Framing Samuel See: the discursive detritus of the moral panic over the "double epidemic" of methamphetamines and HIV among gay men.
- Author(s): Gideonse, Theodore K
- et al.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2015.10.010
After being arrested for violating a restraining order against his husband, on November 24, 2013, Yale professor Samuel See died while in lockup at the Union Avenue Detention Center in New Haven, Connecticut. The death received media attention around the world, with readers arguing online about whether See's death was caused by police misconduct, as his friends and colleagues charged in interviews and during a well-publicised march and protest. When an autopsy revealed that he had died from a methamphetamine-induced heart attack, online commentary changed dramatically, with See's many supporters rhetorically abandoning him and others describing him as a stereotype of the gay meth addict who deserved his fate. In this article, I argue that this shift in the interpretation and meaning of See's death can be traced to the discursive structures left by the moral panic about crystal meth in the United States (1996-2008), which comprised within it a secondary moral panic about crystal meth in the gay community and its connection to the spread of HIV and a possible super-strain (2005-2008).