Monday, February 08, 2010

Drug War dumbs down police, media

Reporting of the War against Drugs in NSW over the weekend again sunk to a nonsensical level of fallacy and propaganda, covering our police and major media in shame.

Both The Sun-Herald and ABC News parroted inaccurate media output from Police Minister Michael Daley but obtained no opposing comment, breaking rule 101 of journalism.

Here's a summary of what Daley said, with rebuttals in counterpoint.

From The Sun-Herald:
NSW Minister for Police Michael Daley said the heroin seized last year was equivalent to 24 million hits and would hopefully drive up the price of drugs and deter use.
-- but driving up the price increases the profit motive in the black market, and attracts greater interest from local and overseas exporters. And 24 million hits sounds like a lot but is only a tiny fraction of the annual market, same as every year. The article lists increases in arrests for most drugs, especially ecstasy. This could reflect different police priorities or it could reflect greater supply and use, which would make a mockery of the War.

From ABC News:
Police praised for cannabis busts
The New South Wales Government has commended the state's police for seizing $50 million worth of cannabis in the past three months.
-- With the national Crime Commission estimating the imported drugs market alone at up to $12 billion annually, police interceptions are and always were just a scratch on the surface. But they never put their overblown estimates in that context.
"We have intelligence from the public. We used helicopters heavily this week in the Tweed, went up in the air and looked down for the plantations on the ground [and] different colouration of vegetation," he said.
-- So they rely on people dobbing in their neighbours and spending a fortune on polluting helicopter surveillance to stop a few people using a recreational drug that's far safer than alcohol.
Unfortunately some people think of cannabis as a soft drug. It isn't. 
-- but it is, Mr Daley
It does cause psychosis. 
-- maybe, but only in a tiny fraction of one percent of users, making it far safer than just about anything.
It's a gateway drug to heavier use
-- No it's not, Mr Daley, although your War on Drugs makes sure that anyone who has access to it on the black market can likely get harder drugs from the same source. For a start, simple mathematics shows that only a tiny percentage of cannabis users ever inject harder drugs. However propagandists like Mr Daley will quote the opposite statistic, that nearly all hard drug users used cannabis first, ignoring that they probably used alcohol before that. Here's some recent research that Mr Daley should read before mouthing discredited truisms in future...

But his fallacies continue:
and it's a cash crop for bikie gangs and organised crime.
-- only because your War on Drugs creates the opportunity for criminals to get into the business, Mr Daley. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophesy.
New South Wales police say they have seized more than 50,000 cannabis plants - with an estimated street value of $190 million - over the past year.
See above re the total value of the drugs market. And the police always overstate the value of seized drugs.

But Mr Daley is not just spouting discredited information to a slavish, unprofessional media. he is attempting to shore up his own police force. This from the USA's Alternet blog, asking why police always say the same sort of stuff:

"Plain and simple. They are motivated by self-interest. Their very jobs depend on a steady stream of arrests and prosecutions. And marijuana users are their cash cow, with arrests totaling a staggering 847,863 in 2008. As long as the marijuana arrests keep coming, so do their paychecks. Keep this in mind the next time you hear a law enforcement official explaining why we need to “protect our streets” from this “dangerous drug.”



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