Now, as far as my 'personal' problem with my neighbor who has a deep-seated trouble maintaining 'restraint', I'll handle it... Somehow, someway, the problem will be resolved WITHOUT violence. Yes, I do feel a certain betrayal by both the Chelsea Police Department and the Chelsea District Court (as well as my building management for letting matters get THIS FAR), but time will out and I do believe the good guys will win in the end. Oh, there are bumps, but we must be thankful as others have it much worse than we do. I'd describe this as just another ...adventure. Difficult, for sure, but in no way as bad as the phone call I just received from my surgeon informing me there are several new lesions on my liver and my cancer has returned... Well, I guess I'll have to take care of this one too...

For an informative PDF on 'bath-salts', see:


Vorenberg, James. 1981. “Decent Restraint of Prosecutorial Power.” Harvard Law Review. 94, 7: 1521-1573.

looking over my shoulder,

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