Sends the wrong message
February 10, 2009
The British “government” has a colourful record of commissioning independent scientific advice and then blithely trashing it when it does not conform to ministers’ prejudices, particularly on the subject of the WAD (War Against Drugs).1 Over the weekend, news emerged that Professor David Nutt, chair of the Home Office’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, had written in a journal that, on a strict comparison of immediate deaths and injuries that result, taking Ecstasy is no more dangerous than horse-riding.2 On the statistics he cites of annual death and disability, this is simply a fact. It is not an opinion, dangerous or otherwise: Nutt has simply counted some things up and told us the answer.
Happily, facts are rarely allowed to get in the way of the cretinous moralizing of pro-WADdists. And so came a more-than-usually moronic session in Parliament yesterday, wherein home secretary “Jacqui” Smith screeched:
I spoke to Professor Nutt about his comments this morning. I told him that I was surprised and profoundly disappointed by the article. I am sure that most people would simply not accept the link that he makes up in his article between horse riding and illegal drug-taking.
The “link that he makes up”? IANAL, but I think this manages to be both a falsehood about what Nutt says, and a slander of him for fabricating evidence (or at least it would be a slander if it weren’t for Parliamentary privilege). As far as I can tell from press coverage,3 Nutt did not assert — still less invent — any “link” between the two activities. He did not propose that horse-riding was a gateway pastime to Ecstasy use. He merely compared them in their harms. Is to compare two things now inevitably to “make up” a “link” between them? Of course it isn’t, and of course “Jacqui” Smith is either a numbskull or a liar.
That makes light of a serious problem, trivialises the dangers of drugs, shows insensitivity to the families of victims of ecstasy, and sends the wrong message to young people about the dangers of drugs.
I see. So noting some facts about harms attributable to a particular drug “sends the wrong message” about the dangers of drugs. We are obliged to conclude, I think, that the right message would be a lie. This goes one thrilling step further than when last year’s plan to “upgrade” cannabis (which didn’t mean distributing better-quality shit) was said to “send a message” that drugs were eevull. The policy now is that facts about drug use are the wrong message to be sending about drug use. You can’t handle the truth!
Not to be outdone in the competition to see who could honk more crassly, Conservative MP Laurence Robertson took the chortlesome opportunity to make fun of Professor Nutt’s surname:
Will she go a little further than she did in her statement just now and perhaps suggest to Professor Nutt that although he might be appropriately named, he is in the wrong job?
“Jacqui” Smith responded:
I made completely clear my view that there is absolutely no equivalence between the legal activity of horse riding and the illegal activity of drug taking, and that will always be the basis on which I make decisions about drugs policy.
That is rather a specific basis on which to base one’s entire drugs policy, isn’t it? Still, we look forward to all future statements on the WAD by “Jacqui” Smith containing a disclaimer that taking drugs is not the same thing as riding horses, despite what some insane so-called “scientists” might babble.
What “message” does this farce send to you, readers?
- Or, more properly, the WADETLOFWTGRIANP — the War Against Drugs, Except The Legal Ones From Which The Government Rakes In A Nice Profit. ↩
- Cutely, he even offered a new term for the proposed “addiction” to riding horses, viz. Equasy. ↩
- I don’t have access to the journal article: if anyone does, feel free to cite interesting bits in comments. ↩