A rehab for porn-addled adolescents might sound like a setup for a joke—and when numerous media outlets caught wind of Utah's Oxbow Academy recently, it was widely dubbed “Porn School,” a “boot camp” for young online porn-addicts. Boys aged 13-17 spend their days here in counseling, schoolwork and chores, as well as activities like horse-riding and music; the internet and cell phones are banned. A puritanical impression isn't easy to shake when every article quotes Oxbow Academy's director, Stephen Schultz, on society's problems: “Sex is everywhere. When I was growing up if someone said they were bisexual it was shocking,” he says. “Now threesomes and depraved sexual behavior is all over the internet and children see those images before they develop into adolescents.”
But despite such statements, Schultz tells The Fix he's not here to judge: “All media, the amount of sexual content is much different today than when I was a kid. I'm not making a statement that it's good or bad—there are just consequences,” he says. “As kids are sexualized at an earlier age, there shouldn't be surprise that there's experimentation or interest or that kind of thing.” And his facility's goals and motivations are subtler than the press portrayal: Oxbow seeks to resolve boys' behavioral issues—not just excessive porn use—which can manifest in self-harm, eating disorders, inappropriate touching of others, poor grades and depression. It's just that pornography is the one issue all the students share. “Every student who's come through Oxbow has had unhealthy porn use,” Schultz confirms. “I wouldn't go far as to say porn causes kids to act out in certain ways, but it's a common thread.” He says he doesn't know why the "Porn School" moniker was applied: in his original interview for the Mirror, he only spoke about the school's treatments, schedules and procedures. “Never once was 'porn school' or boot camp even uttered,” he complains.
One of his students had run up $100,000 on his dad's credit card buying escorts, tearing up the bills to cover his tracks. Schultz wants to help boys like this develop healthy sexuality. “Kids are going to see porn; they're teenagers. That really isn't the issue," he says. "It's helping these kids learn and develop resilience around pornography." Stigma is part of the problem: "General society tends to see kids with sexual issues like the people on Dateline's Catch a Predator thing. These kids are just teenagers that are caught up in behaviors they don't want to be in, with lots of guilt and shame.”
Once again, a pharmaceutical company's lies about the safety and effectiveness of its product are revealed to the public ten years too late. Documents reported on by the New York Times show that researchers conducting trials of the arthritis drug Celebrex for a subsidiary of Pfizer "cherry-picked" the data—as one researcher put it in the internal docs—to show that the drug upset the stomach less than the competing brands. As it turns out, the favorable results were selected from the first six months of a year-long study, rather than the whole thing. The disturbing facts were uncovered among a slew of executive emails—such as one in which an associate medical director at Pharmacia (which was later bought by Pfizer) minimized trial findings for "no other reason than it happens to look better." The documents were released as part of an ongoing securities-fraud case against the company, which has previously included a 2003 lawsuit—and heralded a major drop in Pharmacia's stock value. Although this obfuscation might have less dire consequences than Purdue Pharma's marketing of the painkiller OxyContin as "less addictive" than competing brands—helping to spark the worst prescription drug addiction epidemic in history—it's a timely reminder that companies like Pfizer and Purdue have dual allegiances: to their patients and to their bottom lines. Celebrex has made its manufacturer over $2.4 billion.
It's brutal even for a regime with Iran's reputation. The Khorasan "justice" department has sentenced two male citizens to death for being caught drinking alcohol for the third time. The previous two sentences for the unidentified individuals resulted in 80 lashings; Iranian law allows the death penalty for a third conviction for drinking alcohol. Despite this, the country hasn't sent down a death sentence for drinking since 2007—and in that case the man was pardoned for his fourth alcohol offense when he repented. "The execution sentence for the two people who had been caught using alcoholic beverages has been confirmed and is now in process,” says Hojjatoleslam Hassan Shariati, the head of the Khorasan justice department. “We will not show mercy in alcoholic beverage offenses and we will sentence the offenders to the harshest letter of the law.” There may be plenty more of these executions and public lashings to come, because alcohol consumption is very much on the rise in Iran; Shargh newspaper reports that 26% of drivers stopped by police currently test positive for drug or alcohol use.
Getting sober can feel like starting over; it is often heard in the recovery community that addicts are given the opportunity to live two lifetimes in one. Perhaps no one exemplifies this opportunity for transformation better than one-time boxing champ Oscar de la Hoya, who is clean and sober for over a year, repairing his marriage, and taking on a new sport: golf. De La Hoya, 39, earned his reputation as boxing's "Golden Boy" after scoring a gold medal at the Barcelona olympics, 20 years ago. But despite career success that included 17 world champions and 10 world titles, his addictions nearly beat him to a pulp—his dark past included cocaine addiction, alcohol abuse, and sex scandals that nearly destroyed his marriage, including rape allegations. “I almost lost everything,” says the ring legend, who had his first drink aged nine. But a little over a year after checking himself into rehab in Malibu, CA, De La Hoya has maintained his sobriety with the aid of 12-step meetings, recovered his wife's trust—and is now pursuing career aspirations as a pro golfer. He discovered golf in his 20s and pursued the sport as a hobby even as his boxing career took off. These days he plays weekly and plans to try out for the Champions Tour when he turns 50 in 2023. “Got the green light from the wife,” he says. “She understands that golf fulfills me.”
As The Fix reported last week, US-backed drug enforcement violence in Honduras looks set to continue. Early Saturday morning, a DEA agent killed a man in another drug-seizure operation. It's the first time the DEA has admitted to one of its own agents opening fire in Honduras, an action it says was justified because the target—who was being arrested—was reportedly reaching for his weapon. Meanwhile an investigation continues of the May 11 massacre in Ahuas, in which four seemingly-innocent bystanders were killed by gunfire from a US-owned helicopter.
The New York Times reports that it obtained (but didn't release) video of the incident, taken by an unmanned drone hovering overhead. But the video adds mystery to an event already clouded by conflicting reports. The people killed were in a dugout canoe that villagers say was ferrying lobster fishermen and families back to town. The canoe came on the scene of an in-progress drug sting, with DEA agents supporting Honduran and Guatemalan law enforcement in the seizure of a boat loaded with cocaine. According to the video—in a detail omitted from both official reports and the reports of eyewitnesses and victims to human rights observers—the canoe seemingly collided with the drug-smuggling boat as the former was docking, before the American helicopters opened fire on it. Although this doesn't clarify the conflicting stories—the identities of those killed in the boat have been verified separately as including a young boy and two pregnant women—the Times reports that the video “satisfied Congressional staff members that the American agents on the raid did not fire their weapons.” Which seems to mean that Americans are unlikely to accept any responsibility for the incident.
Josh Hamilton's story of overcoming his addictions to crack, cocaine and alcohol, and then returning to pro baseball better than ever, could have come straight out of a movie—and Hollywood producers seem to think so too. A feature film on the life of the Texas Rangers star is already in the works, with Casey Affleck taking on the role of writer-director and Thunder Road Pictures signing on for the flick. A statement from Hamilton and his wife Katie says that while they won't be involved in the Hollywood pitching process themselves, they will have "an integral part of the film's creative direction and accuracy as the project develops." As of now, the biggest issue in the film is finding an actor who physically matches Hamilton and can play the role. Will Ferrell's name was tossed around initially because he bears the closest resemblance in terms of facial structure—but unfortunately he doesn't have an athletic enough body. Other actors who may come out swinging include Channing Tatum, Jesse Eisenberg of The Social Network and Cole Hauser of Good Will Hunting.