A day or two after Whitney Houston’s death I asked a friend if he felt there was any rational basis for not concluding that she died from drugs. His response was basically “I don’t know, possibly but who knows? I think we all need to hold off until the facts are in.” Today I sent him the news about the L.A. coroner’s report saying that white powder was found everywhere, etc.

Me: “Is it safe to say now that Whitney died from drugs, or should we continue to reserve judgment?”

Friend: “Not just drugs alone. She drowned — drug-related, no doubt.”

Me: “‘Drug-related’? You don’t want to go out on a limb.”

Friend: “It’s kinda like dying of pneumonia when you’re riddled with cancer. Her cancer was a drift back into drug addiction but to say she died of drugs alone, I don’t know. Do they say it was the amount of coke she was doing that actually killed her — or was it the drowning itself? In other words if she wasn’t in the bathtub, would she still be alive?”

Me: “You may be on to something. It was the water that killed her.”

Friend: “Take it up with the coroner.”

Me: “By the same token, a woman jumps from a ten-story building and people ask if the fall killed her. No, you would say — the pavement did. Or in Collateral when Jamie Foxx looks at the dead drug dealer who’d fallen out of the window and onto the trunk of his cab, and then asks Tom Cruise, ‘You killed him?’ And Cruise says, ‘No, I shot him. The bullets and the fall killed him.'”