Op-ed column: Drugs, death show new policies are needed at Camp Bisco
A young concession worker found dead while setting up a stand at Camp Bisco in Duanesburg. Drug overdose. Two serious traffic accidents, one resulting in the death of a 26-year-old woman from Maine who was returning home from a weekend at the festival. A passenger with her was seriously injured and state police are awaiting toxicology results to “determine if drugs or alcohol may have attributed to the accident.”
The other incident involving two Bisco fans resulted in no injuries but police found ketamine in the car and the driver was determined to be “impaired by drugs.” A 24-year-old woman admitted to the hospital on Thursday [July 12] and still in a coma as of Monday [July 16].
Two fatalities, kids in ICU and a stated record of 35 cases treated at Ellis Hospital through the three-day music festival. Many drug-related along with broken bones and other injuries. Causing the medical staff to question the festival’s drug culture and “harm to attendees.”
‘Steeped in safety?’
Yet festival organizers continue to claim the event is “steeped in safety . . . and the primary concern of the event is the well-being of everyone at the campground.”
I beg to differ.
With ticket prices listed at $20-$190, I would assume the primary concern and purpose of the event is to make a good profit. Since reportedly tens of thousands were in attendance, I’m sure that was accomplished. Yet at what cost?
As a small community, have we become so desensitized to human life? I’m reminded of an ancient biblical quote: “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” Not money in itself. But the love of it. The greed. The avarice.
We read these reports of death and injuries, shake our heads and move on to the next article. God help us. Perhaps if there were some type of animal abuse there, it would garner attention or concern. But a dead man found in his tent? No, campers flippantly address the issue with “some people don’t know when to stop or what their capacity is for the drugging.” Have we raised such an uncaring and insensitive generation?
Imagine standing at the casket of this young man or this young woman. This is not a TV drama or the latest movie sensation. It is the stark reality of watching the grieving parents clinging to the cold hand of their lifeless child. How would you feel if this was your son or daughter? Life cut off, too young to die. Plans unfulfilled. Promises broken. Dreams shattered. If you have ever lost a loved one, especially at a young age, you can relate to this scene.
And the girl still in a coma, maybe with relatives sitting by her bedside, willing her to awaken. People filled with regrets — could I have stopped them from going? Why didn’t someone tell me what this place was really like? What could I have done differently?
It is ironic that if there were a drug bust of 12 or 14 suspects in our city, it would be lauded and celebrated. Yes, the drug dealers were caught and taken off the streets for a time, hopefully reducing crime and the downward spiral of this lifestyle.
Normal rules abandoned
Yet we barely blink an eye at the fact that a music festival takes place in our area and these types of casualties are the end result. Because once on this campground, normal rules cease to exist.
The event is well-known for its illicit drug use. It is also well-ignored. Any event of this size, with no police patrol, very few rules and thousands of overheated, drug- and alcohol-stimulated fans, is bound to cause harm. Not “well being and safety.” Especially to the younger crowd (kids as young as 16, barely old enough to drive, are in attendance).
These kids are more easily influenced by peer pressure and the adrenaline rush of breaking all the rules. I would suggest that if those in charge truly want the “well-being” of the campers, it may be time to make some serious adjustments.
If it isn’t about money but a desire to showcase a popular concert of entertainment, maybe the sacrifice of losing some attendees because of stricter standards — and gaining back some common decency — would be worth the effort. Many popular venues hold successful concerts with thousands in attendance, with no drugs or alcohol allowed on the premises. A novel idea.
Time to reconsider
After this year’s tragedies, I implore the community and the organizers to reconsider this event. It’s all about the music? Then police patrols would not be a hindrance but a safeguard. We have drug-free zones in school neighborhoods yet we send kids off to “Bisco Bedlam” without a thought.
If the attendees can’t enjoy the music without being in a drug-induced haze, it doesn’t say much for the talent of the musicians.
As a community, we should offer our condolences to the families of the fatalities, for providing and allowing such an atmosphere for disaster. Calling on every sense of human worth, concern for our next generation and value of life, we should bind together to keep this from happening again.
Cynthia A. Lovely lives in Pattersonville.The Gazette encourages readers to submit material on local issues for the Sunday Opinion section.