OK Mr Smart-Arse Pale Green Vortex Man. You've really done it now. Overstepped the limit. I mean, ridiculing those decent, well-intentioned people with their Psychoactives Bill. I ask, how heartless can you be? Isn't it about the children? Don't we need to protect the children?
Well, it's true that our young people do sometimes need to be protected. Under normal circumstances, we have things called laws specifically designed for purpose. You know, age-related. They exist for a range of topics where it's best that young people are specially considered. Alcohol, sex, tobacco, driving cars, for example. 'Drugs', though, that awful word in our weird society, are to be treated differently. We shall prevent young people making mistakes with psychoactives by criminalising psychoactives. It's the same logic as banning motor vehicles because a small number of under-age people drive around and come to no good. Or criminalising sex as a result of some under-agers getting it on.
There is a very sneaky, disingenuous aspect to the publicity driving the Psychoactive Substances Bill. A deliberate misleading of the public - at least that section of the public that doesn't check up on things for themselves. 'Legal highs' are demonised through the use of statistics purportedly showing many folk - especially young folk - dropping dead as a result of taking them. The figure of 97 for 2012 has been frequently bandied around. The thing is this, though - it does not actually refer to 'legal highs' at all. It refers to NPS, New/Novel Psychoactive Substances. NPS is a far wider designation, including many substances that are pretty new kids on the block, but that have nevertheless already been banned. The deliberate conflation of the two terms is intended to mislead, and is shameful but true. Thus, of those 97 fatalities in 2012, 23 were the result of PMA/PMMA, a 'false ecstasy' illegal since the 1970s. Another 37 concerned mephedrone and similar (discussed in the early days of PGV in 'Plant food, anyone?'), which was banned in 2012. Though NPS, these were all already 'illegal highs' so not at all relevant in consideration of the new Bill. How many people actually died as a result of properly legal highs? According to Professor David Nutt, probably somewhere between ten and zero.
It should be borne constantly in mind that the main effrontery of the Psychoactive Substances Bill is that it is an attack on consciousness; as Casey Hardison reminded us years ago, the 'War on Drugs' is not a war on drugs, but a war on consciousness. This Bill is the logical conclusion of that way of thinking. 'We have decided, and decided precisely, what states of mind you are permitted, and which ones you are not.' It is Orwellian in a way that none of the dark characters inhabiting the pages of 1984 could have dreamt up. In the same way that you don't need to be homosexual to support gay rights, or don't have to be a female to understand equal pay for women, you do not need to be a consumer of any psychoactive substances, legal or illegal, to realise the totalitarian nature of this piece of (hopefully unworkeable) legislation, and to object to it as a full-frontal attack on the most basic of human freedoms.
In truth, this Bill has been promoted largely by a group of hardcore ideologues, who have the nerve to think they can decide what other adult people do with their private lives. I do not like this 'left-wing, right-wing' designation of people; having said that, our psychoactive totalitarians are often embodiments of all that is despicable about 'right-wing' mentality. They have their own very precise view of how people should live, behave, think, feel, 'mentalise'. At weekends, they would have all the young people doing embroidery (the girls) or practicing reef knots (the boys). The older people will bake cakes (the women) or build garden sheds (the men). In the evening, they will all sit down together in front of the television for Jonathan Ross and Masterchef. If you want to do this with your life, go ahead. But let others get on with their lives as well.
As for they children, well they do sometimes need a helping hand. 'Education' is a word bandied about by the anti-psychoactives people; and education does indeed sometimes come in useful. Not, however, the 'education' proposed by these people, which is really propaganda in disguise. Going around schools preaching about the evils of drugs will indeed cause panic in the A and E departments across the country, as millions of young people need urgent treatment for a surfeit of laughter. Drug education needs to come from people who have 'been there' and can distinguish between more positive and more destructive ways to go. But hey, they can't easily do that, because the legal regime makes that problematic. Back to square one......
Plenty of decent stuff has appeared in recent days on this topic. Here's one.....
And don't forget the two cardinal principles of drug prohibition:
1. The more draconian the measures, the more control is passed to the truly criminal underworld, to the people who are properly unscrupulous.
2. The more draconian the measures, the more unpredictable, the more varied in purity, the substances being offered to and purchased by people young and old. And, as a result, the greater the risk and number of casualties. As mentioned before on this blog, there is blood on the hands of the Home Office, the Home Secretary, and everybody else behind this ridiculous and dangerous drug regime.
Image: law-abiding citizens. From the Guardian.