“have you seen The Wire?”

Bobballs’ first blog round-up for the Belfast Telegraph included a suitably sceptical post by Keith Belfast in the face of apparent local political unanimity in support of the banning of mephedrone – despite actual evidence of harm from the drug’s use being largely absent and amid concerns about political interference in the work of the advisory council on the misuse of drugs. At his Guardian blog Roy Greenslade picks up on a column by Simon Jenkins in the same paper and Johann Hari at the Independent. As Roy Greenslade points out

They are writing sense when all about them are writing and doing the opposite. The media’s coverage of mephedrone has been disproportionate to its dangers to society. Nothing new in that, however. Some four years ago I wrote an article for Druglink magazine in which I pointed out that the media’s handling of drug issues does more harm than good. I take on board the editorial agenda, especially at popular papers, in which drugs of all kinds (except alcohol) are viewed as “evil” and those that deal in them or use them are deviants who must be punished.

But there is a denial of reality in much of the hysterical media coverage of drugs (and that denial is often hypocritical too, given that many journalists have more than an editorial knowledge of drug-taking). It leads to hyped and inaccurate reporting. It pressures government into knee-jerk political responses. And not only does it not stop drug use, it often tends to increase it.

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  • Cynic2

    Good heavens I am truly shocked that this should happen

  • Ramzi Nohra

    On the money Pete. There is not a more failed social policy in the western world than drug prohibition.

    Still, it seems almost heresy to suggest it.

  • andnowwhat

    I’ve been a doorman for over 20 years and customers behaviour on drint vs on recreational drugs is a total no contest.

    It’s a lack of understanding and information on drugs that leads (mostly) to the problems we have.

    For the most part, drugs and drink do not mix and this is a very valuable point that is not heard.

    Give people the information to make the right choices

  • The Raven

    “despite actual evidence of harm from the drug’s use being largely absent”

    I can’t really say too much for reasons of respecting the privacy of others, but there has been a real fall-out from the use of this substance in the North West. Kids and dealers where I live and in surrounding towns, are stockpiling it – quite literally – in advance of any ban.

    I agree with the thrust of Pete’s point. I have no idea however, what the long term answer to the problem is. I’ll stick these in for reference though:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/foyle_and_west/8593363.stm

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/mephedrone-a-lot-of-work-still-needs-to-be-done-says-grieving-dad-14747314.html

    http://www.londonderrysentinel.co.uk/news/Mephedrone-warning.6197530.jp

  • socaire

    I’d say if you watched you child die a horrible death from drugs supplied by somebody ‘with understanding and information’, you would make the right choices.

  • Danny Boy

    The Andersonstown News recently published a series of vox pops on mephedrone in which one man’s argument for banning it was that it must be dangerous because ‘it’s a heroin substitute’. No mention anywhere in the paper that the guy was thinking of the wrong drug. Quality journalism!

  • The Raven

    What’s more sad, Danny? The misinformation from the next generation up, or the publishing of it…?

  • Pete Baker

    Raven

    I don’t know what you think those particular press reports represent, but they’re certainly not “actual evidence of harm from the drug’s use”.

    The first report is evidence of a creative defence lawyer.

    And a judge with no knowledge of popular beat combos…

  • The Raven

    Pete, I’ll drop you a line.

  • RepublicanStones

    There was a two page spread in one of the comics last weekend about some young fella beating his mate up whilst on this stuff. If every violent incident with alcohol involved recieved similar treatment, there’d be nowhere in those rags for the titty picture.

  • Pete Baker

    Raven

    There better be a more thorough interrogation of your sources than you’ve evidenced so far.

  • andnowwhat

    So Socaire, what do you say to our clubs and pubs that promote shooters, encourage chugging booze, cheap promotions aimed exclusively at our young, massively over charge for soft drinks and bulk purchase offers by offys and supermarkets?

  • The Raven

    Cheers Pete, and thanks for the response. I am sure this will appear again, and perhaps I will be in a better position to post more.

  • Pigeon Toes

    And yet the Swine Flu and HPV vaccines are considered “entirely safe”?

    But those who question the suitability of these are equally considered hysterical.

    Hmm