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K-hole Kapers

July 30, 2009

I was watching an American crime show* a few days ago which briefly featured two characters discussing a woman who had been drugged with ketamine. Sure enough, as soon as ketamine was mentioned, one of the characters added “Ketamine is normally used as a horse tranquilizer.”

It’s the inevitable default way to refer to the drug. You always hear the phrase “horse tranquilizer” follow from any mention of ketamine on TV or in newspapers. In fact, ketamine is pretty much a general anesthetic used in both human and veterinary medicine (albeit more widely used in the latter). During my brief, part-time hospital job (as a cleaner), I recall the nurses telling me about a young boy being treated with ketamine and tripping his balls off, much to their amusement. A cursory bit of research will throw up a lot of pharmacological jargon indicating that “Special K” will indeed get you off your tits, hence why it is being used as a recreational drug. I can only guess that the repeated use of the term “horse tranquilizer” is some kind of media meme to try to explain and simultaneously over-sensationalize the substance. It is perhaps analogous to the way in which swans are forever associated with breaking human arms with their powerful wings. “Careful now, they can break your arm!” Ever met anyone who has had their arm broken by a swan? Why only the arm? Do they home in on the arms and neglect to attack your ribs, neck, collar bones?

Sufficient data may be lacking, but ketamine could now be more widely used by club scene fucktards than administered to anxious horses. It is time for a media-wide moratorium on the use of the term “horse tranquilizer” whenever ketamine is mentioned. By my count, it has been nearly 15 years in which we’ve heard this silly description repeatedly regurgitated. An update is long overdue. The only thing I’ve managed to come up with so far is – “Ketamine. It’s a drug popular with queers.” However, it is far from certain that this suggestion will find its way on to primetime TV in the states anytime soon.

(*Oh, all right, it was Criminal Minds. )

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