Melanie Phillips, author of such calmly objective columns in the Daily Mail as ‘To place children with two gay men when an adoptive mother and father are available is a sickening assault on family life‘, is seemingly incapable of catching a point even when lobbed at her underhand at 20mph with a wiffle ball. Witness today’s column, entitled ‘Drugs no worse than horse-riding? The folly of these ‘experts’ simply beggars belief,’ in which she attacks everything about the recent statements by Prof. David Nutt, head of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs except (a) what he actually said, and (b) his funny name.
Let’s take a quick look at the Outrage-O-Meter. Sarcastic questions with tone of faux incredulity? Check.
Has April Fools’ Day come early this year?
Hyperbolic language? Check. [Emphasis mine.]
Yet the Advisory Council will this week propose the downgrading of ecstasy from category A to category B — having apparently learned nothing from the debacle over cannabis, the downgrading of which contributed to an explosion of all drug use.
More astonishingly still, Professor Nutt has said that ecstasy is less dangerous than horse-riding.
In an academic paper, he ridiculed concern about the effects of ecstasy by comparing it to ‘equasy’ or ‘Equine Addiction Syndrome’.
You really do have to scrape your jaw off the floor. Not only will such trivialisation of ecstasy cause grave distress to parents whose children have died from taking the drug, but it knocks the ground from under the feet of parents terrified that their children will start taking it.
Cherry-picking or misrepresentation of facts and/or statistics? Check.
The only reason there are not many more deaths from ecstasy is that unlike horseriding, it is illegal.
And the ill-effects of ecstasy are not limited to death. Professor Nutt says horseriding can lead to brain damage — but fails to say that ecstasy almost inevitably harms the brain.
Pardon me while I laugh myself silly at the linguistic inexactitude of the phrase ‘almost inevitably.’
Faulty syllogisms? Check.
His co-director, Amanda Neidpath, who advocates the bizarre practice of ‘trepanation’ (boring a hole in the skull) as a protective measure against dementia, told a meeting of the World Psychedelic Forum that the Beckley Foundation’s projects included investigating the ‘possible beneficial use of micro-doses of LSD to improve cerebral circulation’.
Goodness me, micro-doses of LSD! Give ’em an inch, and soon we’ll all be trippin’. Because something is an illegal recreational drug does not mean it hasn’t got its legitimate uses, just as because something is a legal pharmacological treatment for illness does not mean it isn’t dangerous.
Unsubstantiated claims? Check.
The Advisory Council is riddled with ‘harm reduction’ advocates who, believing it impossible to prevent young people from using illegal drugs at all, are therefore reluctant to admit the full extent of the harm they actually do.
For substantiated claims, and a very thorough analysis of UK drug policy and the role of the Advisory Council, see Unity’s excellent piece at the Ministry of Truth.
Hysterical blaming? Check.
The single most important reason why Britain’s drug problem is now out of control is that a critical mass of defeatist police officers, spineless politicians, global legalisation lobbyists with bottomless pockets and the ‘great and the good’, determined to prevent their drug-taking offspring from acquiring criminal records, all talk down the risks of drug use and talk up legalisation.
And finally, graceless and inapropos classical allusion? Check.
Horse-riding it isn’t; but there’s an Augean stables here which cries out to be cleaned.
In her ill-informed, righteous indignation, Ms Phillips echoes Home Secretary and total whore Jacqui Smith, who also missed the boat entirely.
The boat, point, and plot being that Prof Nutt was not making a claim about the empirical dangers of ecstasy. He was making an observation about contemporary British views regarding risk: namely, that some extremely risky behaviours are not only legal but even encouraged, whilst others that are statistically no more life-threatening are stigmatised and criminalised (an argument elegantly proffered, with emphasis on Home Secretary and total whore Jacqui Smith’s hypocrisy vis a vis compliance with law, by the pithy Mr Eugenides).
Is it really so much to ask that the journalists who are meant to protect and promote our traditional liberties not be blithering, propagandising, disingenuous morons?