January 12, 2002, - 3:13 pm

Terrorism and Zit Medicine


A 15-year-old deliberately crashes a plane into a Tampa building, with a note supporting Osama bin Laden.

And the politically correct media blame it on pimple medicine.

Rather than examining Charles Bishop’s Middle Eastern background and informing us that Bishop is half Arabic, the media relies on the old “Twinkie Defense.” With a new twist: The acne medication made him do it.

Sticking to the absurd blame-it-on-Accutane story, very few media outlets reported other more relevant information, like Bishop’s real surname: Bishara, an Arabic name which was legally changed to Bishop, according to the Australian Herald Sun. He thanked his teacher for calming anti-Muslim feelings in the school-building among her students, hinting that for all he knew, he could be part-Arab, the paper reported.

Why did it take Australia’s Herald Sun, in a land far away, to investigate legal records regarding Bishara-Bishop and his father’s foreign-status–believed to be Syrian? The New York Post later reported it, but few others did. FOX News Channel even featured Arab Muslim civil-rights advocates pointing to Bishara-Bishop as an example of non-Arab terrorism.

Strangely, while Court TV, C-SPAN and a gaggle of other broadcast news sources are fighting to televise terrorist Zaccarias Moussaoui’s trial–and turn it into another O.J. spectacle–few media outlets are fighting for the release of the full text of Bishara-Bishop’s suicide note.

Maybe because the conventional media wants you to believe that this was just another all-American suicidal teen-age loner, a patriotic kid with absolutely no ties to terrorists in the Arab world. But do we really know that?

According to Tampa Police Chief Bennie Holder, Bishara-Bishop’s two-page-long suicide note “had some other things in there that we prefer not to talk about [since] the investigation is still ongoing, but everything in the note mentioned things that occurred on Sept. 11 and his support of bin Laden and al-Qaida.” Were this simply a copycat suicide, the mysterious contents of the note would be released, not kept confidential while “under investigation.”

As for Bishara-Bishop’s heritage, we don’t know the extent of his contact with his father, whether the father has connections to terrorism, or even where the father is. For all we know, he might be an al-Qaida terrorist, safely in the Middle East or somewhere in the U.S., planning an attack. Maybe the unreleased portions of the suicide note refer to this, but because of a lax media, we don’t know. Where is the network news on this? It’s like playing “Where’s Waldo.”

Instead, we’re being told Bishara-Bishop was a “superpatriot,” in the words of his flight school’s president, Bob Cooper. Many flight school instructors described Sept. 11 terrorists as nice guys, too. The lesson here is that lip-service can be deceiving. While many Muslims are hard-working, loyal Americans, some of the most vocally patriotic may not be.
Cavalierly dismissing a terrorism connection, the media–from the Washington Post to ABCNews.com to the Associated Press–began running stories blaming Bishop’s suicide mission on Accutane, the powerful acne pills produced by Hoffman-La Roche. Accutane has been unjustly vilified over the last year due to the suicide of Congressman Bart Stupak’s, D-Mich., son, who was taking Accutane at the time.

While Stupak’s loss is regrettable, his son would not be the first teenage child of a politician, who felt neglected because daddy was too busy politicking in Washington and the district. Rather than address that possibility, Stupak began an interminable crusade of congressional hearings against Accutane, claiming the acne medicine causes suicide and depression. No doctor he, Stupak’s kangaroo court will only serve to drive up the cost of Accutane to those who need it.

Stupak has a special tax-funded website and e-mail address soliciting venom with which to attack Accutane maker Hoffman-La Roche. The media’s haste to blame Bishop’s suicide flight on Accutane adds more fuel to Stupak’s witch-hunt.

While it’s true that, according to the FDA, 147 people on Accutane from 1982-2000 either committed suicide or attempted it, that’s actually much lower than the overall suicide rate for youth aged 15 to 24–the age range of most Accutane users. Since over 20,000,000 people took Accutane over the last 19 years, that’s a paltry combined suicide/attempted suicide rate of .735 per 100,000 on the drug. Yet, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Centers for Disease Control, the 1998 (the latest year for which data is available) suicide rate for those aged 15 to 24 was around 11.3 per 100,000.

Accutane–which virtually erases acne and is the only treatment for severe or nodular, scarring acne–probably prevents a lot of pimply, less attractive teens (like Bishop), from committing suicide. The statistics bear that out. There is absolutely no conclusive evidence that the drug causes depression or suicide. But in their zeal to attack the big, bad pharmaceutical industry and remain politically correct, the media never reports this.

Enough about acne medicine.

It’s time the press started covering the real story about this “sweet boy” who nearly strafed MacDill Air Force Base, where Central Command for foreign wars, including this one, is based.

It’s time for them to look into the whereabouts and activities of his father and the contents of the suicide note. We all deserve to know.

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