Aug 252009

The government has finally decided, it appears, to ban what people are calling ‘legal highs’: unscheduled party drugs that, like any other substance on the planet which you choose to ingest, can kill you in certain circumstances.

The two drugs, known as BZP and GBL, have been linked to a number of deaths.

‘A number’? How many, exactly?

In May, a coroner in Sheffield linked BZP, also known as herbal ecstasy, to the death last year of 22-year-old mortgage broker Daniel Backhouse.

It is understood that Mr Backhouse had also taken ecstasy.

This is a bit like saying, ‘A coroner linked BZP to the death last year of Daniel Backhouse. It is understood that Mr Backhouse had also been run over by a backhoe.’ Classic post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. But still, that’s one of our ‘number of deaths.’

Here’s another:

Hester Stewart, who was 21 and a medical student, died after taking GBL in Brighton. Both drugs would be classified as Class C.

Hester Stewart’s mother, Maryon, has campaigned for legal highs to be banned.

She told the BBC News Channel: “I’m delighted. I think the Home Office is moving in the right direction.

“We need to tell people that GBL plus alcohol can equal death. Hester hadn’t had that much alcohol and then later on that evening an old friend of hers gave her half a dose of GBL which he said was safe.

“So the two mixed together just sent her into a coma and she didn’t wake up…”

Maryon Stewart is the same woman who, back in April, was weeping all over Telegraph reporters that if the government had just banned this shit ages ago like it promised, her daughter would never have died:

“How can the Home Office not be accountable for something like this? How come it’s not classified? How could this happen?

“Some pen-pusher somewhere should be able to work out how to ban it,” said Mrs Stewart. “How come they hesitated?

“This is a disaster. It’s just beyond belief that something like this could have happened to such a brilliant, caring, intelligent girl who had so much to offer the whole world, not just her family.

“I feel gutted, I feel cheated, I feel bitterly frustrated and angry that this has been allowed to happen.”

I tried to be vaguely sympathetic the last time I wrote about this – some may claim I failed even then – but now there is simply no excuse. This interfering fucking busybody exemplifies all that is wrong with a certain sort of person today. In blaming the Home Office for failing to ban this drug and thus prevent her daughter’s death, she absolves herself (and her daughter) of all responsibility. By her own account, a friend gave her daughter the pill, claiming it was safe. WTF? I like my friends, and by and large I trust them, but even at the relatively still-stoopid age of 21, I would never have taken a random pill at a party without knowing what it was. I’m sure many people would, and do, and nothing bad happens, but that’s the chance one takes. Didn’t Maryon Stewart teach her daughter this stuff? She is, after all,

a founder of the Natural Health Advisory Service and presents a series on a satellite television channel. “In my work I teach people how to look after themselves and all the stuff I do is caring about people, and that’s the kind of environment Hessie’s been brought up in,” she said. “I’m just gutted the Home Office didn’t care enough.”

That’s right. It’s the Home Office’s fault for not caring enough about

the third person to have died in the past 12 months after taking GBL

Yup. There’s our ‘number of deaths.’ 3.

Last August, the Government’s drugs advisers told the Home Office that the substance should be classified as a Class C drug.

But because it also has a use as an industrial solvent – in the plastics industry and as a nail polish remover – officials have been delayed in framing the legislation. It is banned for personal use in America, Canada and Sweden.

Who are these drug advisers? Is it the same Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs who recommended the downgrading of ecstasy to class B, amongst other things – most of whose recommendations about drugs policy (that is, in fact, what the ACMD exists to make) are ignored by the government when they conflict with the Daily Mail’s anti-drugs crusade?

Probably not, or the article would have told us. Instead, we must wonder at these shadowy drug advisers who wish to pursue anti-drugs policies that have been super-successful in such utopian drug-free countries as…the United States.

(Leave aside the fact that GBL is an industrial solvent used in nail-polish remover. Have you ever smelled that stuff? It says right on the bottle that it’s not for internal consumption. Only a fucking idiot would ingest it.)

But all of this is by the by, really; here is what’s happened. Slightly rebellious young adult goes to party, does the equivalent of slurping nail-polish remover, dies. Mom-in-denial blames Home Office. Home Office bans slurping nail-polish remover. The one-woman crusade has succeeded. Surely the biggest problem here is not the drugs, nor even the banning of them, but the fact that one guilt-stricken grieving woman has the power to influence government policy.

Wait, that’s happened before?

  10 Responses to “Bansturbation by proxy successful – again”

  1. Bella

    If you’re going to stay this side of the looking glass it might be advisable to dispense with logic, if only to keep your blood pressure within reasonable limits.

  2. How many idiots die each year of glue/aerosol abuse, I don’t see calls to ban these. People like this make me sick and is typical of our blame everyone else society, the young girl experimented made a mistake and paid the ultimate price, her mother should accept it and move on.

  3. Spot-on. In a sane country this story would be filed under ‘shit happens’.

    What’s sinister about constantly and unthinkingly blaming the government for ‘not preventing’ stuff like this (and even far worse things like Baby P) is the implication the government really is responsible for us. It concedes the whole enchilada, in exchange for the fleeting satisfactions of blaming/sacking minor officials.

  4. It is perhaps also worth noting that ‘banning stuff that people like to do’ is already government policy. I can just imagine how far a grieving mother campaigning to have heroin legalised because its prohibited status made it more attractive to her dead son…

  5. …would get.

  6. The government just loves to ban stuff, especially fun stuff. It makes it look like they are doing something useful instead of just scouring the latest Habitat catalogue to see what the taxpayer can buy them for the living room. It also makes them look like they’re doing something useful about social problems, or at least it does in their heads. Unless Hestor Stewart was forced to take this drug against her will then the one and only person responsible for her death is herself. Not the Home Office. Why does no one ever take responsibility for their own actions any more?

  7. Girl dies from bee sting. Ban all bees.

    Woman run over by train. Ban all trains.

    Boy drowns in sea trying to rescue dog. Ban the sea. Or should it be dogs?

    Man falls out of bed, hits head and dies. Ban beds?

    Hang on a minute. Do you see the pattern here?


  8. I despise this Labour government sufficiently that if I could, I’d blame Alan Johnson, and before him, Jacqui Smith, for the rabbits having just nipped off my carnation cuttings; my wife buying too many frocks (‘they were in the sale’); my 2-years-old hernia op. giving me a twinge now and then, and the fact that it seems to piss down all the time.

    However, in all conscience I can’t. And neither do I blame them for the sad death of a free-thinking, mature 21-year-old who, had she still been around, would probably have told a nanny government, about to ban the relevant substance, to fuck right off.

  9. The ban on violent porn was also a one-woman campaign following the death of her daughter. Yup, it’s happened before and will again.

  10. Moms whose kids have been hurt/killed are one of the greatest threats to liberty, sadly. Nobody dares tell them to shut the fuck up, because they’re upset mothers. I mentioned over on Cats the other day an argument I had with a campaigning mother a couple of years ago; her son had been hurt in a fight in a nightclub so she wanted drinking glasses banned. That’s going ahead now. I remember one particular point when she pointed at a glass on her little display table and said “it’s outrageous that they allow deadly weapons in nightclubs!” and I replied with some intensity, “That’s not a weapon, it’s a drinking utensil!“.

    Whatever. As our debate went on, people toddled up one after another to sign her petition; none of whom appeared demographically to be the nightclubbing type. I pointed out to one middle aged bloke that if they ban glasses in nightclubs, pubs would be next. A look of horror appeared on his face; the woman assured him, “Oh no, it’s just nightclubs” and he went away happy that he’d signed a petition for somebody else to be treated like a child and, no, really, there’s no such thing as the slippery slope. Ho hum.

    So, well, mothers. Enormous risk to liberty, so they are. They ought to be banned.

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