A starting gun has gone off in the political world of Massachusetts with the new report recommending the establishment of safe injection sites for narcotic use.

I remember the political battle in the city of New Bedford to establish a needle exchange program. The idea was to hand out needles to drug addicts to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS and other deadly diseases.

The activists driving this radical change were organized, well funded, and experienced at pushing their political agenda. Some of the leaders used to parade in the streets supporting the communist forces in Vietnam, that was how far back their resumé for political work went.

But the 1990s wasn't the 1970s and the silent majority had its confidence back.

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson was then a member of the New Bedford City Council and he led the charge in that body to reject the distribution of needles to drug users in his city. To demonstrate the enormity of the number of needles involved, he held up a bag with hundreds of needles on the council floor. That giant bag of needles represented just one addict's yearly need of the then-controlled items.

City Councilor Hodgson and others who opposed the idea for their community were called horrible names. They were going to let people die and they had blood on their hands for opposing the needle exchange program. It was a lot of the same rhetoric spewed at the soldiers returning home from serving in Vietnam.

Finally, there was a ballot question put in front of the voters in the city of New Bedford. The people of the city overwhelmingly rejected the idea of hosting a needle exchange program. The actual voice of the people was heard at the ballot box, and the idea of a needle exchange program in the Whaling City died that day.

The people of New Bedford have been pushed by the radicals in the past, and I have no doubt we are going to see this battle again.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at chris.mccarthy@townsquaremedia.com and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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