Friday, 20 June 2008

A Devine Nutter & That Booklet

Not only does a sensible, fact based booklet for students get shredded in a frenzy of moral panic and excessive ignorance but the dangerously stupid Miranda Devine, proves once again how low she will stoop for a story bashing Harm Minimisation. 

In her latest opinion piece, Harm minimisation: just say no, Miranda Devine focusses on the drug education booklet that has caused so much controversy this week. Her articles about drugs are usually flawed with lies, deception and misinformation and get pulled apart every time by people who know the facts. Her latest effort is no different.

Her first example is Anna Wood who died whilst taking ecstasy, although her death was not even due to the drug itself. Devine notes this but slams Dr. Alex Wodak and HM for telling the truth about it. Her example backfires and shows that she considers evidence is less important than perception. Not a good start. This leads into the first of many ridiculous statements: 

“Anna Wood was being co-opted without their permission as a poster girl of the drug harm-minimisation lobby, which has shaped debate about drug use in Australia for 25 years - but is losing credibility as contrary evidence piles up.”

-Miranda Devine. Article - Harm minimisation: just say no

Harm Minimisation is not losing credibility at all except in the tiny, nut sized brains of lunatics like Devine. Dr. Alex Wodak, the director of St. Vincent's Hospital's Alcohol and Drug Service wrote to Anna’s parents and wanted them to help spread the word that if Anna had more knowledge about the effects of ecstasy, she may have lived. For Miranda Devine to give the impression that the actual cause of death by overdosing on too much water seems far fetched, when it is the truth, is disgusting.

The main topic of Devines article is the booklet, Choosing To Use, by the Sydney West Area Health Service. It was not only taken from distribution but shredded. This was one of the many knee jerk reactions from the usual suspects - politicians quick to jump on the drug hysteria bandwagon, religious groups and of course, the MSM. 

But signs that the harm-minimisation lobby's influence may be waning came this week when the NSW Health Minister, Reba Meagher, buckled to angry parents and banned a brochure, Choosing To Use, produced by her Sydney West Area Health Service, which advised year 9 and 10 students "how to keep your head together" if they "choose" to experiment with illegal drugs.

-Miranda Devine. Article - Harm minimisation: just say no

How can a so called Health Minister, react so quickly and just pulp a batch of booklets that were originally approved? I doubt if Reba Meagher even read it. The booklet was fact based and did not encourage drug use at all but rather gave some very basic guidelines on common sense. These 'tips' might just save some lives and if that is a bad point then we really are in a mess. This is the danger of ZT ... people's well being and their lives are secondary to that much hyped up myth of 'sending the wrong message'. Man, how many times has this been trotted out as the main reason to remove the booklet in question instead of actually protecting our children. It is disgraceful that feeling comfortable is more important than kids lives. The booklet though was defended by those with an insight into it’s benefits but denounced by moral elitists, the ignorant and self serving politicians.

"We developed the materials in recognition that drug use and experimental drug use is very prevalent among young people.

We know from ongoing school surveys that up to 50 per cent of young people have experimented with alcohol and illicit drugs by the time they're 16."

-Kevin Hedge, Director - Sydney West Area Health Service / Drug and Alcohol Services

"No, I'm not sorry that we're giving that message and taking that approach," he told the ABC.

"As an educator myself, I've always been of the view that the best education for young people is to give them sufficient information and support and advice so that they themselves can be good decision-makers."

-Trevor Fletcher, Deputy Director-General for Schools - NSW

"The fact is ... every single young person in Sydney, and in fact the whole of Australia, will at some point encounter drugs... We can't avoid that and I believe that they do need education on how to deal with those occurrences."

- Tony Trimingham, Founder - Family Drug Support

S.A. bong shop detective, Ryan Hidden is the latest Zero Tolerance weapon and Devine had no trouble fitting him in to the article. The problem is that Hidden's accounts of HM failing him seem a wee bit dubious, perfect for a dubious article. Hidden recently claimed at the DFA Watch blog: 

Just stumbled upon my name in the above diatribe (who actually reads this?) and want to set the record straight: I am not religious. I don't view drug use as a moral issue, I simply want to prevent others experiencing the trauma and despair I lived as an addict.

-Ryan Hidden. DFA Watch

Paul from DFA Watch produced the evidence that Hidden was all the things he denied. It was hysterical to read reference after reference that Paul dug up.

Hidden’s claims of marijuana addiction isn’t even a recognised condition and his version of HM failing him can be countered by my experience, if we are indeed using personal experience as a replacement for scientific research. 

But he remembers that when he tried to get help to stop his drug use at 16, he came up against the laissez faire attitudes of drug counsellors who would never tell him he needed to stop smoking cannabis. Instead they would say: "Make sure you clean your bong regularly," and suggested he might consider limiting his use to weekends.

-Ryan Hidden. Article - Harm minimisation: just say no

Devine treats Hidden’s comments as gospel but a closer look shows a recent trend by the Zero Tolerance nutters to claim that marijuana is addictive but it is not shared by experts. The drug counsellors he talks of know marijuana is not addictive but a dependancy and breaking the cycle would be more effective than trying to stop outright because of relapse. I’m sure there’s more to the proposed strategy but that would diminish the hysteria. 

Finally, Devine trots out her rubbery figures once again. I am dumbfounded how she can continue to deceive her readers with such regularity and not get called in by her employers to explain herself. Her dodgy evidence from her last two articles on drugs were completely flawed and this article is no better. 

Of course, most young people will use alcohol at some time, and we have a hard enough time coping with the harmful consequences. It's legal, available and popular. Most will not use illegal drugs. In fact, cannabis use by 12- to 15-year-olds fell from 15 per cent in 1996 to 6 per cent in 2005, the Australian Secondary School Students' Use of Alcohol and Drug Survey shows.

-Miranda Devine. Article - Harm minimisation: just say no

In fact over 60% of people WILL use drugs in their life time. Using a small range of 12 - 15 year olds that participated in a school survey where they are constantly told that drug users are the scum of the earth and any use will lead to hell, is misleading. What about 16 - 21 year olds? The “Tough on Drugs” campaign also pushes the Zero Tolerance policy that users will be heavily punished and I’m sure many 12 -15 year olds would be hesitant to put their hand up in that atmosphere.

Yet harm minimisers continue to push for legalisation of the drug even while its popularity wanes and medical evidence mounts of the risks of psychosis and depression. The University of Mississippi this week also found cannabis potency has more than doubled since 1983.

-Miranda Devine. Article - Harm minimisation: just say no

For someone working in the media, Devine doesn’t keep up to date very much. The potency myth has been exposed as a crock of shit. Even though most knowledgable people already knew this, it took the the State University of New York to publically declare the obvious.

While the drug's potency may be rising, marijuana users generally adjust to the level of potency and smoke it accordingly, said Mitch Earleywine, who teaches psychology at the State University of New York in Albany and serves as an adviser for marijuana advocacy groups.

"Stronger cannabis leads to less inhaled smoke," he said

-SMH / The Age (AP)

The links to mental health problems have been wildly exaggerated of late. There is no doubt that those susceptible to or have existing mental health issues have an increased risk of responding badly to cannabis but the chances of serious harm is minimal at best and vastly less dangerous than the effects of alcohol. In fact people working in music venues with loud music also risk mental health problems. As do ambulance workers, doctors, nurses and forensic scientists. I haven’t even touched on powerful legal drugs especially for depression. If a drinker starts having behaviour issues like being violent or has episodes of depression, they are wise to cut back their drinking but Devine & co cannot fathom that a cannabis smoker should do the same. Their frenzied approach dismisses all drug use as dangerous and research just doesn’t back their beliefs. Not that lack of evidence would stop them because they will create their own interpretation as we see again and again. 

Miranda Devine, Ann Bressington, Bill Muehlenberg etc. are to me, some of the most dangerous people in society. They spread fear and lies, ignoring evidence and facts and all for their own personal agendas. Bressington is condemning people to a short, miserable life with HIV/AIDS by encouraging the sharing of the now illegal ‘ice’ pipes that can transfer blood caused by burnt lips. Her 'caring attitudes' is also driving grass smokers to resort to home made bongs and they risk permanent damage to their lungs from the toxic plastics used. Yes, a really caring attitude from a delusional, power mad bogan. Miranda Devine is part of the propaganda campaign that keeps government ministers scared to be labelled ‘soft on drugs’ if they dare question the failed punitive approach. A ploy shameless used by Bressington in the past. Their personal views costs lives and causes misery beyond comprehension. Their scant regard for science and medical based treatment is disgusting especially as they claim to be authorities on such complex issues. Forgive me if I sound critical of the Zero Tolerance crowd but simply put, they have blood on their hands and it upsets me that they prey on people’s suffering as a way to satisfy their own selfish motives.

Related Links

Bad Mood Bubby - Smelly Tongues Blog

Nanny State in Untrammelled Triumph - Kings Cross Times

Youth for DFA biography - DFA Watch

Harm Minimisation: Just Say No - Miranda Devine (SMH)

Education Department in Disarray Over Drug Pamphlet - Daily Telegraph


Ross Sharp said...

Read Mia Freedman's column in today's SMH, Terry. Eminently sensible and pragmatic ... I also had a dummy spit on Devine yesterday, but was far less polite than yourself.

Mikey_Capital said...

The moment I read Divine's article I just knew there would be a response coming from your way :)

thr said...

There's a debate on subsidised methadone happening at Lefty's site:

Not recommended if you have blood pressure problems.

Terry Wright said...

Thanks Rev, I did my duty and made a comment.

Yes, Mikey, I am predictable. Especially when it comes to RW journalists er, I mean moralists.

Ross, I added your rant to my article as a link. You're right too, much less polite than me. LOL