Thursday, October 22, 2009

'Experts' repeat the dogma of moral panic

They've been around for years but the Adelaide Advertiser has just discovered a website for ecstasy users who exchange information about different pills. The users see it as a way of safeguarding  against the dangers of bad or dud pills, a risk that prohibition creates in the first place as there is no regulation or quality control beyond the efforts and goodwill of those who make the product.

But the Advertiser demonises the site as "an open forum for illicit narcotics dealers and users... exposing the truth about Adelaide's drug underworld." Not that ecstasy is even a narcotic but that's a minor detail to tabloid hacks.

"It's a really worrying trend," opines one sententious 'expert' who would apparently prefer kids swallowing pills to have absolutely no information about their effects (given that total abstinence is just not going to happen).

One user reported on the 'horrific' results of taking his pills:

"I was dancing and chatty and had some nice feelings on them," 'machetevip' said.

The Police were not impressed, saying the site provided no safeguards. But then, neither does prohibition.

A look at today reveals warnings about adulterated pills circulating, while it leads with a news story about a death in the UK possibly connected to a "rogue batch" of pills. There is a link to an online counselling site.

In its introduction the site states "Please Note: exists as a harm reduction tool and does not condemn or condone ecstasy use."

Far from exposing the 'underworld of narcotics dealers', this site appears to be a responsible and effective tool to safeguard the millions who prefer ecstasy to the coarse effects of toxic alcohol.

But then the Advertiser did publish the web address, so I guess they are really doing users a favour, while covering all bases by couching the report in shock-horror language that reinforces assumptions that prohibition is valid.

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