By Alfa · Jul 18, 2004 · ·
  1. Alfa

    Why I'll always stick up for the underdog

    IT'S strange that Inspector Gavin Tempest of Operation Enterprise feels I
    was "making light" of his attempts to target drug offenders in Norwich in
    last week's column.

    I was being deadly serious, but I'll try to answer his points on
    recreational drug use and the hypocritical sledgehammer-on-a-nut tactics he
    currently supports. Gavin would have us believe that sniffer dogs in clubs
    are driven by health and safety concerns, rather than legal or personal
    freedom issues. Let me just tear that down for a second, if I may.

    The dangers of E'd-up dancers overheating in clubs is real, but fairly rare
    and even rarer when Norwich clubs kick out at 2am, rather than 6am or 7am as
    they do in the capital. If city club owners genuinely cared about their
    clientele, they would provide information, free water, chill-out areas and
    stand-by medics as most clubs do in London, rather than having their
    customers criminalised. There's a big difference' between warning kids about
    the dangers of drugs and arresting them for experimenting.

    I'm sure Gavin encouraged his children not to talk to strangers, but would
    he lock them up for saying hello to someone in the street? I quite agree
    that many young clubbers lack education, but the idea that unscrupulous drug
    dealers see "inexperienced drinkers" as a "niche" market is sensationalist

    Instead, look a little closer to home. Clubs arc there to make money and
    they do so by offering things like "drink all you can for a tenner" alcopop
    deals (see practically any chain bar in Norwich right now).

    According to Sir Donald Acheson ex-Government Chief Medical Officer. "it
    seems self-evident that alcopops appeal to those who are still drinking soft
    drinks, (and) have a tendency to habituate people to alcohol in childhood" -
    a niche market of "potential victims" exploited by unscrupulous drug
    dealers? Yeah, that's more like it, Gavin.

    Alcohol is a drug. but do you call your local barman a pusher? No? Why not
    Every time I turn my TV on I see alcohol ads funded by the brewery giants of
    the Government-endorsed Portman Group. Seems like drug pushing to me and I
    should know - I've advertised beer. I've also met a fair amount of
    drug-dealers in my life, but not one of them has ever tried to "push" drugs
    on me. The myth that they prowl outside schools forcing narcotics on
    innocents is reactionary Daily Mail twaddle. Drug dealers exist because
    people like taking drugs
    and they are the only people who supply them.

    The uncomfortable truth, rarely mentioned, is the enormous amount of
    pleasure that people get from taking drugs like Ecstasy. Accept that treat
    them like adults and give them education, rather than arresting them or
    driving them to less well regulated underground raves -- you know, the kind
    which get raided by Norfolk police using CS gas.

    What did make me smile is Gavin's statement that club owners are introducing
    dogs to their premises to protect clubbers from the "dangers of controlled
    drugs". Excuse me for being cynical, but 1 think it's closer to the truth
    that club owners whose customers take controlled substances on their
    premises risk losing their highly-lucrative licences and, even more
    pointedly, kids on pills don't drink much booze -- they drink water. And
    there's no profit in water.

    If you want evidence of the link between the breweries and hysterical
    anti-drugs propaganda, look no further than the cynical, reactionary and
    utterly misleading "Sorted" billboards that followed Leah Betts's death.
    This UKP1 million nationwide poster campaign was paid for. For FREE. by
    media buyers Booth Lockett and Martin, Knight Leech and Delaney and FFI -
    companies whose biggest client is, hang on. Lowenbrau! Impartial and
    altruistic benevolence on their part. I think not. Also, the powers allowing
    police to impose draconian fines on illegal rave organisers in the
    Fntertainment (Increased Penalties) Act of 1990 was a private member's bill
    pushed through by Tory MP Graham Bright.

    Bright then represented Luton home of the HQ of brewery giants Whitbread
    plc. When the 1994 Neil Hamilton "Cash For Questions" scandal emerged.
    Hamilton and Bright were both damningly linked to lobbyists lan Greer
    Associates, whose leading client was, wait for it, Whitbread' Curiouser and
    curiouser said Alice, before the police nabbed her for eating "magic

    Any drug death is a tragedy but lets put it into perspective: 5,000 people
    die every year from alcohol misuse. On average, seven people die a year from
    Ecstacy. Taking into account the very lowest user statistics, that's a
    relative risk factor of 1in 1,000,000, making Ecstasy statistically safer
    than coarse fishing, playing Sunday football or eating in Italian
    Restaurants Oh and by the way. Ecstasy didn't kill Leah Betts --excessive
    amounts of water did, just as it would if you sat at your table and did it

    May I suggest that any of the "minority" that Gavin predicted would support
    my views (any of the 1.000.000 regular users of E or 3.000,000 regular
    cannabis smokers) write letters to Lowenbrau and the other big breweries,
    suggesting they show posters of people in drink-drive comas, lying in pools
    of blood or vomit, or reduced to quivering wrecks by alcoholism with the
    catchy phrase: "Hey' Whose round is it?"

    Drug addiction is no joke, but there's a vast difference between weekend
    pill and dope users and drug addicts. A bit like, oh. I don't know, people
    who like a few pints on Riverside and certified alcoholics. say.

    When it comes to addiction in this country, alcoholics outnumber smackheads
    1,000 to one and heroin and crack will never be the drug of choice for the
    vast, vast majority of recreational users. While cocaine. although
    increasingly popular, is still out of most young clubbers' price range.

    Let's be honest, when it comes to drugs in clubs, this week Gavin is mostly
    meaning Ecstasy and hash and I'd refer him to the stats above. And in most
    users' minds, Ecstacy and cannabis are about as closely related to heroin
    and crack as Stewart White is to Haile Selassie--and unless there's a damn
    fine scandal about to emerge, that's not very close at all.

    And before you trot out the "soft drugs lead on to hard drugs" cliche, the
    gateway drug to heroin has always been tobacco, with 100 percent of
    smackheads starting off on cigarettes . - that other great addictive taxed
    mass killer.

    To group all drugs under the same umbrella is as nonsensical and ludicrous
    as saying that because crocodiles sometimes kill people, all animals are
    bad. therefore all pet owners should be arrested.

    Sadly, some users will go on become heroin addicts or die in clubs. But a
    far, far. far smaller minority than Gavin's "thousands of law abiding"
    drinkers who will go on to become victims or perpetrators of the 70 per cent
    of murders, 75 per cent of stabbings and 50 per cent of domestic assaults
    attributed to good old alcohol every year.

    My views may be backed only by the minority, but while drug users are
    treated like criminals rather than human beings, I'll keep sticking up for
    the underdog, rather than the sniffer dog, thank you

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  1. sands of time
    Hmm... I agreed with everything in the article although some of the info wasn't as clear cut as it may seem. Although more people die from alcohol than other drugs, many more people use alcohol than other drugs.
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