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  1. chillinwill
    Meow. Meow?

    The media’s mephedrone coverage has been at best misinformed, and at worst wilfully misleading

    A decade ago, a legal party drug was slaying teenagers all across England. The drug’s street name was ‘cake’, and many of its users died after crying their entire bodily fluid through their eyes. Still more copped it after contracting something called ‘Czech Neck’, a swelling of the neck until it engulfed the brain. One addict threw up her own pelvis bone.

    If it sounds made-up, well, that’s because it was. Comedian Chris Morris invented the ‘drug’ to show how easy it is for a misinformed media to whip the public into an outraged frenzy about absolutely nothing at all. His stunt worked. Gullible celebrities flocked to condemn cake on camera. Rolf Harris denounced cake on Morris’s show, Brass Eye; Noel Edmonds was filmed lamenting the death of a cake-addicted Prague teenager who’d died after losing his sense of time; and gullible MP David Amess actually raised the issue in the House of Commons.

    This is hilarious, we all thought, but presumably a one-off. Surely this wouldn’t again happen without Morris’s meddling?

    But this year, it did. A few months ago, the media – entirely of their own accord – starting getting hysterical about something called mephedrone. The drug, they said, apparently nicknamed ‘meow meow’, ‘M-cat’, or ‘plant fertiliser’, was slaying teenagers all across England. “‘Meow meow’ drug teen ripped his scrotum off’”, screamed The Sun. “Man blasts himself in head with shotgun ‘after meow meow party’,” countered The Mail, before raising the ante with “Aspiring soldier hangs himself from tree ‘hours after taking meow meow’.” In total, newspapers have linked twenty-six deaths to mephedrone usage, and flooded their pages with countless more near-misses.

    Tragedies, all of them. But, here’s the thing: tragic though they were, only one of these deaths was ever linked directly to mephedrone. Reading beyond the headlines, it turned out that many so-called meph victims died after taking a plethora of drugs in a single burst, only one of which was drone. And several more supposed mephedrone victims might not have even taken the drug in the first place.

    All these scare-stories were therefore rooted in mere conjecture. Journalists were simply repeating things which had no concrete factual basis. They even got the names wrong. We were continually told that mephedrone had street-names as far-fetched as ‘meow meow’ and ‘M-cat’, but in both London and Cambridge I have never once heard it called either of those things. People call it ‘drone’, ‘meph’, and – occasionally by those confusing it with heroin-substitute methadone – ‘meth’. (Journalists presumably weren’t helped by policemen like chief inspector Mark Oliver, who lazily told reporters that one victim’s death was “linked to M-cat.” Have you ever heard an on-record policeman daring to call cocaine ‘charlie’? I thought not.) The whole media hysteria – from the minor details to the central allegations – seems then to be at best founded on a mine of misinformation and ignorance.

    But these stories weren’t just the result of uninformed reporting. They were often just intentionally disingenuous. Journalists were aware that no one knew exactly why these people died, and certainly couldn’t be sure of how much, if any, a role mephedrone played in their deaths. Journalists knew all this – they even included these mitigations in their articles – but they buried them at the bottom of their final paragraphs, beneath their misleading headlines.

    Those of us who know drone-users are aware that the drug is not without its dangers. There are side-effects, and vile come-downs. And I do not doubt that mephedrone, like alcohol, will have very serious consequences when taken in excess or in combination with other substances. But to imply, at this early stage, that it is a mass-murdering, generation-culling poison is a myth created only to sell newspapers.

    by Patrick Kingsley
    April 26, 2010


  1. Frenzal
    Best article on drone I've ever read.
  2. littleonion
    Swim remembers the cake stunt, also the fake charity appeal to rescue an elephant who had gotten it's trunk stuck inside it's rectum?!
    Yeah exactly, seems people, especially journalists and celebs don't really take the time to think, but would rather too willingly jump on any old bandwagon which happens to be passing by. Good for PR right?!

    Anyway as the old cliché goes; since when has a journalist let the truth get in the way of a good story, that's exactly what happens. Anything to sell a paper.

    The problem seems to be when the public at large and even government begin to believe the BS tossed around by ill-informed and often none too bright journalists.

    Swim is sure that the UK government has an alternative agenda relating to the ban on mephedrone. It's not just about safety right? General election anyone?
  3. the_snorter
    swim lives liverpool area, its called m cat and meow here.
    swim was ranting when he seen some of the head lines in the papers, he even kicked off on the shopkeeper saying how can you sell so much bulls41t.
  4. Valseedian
    m-cat I've heard.. I've also heard maiow in higher risk places, but meow meow... sounds like a 4yr old made it up (or a primary schooler.. which I'm sure was the intent)
  5. Joelacus
    Look at the hysteria papers can cause with factually mades up story! Just like Jonathon Ross and Russell brand all over again! We live in a prodomitly middle class society these days who are very scared of the real world so they but 4x4's and despise the young. The media exploits this. Remember 'Brocken Brittian'? That turned the minority into majority in the pulics eys. Every young person was carrying a knife. Also every muslim is a suicide bomber

    What alarms me is how quickly the govenment banned Mephedrone after the headlines. They are not willing to listen to professional, interpendent advice (David Nutt) on how to control and make RC's as safe as can be. Instead the listen to papers that have boobs on page3.

    Now because of this they have made things more dangerous in my opinion. When my Panda first took mephedrone there was mauntains of information about safe dosages and eperiances good and bad. The first time he felt his heart racing a million miles an hour he didn't freak out and make things worse but he'd spoke to other animals who had experienced that before and dealt with.

    I've recently seen a couple new plant food brands available and can find little or no imformation about them. Common sense tells us not to touch them but natural couriousity disagrees. When someone dies from these do you even think it will make the nationals? Of course not, threre focus will be switched to a new focus, the driving age raised to 21 because an 18 year caused an acciedent for example.

    The whose one from this campaign? Not Mephedrone users, as mentioned by others, in almost all the deaths other substance were used, so these people took drugs before hand. Drugs they previously brought of drug dealers. What quality control is placed on these drugs? Ordinary, hard working people are mixing with criminals. How do you think the dealers spend the money? Probably on drug rehabilitation centres. That or importanting illegal immigrants into the country to profit off the sex trade.

    Near where I live an unemployed man with a criminal record for dealing and violent crimes brought a large order before the ban. He will sell at an inflated price and cut it. We're responsible for creating a society where he can prosper and people leaving scool's and uni's can't get honest jobs.

    There is an election on at the moment. How much will you allow the media to swig your vote?
  6. Erumelithil
    Completely right guys! Once the newspapers start ranting, it's game over. For some reason, it seems that the general public will believe, unquestioningly, anything shocking or frightening if it is in a newspaper.

    People are so conditioned to equate "Drugs" with "BAD" in their heads, that when the media begins a campaign of hysteria, they just go along with it.

    Nobody seems to stop and ask, "Did any of these journalists go into a headshop and buy any of these items, try them out, note their effects, then form an opinion based on first hand experience before writing their "conclusive" stories?"
    People will sit at home and watch TV shows like "Booze Britain", and see crowds of hammered drunk idiots spill out of pubs and clubs, only to end up falling all over the place, beat the shit out of each other, crash cars, injure themselves and others, then abuse the police.
    They'll watch that and think, "oh that's terrible," yet when they get a rumour or a bit of hearsay about someone ending up in A&E after taking mephedrone, they are up in arms, calling for an immediate ban.
    Does nobody see the insane logic there? Why aren't they picketing the pubs and off licences if they are so worried about the effect of mind altering substances on the youth of the nation?

    As for the speed with which the ban went through, the total unwillingness to entertain any research or explore the idea of regulation and the hard line the government has taken (in the UK aswell as here in Ireland), I doubt that the government actually believe everything that they are reading in the papers.

    The fact is that it's too controversial an issue, and the parties (here and over there) who are in power at the moment, are hanging on for dear life.
    They can't afford for a topic like this to become a major election campaign issue.
    I think that even the most liberal of governments would be absolutely terrified of somebody dying, and having it conclusively linked to a legal high, while the campaign was heating up.
    The opposition would rub that death in the faces of their rivals, and use it to score points, citing the governments "failure to act on this vital issue leading to deaths in our streets" etc etc. (As would the media, who would love nothing more than a young, dead, legal high user to sell a few more papers.)

    It's a shame that this issue arose at such a politically volatile time, because otherwise there might have been some leeway, openmindedness or consideration given to the issue.
    At very least, some kind of report would have been requested in order to ascertain which of these RC's posed actual dangers, and which may just have been a bit of harmless fun.

    I think that it has been such a missed opportunity, to take a significant portion of the drug trade out of the hands of violent criminal gangs, and make it a good taxable industry.
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