Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Paul Sheehan loses the plot

Author Paul Sheehan covered himself in shame on Monday with a rant about the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, published in the SMH. The rant was lifted straight from the local far right Liberal line that all the problems of Kings Cross are down to the centre (even though a careful look will reveal that the decline of retail shopping strips is getting worse throughout the inner city, including Oxford Street, Glebe and Norton Street).

In ranting about the high costs of the MSIC and harm minimisation programs for junkies, he ignores the infinitely higher cost of jailing people for drug crimes, even as we continue building jails and filling them mostly with drug-related offenders. That’s a prohibition argument but Sheehan (and the SMH) refuse to argue within that frame.

I estimate 90% of drug-related damage is in fact down to prohibition -- the system that creates the space for the criminal black market that operates worldwide. Prohibition creates the ‘crimes’ it seeks to eliminate.

Sheehan also quotes an author who points out that all this money is spent on people who are ‘architects of their own downfall’. What rubbish -- Something like 85% of these people, before they created their drug problems, are illiterate or have severe learning difficulties, have mental problems, and/or have experienced major trauma in their lives (things like seeing your brother murdered by your father). They cannot function in this society and they cannot keep their drugs under control either. Sheehan fails to offer any better solution to the problem but his clear implication is that these people should be left in the gutter to die -- like they used to before the MSIC. Paul should look up the word ‘redemption’ in his dictionary and reflect on it.

Living in Kings Cross, I am acquainted with a lot of these people and one frequent factor I notice besides lack of teeth is a lack of intelligence in its classic sense.

When it comes to emotional intelligence though, a lot of them would leave Paul Sheehan gasping.

Sheehan shows his ignorance by mentioning ice and ecstasy in the same breath. Read what Dr Norman Swan wrote about ecstacy on the ABC’s quantum program by clicking the headline. Do your research, Paul!

Curiously, Sheehan does a U-turn at the end of his story and flirts with the opposite point of view. But he still babbles emotively about the government, because of the MSIC, being ‘involved in the heroin trade’ which in fact would go a long way to solving the problems and would virtually eliminate drug-related crime. In ignoring prohibition (which is listed as a classic example of fallacy in my Logic textbook) he ignores the prime factor in this whole saga.

2 comments:

Cass Cumerford said...

GREAT LIL' ARTICLE. IF INJECTING ROOM WERE CLOSED THOSE OWNERS OF STRIP JOINTS COULD RENT OUT ROOMS TO SHOOT UP IN, LIKE THEY USED TO DO IN THE '90s-----(see "beatnik casbah" blog on "bigblogs" for an ex- "dope fiend" view )

The Editor said...

Ice is by far the most damaging drug and as security tightens around our borders and at airports, the quality drugs that tend to be imported become more scarce. Ice however is manufactured locally so it is taking over.

On the other hand, the Swedes supply heroin to addicts similar to our methodone programs. And gee, nearly half of them now have steady jobs and are paying taxes.

In Holland where you can buy pot at local caf├ęs, only 5% of the population smoke it (here it's 17-19%). But not only that, the Dutch are the tallest people on earth according to Adam Spencer on the radio this morning. So much for the claims that it stunts your growth!

The far right ignore all this of course because they firmly believe that poor people should not have fun.

Excepting that is for thin-lipped puritans like Brian Watters and I suspect Peter Debnam. They believe that because they don't have any fun, no-one should! Prayer and abstinence is their answer (along with an addiction to fame and power). And if it works for them, the rest of us must be flogged into line too! Only without the fame and power.