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A Top Trump Health Care Appointee Thinks Tattoos Are Linked To Drug Abuse

The man in charge of medical technology in the Trump administration also has views on goths.

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WASHINGTON — If you've got questions about penis phobias, the link from goth culture to drug abuse, and how opioids are evidence of the existence of God, a top Trump appointee has answers.

Those and other subjects were touched on in a 2006 book by John Fleming, the former congressman who was just appointed by President Trump as assistant secretary for health technology at the Department of Health and Human Services.

A tea party–backed politician from Louisiana, Fleming served four terms in the House of Representatives before making an unsuccessful bid for the Senate last year. He'll be a key person in the administration in charge of improving how physicians use technology to practice medicine.

Fleming is also a longtime doctor and in 2006 authored Preventing Addiction: What Parents Must Know To Immunize Their Kids Against Drug and Alcohol Addiction. In it he encouraged parents to closely supervise and even breathalyzer-test their children. He also pushed some contested theories such as that tobacco can be a gateway drug for larger drug abuse.

"Not all Goths are drug addicts, but a high percentage experiment with all types of drugs, including hallucinogens," he wrote in one representative sample. Fleming did not respond to a request for comment.

Here are some excerpts.

On what makes for a real party:

Kids experiment with substances almost exclusively in groups, which is why it’s vital that they communicate with each other and make their plans to “party.” By party, I am not talking about balloons and birthday cakes. (p.219)

On not smoking marijuana even once:

When kids cross the line into pot use, they are crossing the line, figuratively and literally, toward a life of illegal drug use and probable addiction. (p. 216)

On how looking at porn at a young age can give you a long-lasting penis phobia.

Another recent example I can cite is that of an adult woman who was allowed to see a pornographic movie as a child. As an adult, she has suffered from a phobia to male genitalia. (p. 80)

On the perils of getting a tattoo:

Body art comes into play in drug addiction as well, although obviously, not all who have a tattoo are addicts. A sailer who gets a single tattoo on his arm or an adult woman who has a small butterfly tattooed on her lower abdomen are not necessarily drug addicts or even rebellious — just dumb, at least temporarily! (p. 187)

On seriously, kids, do not get a tattoo and do not get involved in the goth scene:

On the other hand, kids who seek a more substantial expression through body art do tend to get involved in drugs. The most likely connection between body art and drug use involves rebellion, or the subculture within what we can generalize and call the counterculture. The "Goth" or "punk" movements are specific counterculture groups. In both groups,
the kids often dress in black, wear heavy white makeup, paint their hair bright colors and use fairly intense body art and piercings. Goths usually smoke cigarettes and many practice an odd sort of devil worship, although kids in the "punk" culture may not have any interest in these non-mainstream beliefs. Not all Goths are drug addicts, but a high percentage experiment with all types of drugs, including hallucinogens. (p188)

On opioids as evidence of the existence of God:

Were it not for these drugs, many common and miraculous surgeries would be impossible to either undergo or perform. In my opinion this is no coincidence at all. Only a higher power and intellect could have created a world in which substances like opiates grow naturally. (p. 67)

On goths again:

When you see that your child has become interested in body art or has a fascination with the Goth or other subculture, then be on alert, because your child is likely headed into rebellion and possible drug experimentation. (p. 188)

Fleming is also an advocate of parents using breathalyzers to test their children for alcohol consumption. In his book and this interview he talks about how he caught his own son drinking at the age of 16. His son was forced to take a breathalyzer test every day when he came home for two years until he went off to college.

"Believe it or not, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association have come out against the use of home breathalyzer and drug testing," said Fleming.

"Through my personal experience as a physician and a father, I can say without hesitation that these sorts of techniques were not only important and helpful; I think they're necessary in today's environment."

Paul McLeod is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Paul McLeod at paul.mcleod@buzzfeed.com.

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