Saturday, 13 December 2008

Journalist Should Be Ashamed

Just as I finished posting about a rare occurrence where the MSM wrote something sensible concerning drug use, I find one of the most pretentious and overdone articles I have ever seen in the Australian media. It’s probably no surprise to you that the article is from the Daily Telegraph and it’s author, Fiona Connolly has exceeded their own dismal standards and produced what seems to be, a Piers Akerman style masterpiece. Akerman and Connolly are work buddies so maybe there’s been some in-house tuition going on. How else could Connolly come up with such crap?


Cokehead Should be Ashamed
The Daily Telegraph
By Fiona Connolly
December 2008

HER heart is thumping. She can feel it pulsing in her throat, a loud wooshing sound ringing in her ears.

It's loud enough it drowns out the noise of the pokies and the dull beats spilling out of The Bourbon. Her toes are sticky. Damn it, there's blood on her foot. She hitches her micro mini and bends over to take a look. But it's no good, she can't see.

She blinks, or are her eyes actually flitting now? She can't tell. The bright lights of the Cross are as blurry as hell.

OK, try to focus on that Macca's sign then, she thinks. But she can't. The wobbling yellow sign makes her laugh out loud, even though she's alone. Even though blood is dripping from her nose.

She's been drinking for 24 hours and is still not drunk. A couple of grams will do that to you, she laughs to herself.

All right, so her nose is stuffed but if she could just scab one more line from someone, just a bit to rub on her gums even, then she'd call it a night.

This could well be the sad story of a low-life Sydney prostitute, an ice addict or speed freak. But it's not.

It is an all too typical picture of Sydney's well-heeled 20, 30 and 40-something professionals, where a weekend cocaine binge is somehow not only acceptable but something of a status symbol in this city today.

Bankers, lawyers, engineers, IT professionals, doctors ("they're the worst" apparently) all "racking up" until their nostils can take no more or until the "gear" eventually runs out.

You see, it's perfectly OK because it's cocaine. Real druggos don't use cocaine, they can't afford it. Real druggos are skanky speed and ice users. Coke is glam. It's part of the scene. Rich people, celebrities use it.

The other common attitude is that they're all proud of it.

To offer someone a line of coke is to say they've got a spare $300 to throw away on a gram for the weekend. It's a badge of honour. And you're particularly popular if you're sharing your stash.

It goes some way to explaining why Young Australian of the Year contender Iktimal Hage-Ali made no attempt to apologise for her cocaine use as she testified in the District Court this week where she is suing the NSW Government for unlawful arrest and wrongful imprisonment.

Instead, she was filled with pride over her former coke habit, telling the court she had lied to her dealer and childhood friend Bruce Fahdi so she could get drugs on credit.

"I'm not ashamed of the fact that I have used cocaine. I know I took drugs but I still did a good job." she puffed.

What? Not even a hint of a "naughty me, drugs are bad" when you are talking to a judge - and an entire courtroom full of reporters?

If we didn't already know, I'd be asking what this supposedly intelligent girl was on, that she's so keen to tell the world she was an out-and-proud cokehead. I didn't hear Hage-Ali crow about the coke addicts who lick toilet seats for leftover grains of powder, or the users who suffer brain bleeds or those who have heart attacks and die after one too many lines.

I note too that in her self-assured, independent woman spiel to the court she didn't brag about the men and women rocking back and forth with severe psychosis in the corner of the state's mental institutions.

Nor did she mention the good folk who undertake the drive-by shootings and murder innocent people which allow her - and Sydney's bulging white collar cocaine crew - their illicit supply. Given she would "happily admit" to the District Court to snorting 3g of cocaine a week, I take it Hage-Ali hasn't pondered these things. After all, it's not like its grubby heroin or ice - otherwise known as "poor man's coke". She was speaking of cocaine. The expensive stuff.

This is also presumably the attitude of Assistant Director-General Michael Talbot, Hage-Ali's former boss, who yesterday gave evidence that the Attorney-General's Department wanted her back despite the criminal charges she faced.

"There was no impediment of her returning to work," he told the court.

"I would have had her back in the role that she was partaking in at the time."

In recent weeks I've heard more than a few people talk of having a "white Christmas" this year. They will do so courtesy some of Sydney's high-end clubs which perpetuate this city's rampant cocaine use with custom-made mirrored shelves in their toilet cubicles.

They will "smash" a bag or two a night, while the likes of supermax prisoner Bassam Hamzy and his crew map out a crime spree to satisfy Sydney's never-ending demand for this evil drug.

May I ask Ms Hage-Ali, what's not to be ashamed about that?



Bwhahahahahaha. Hahahahahaha. Ho Ho Ho, hahaha. [sigh] I’m sorry about that but I couldn’t help it. This is just too funny to be true. I have read some classics before but Jesus Q. Christ, this is the best of them by far. If someone should be criticised for allowing drugs to interfere with their life, it’s Fiona Connolly. I don’t see any other explanation except she must be on magic mushrooms or LSD. Maybe it’s a script for some B-grade movie or a plot for a trash novel but what it is not, is an article worthy of being taken seriously. I feel that television and cinema have been mixed up with moral outrage with a good healthy dose of Daily Telegraph mentality.


Bankers, lawyers, engineers, IT professionals, doctors ("they're the worst" apparently) all "racking up" until their nostils can take no more or until the "gear" eventually runs out.

You may have noticed that journalists are left off her list. Apparently, Bankers, lawyers, engineers, IT professionals and doctors are the worst. Where the hell did she get this from? Maybe she popped her head into Akemans office and asked him considering he is supposedly a journalist and also an ex cokehead. And don’t you love the phrase, “cokehead”? Remember, the Daily Telegraph regularly uses derogatory terms for medical issues that involve drugs e.g. Akerman calls the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC), a shooting gallery, drug addicts are usually referred to as junkies and of course there’s speed freaks, cokeheads, potheads etc. Connolly makes out that Iktimal Hage-Ali is some proud, arrogant socialite who looks down on the lower classes especially those “speed freaks” and “ice addicts”. Using terminology like “out-and-proud cokehead” or “braggging” is taking a bit too much journalistic freedom. Connolly also writes that Iktimal Hage-Ali is selfish because she didn’t alert the court that cocaine can cause problems in Australia. It just shows how far she will go to make her point. It’s like criticising a drink driver for not telling the judge that alcohol abuse causes liver cirrhosis. Yes, way too much journalistic freedom.

Instead, she was filled with pride over her former coke habit [...] I note too that in her self-assured, independent woman spiel to the court she didn't brag about the men and women rocking back and forth with severe psychosis in the corner of the state's mental institutions.

Like all good moralists protesting about drug users, Connolly introduces extreme examples and images from popular culture to make her point. Sometimes it sounds more like a scene from a Superman movie

...supermax prisoner Bassam Hamzy and his crew map out a crime spree to satisfy Sydney's never-ending demand for this evil drug.

Or a scene from some gangster movie set in L.A.

Nor did she mention the good folk who undertake the drive-by shootings and murder innocent people which allow her - and Sydney's bulging white collar cocaine crew - their illicit supply.

Some times it’s from Jackie Collins new novel.

In recent weeks I've heard more than a few people talk of having a "white Christmas" this year. They will do so courtesy some of Sydney's high-end clubs which perpetuate this city's rampant cocaine use with custom-made mirrored shelves in their toilet cubicles.

Yep, it's funny, isn't it. If I didn't know the circumstances, I would assume it's satire. Cocaine, lots of money, drive-by shootouts, unrepentant Muslims, fancy night clubs with snorting mirrors in toilet cubicles, murder, glamorous professionals in mini skirts, wrongful imprisonment, a city in chaos and more. Iktimal Hage-Ali is guilty of using cocaine. She admitted to it which should score a few brownie points but for Connolly, this is her worst crime. It’s not Iktimal Hage-Ali’s job to be a role model or to fit in with Connolly’s criteria of acceptable behaviour. As some readers pointed out, Iktimal Hage-Ali is one of the 90% of drug users who don’t have a problem with their usage except when faced with contrived drug laws. Singling out well-to-do cocaine users as the core reason for street violence, severe psychosis and the downfall of society is disingenuous. In fact, these outcomes are rare in Australia compared to the US where harsher laws apply. It is obvious that Connolly is confused between the street violence in the US, Mexico etc., the world of movies/TV and the reality in Australia. Even the commitment of her previous boss, Assistant Director-General Michael Talbot, that the Attorney-General's Department wanted her back was seen as unacceptable. Was the whole world falling into a spiralling mess with no morals or heaven forbid, lack of family values? Think of the children! I also noticed she left out that Iktimal Hage-Ali was “sending the wrong message”. Hasn’t she read the politicians book of rhetoric? “Sending the wrong message” is clearly marked as vital to all public statements on drug use.

I didn't hear Hage-Ali crow about the coke addicts who lick toilet seats for leftover grains of powder, or the users who suffer brain bleeds or those who have heart attacks and die after one too many lines.

The fact is, most drug use is uninteresting so without moral judgement or dressing it up, it is unlikely to make for compelling reading. A good NEWS.com writer needs to follow the in-house procedures and introduce moral decay or sinister sub plots to make it into the published pages. Fiona Connolly certainly did that.


Some sample comments from The Daily Telegraph readers.
There are some mighty fine comments here. Read on.

The article makes the same mistake that ineffective government anti-drug advertising does. It goes too far in demonising the experience of taking drugs, and in the process reads as fake. Most people who use recreational drugs hold steady jobs, maintain responsibilities, and generally have a great time on the drugs which is why they keep on using them. They may be aware of the longer term issues, but like smokers and drinkers, negotiate these risks with the great feeling they get in the present. The tawdry piece of fiction that intros the piece is just that - fiction - and would represent less than 1% of the experiences of regular drug users. The journalist maintains this piece of fiction is the experience of young professionals in Sydney. Really? Where is the evidence? Who was interviewed? This is not journalism, it is moralising rubbish. 
-Posted by: Fred of Petersham of Sydney [My choice for best comment]

A quick search of Fiona Connelly in google shows some quality journalism for quality publications. You owe your living to drugs my dear, as no straight person would pay you for this drivel. -Posted by: dave Everyone uses coke, you only hear the bad stories of it. Get a life and mind your own business. Smoking and alcohol is legal and a hell of a lot worse. Stop telling people how to live their lives. 
-Posted by: Steve of Sydney 

fiona- Who made you the arbiter of public morality? If someone can use a substance and still function in thier life then who are they harming.. all of the gang violence, drivebys, and other sensationalist pap you mentioned are actually a result of prohibition of drugs, and nothing to do with the substances themselves. 
-Posted by: Johnston of Sydney 

What a sensationalist article. Look out! every where you turn, surrounded by evil drug fiends, ready to murder for their next hit!!!! You should give up writing news and turn to pulp fiction crime thrillers! Take a reality check, if that's a typical picture of your average drug user, and drug use is as rampant as you suggest then why hasn't society collapsed in a drug addled heap? Perhaps its because most people use recreational drugs responsibly, hold down jobs and have normal lives. People like getting intoxicated - on legal drugs or otherwise. It's more normal than you think. If you doubt it go to your local pub and see how many people there are drinking non-alcoholic drinks (probably not many!) 
-Posted by: Paul of Sydney 

The article mentions use of cocaine by "Bankers, lawyers, engineers, IT professionals, doctors" But no mention of journalists. Maybe that's for another article, one where you detail how a drunk person looks and then refer back to those journalists who are proud to proclaim their drinking capacity. 
-Posted by: adam of null 

Fiona - no mention of journalists on your list of coke taking scum? 
-Posted by: Mick 

Bankers, lawyers, engineers, IT professionals, doctors ... Yeah I'm sure they're into it, but you left out a few other groups that are extremely well represented, though some don't do it as publicly for obvious reasons. Add reporters, real estate agents, police officers, Labor MPs and their staffers to your list and you'd be closer to the mark. 
-Posted by: Julie A of Sydney 

Bankers, lawyers, engineers, IT professionals, doctors ("they're the worst" apparently)....I note your forgot Journailsts! 
-Posted by: Andrew of Canberra 

Plenty of people get off their faces on alcohol and make a disgrace of themselves. This is a much larger social problem than cocaine. Where are the outraged articles about that? This moral distinction between potentially harmful substances because some are legal and others not doesn't work for me. -Posted by: rucksack I'm not ashamed of the fact that I drink water, but I wouldn't say I'm proud of it either. Iktimal Hage-Ali has said she's not ashamed of using cocaine. That means she's not ashamed. And that's all it means. 
-Posted by: Sylvia Else of Forestville 

I blame the touchy feely left wing ALP government who have allowed this behavious to occur. People who are caught with any drugs should be immediately and summarily incarcerated for 30 days hard labour out in the states central west where they can brak rocks, dig holes, etc. No appeals, no phone a friend, nothing. Invite Channel 7, 9 or 10 to film them. Make a reality show out of it. Shame them so that their family and friends know what junkies they are. When they get released, how many of these so called 'professioanls' will still hold their job? Not many I presume. Garbage people like Iktimal Hage-Ali should be washed down the sewer where they belong. 'nuff said!! 
-Posted by: Stefano of Sydney 

Strip her of the award, and lock her up for a couple of nights. There's nothing like tough love! She only won the award in the first place as an appeasement to the left, so that the chardonnay crowd can pat themselves on the back and tell all those who care to hear about the success of immigration and how well they've assimilated 
-Posted by: Chappy of The Rocks 

Go to any nightclub in sydney on the weekend and you will find people like Iktimal Hage-Ali everywhere. Young succesful people just letting their hair down and its back to work as normal on monday. These people are not addicts and most of them grow out of it as they get older. They are probably doing less damage than binge drinking to the point of oblivion and starting fights and damaging property. Yes some people do become addicts but these people probably had problems before they even tried drugs. 
-Posted by: anna bella of sydney 

good on you girl for being proud of your achievements. i wonder if your parents reprimand u everynight for not wearing a burqa, taking drugs and drinking alcohol. repent, if u still want half an ounce of your ex-reputation returned. 
-Posted by: Clayton of Sydney 

You'll find that the people who have a harsh opinion of cocaine like the stories above are mostly the uneducated ones, talking about drivebys and junkies and etc. There are many high profile professionals that recreationally use - not harming anyone. Its the illiterate, niave and uneducated that are always just quick to pass judgement. Drawing parralells between gotham city and sydney i mean come on. 
-Posted by: Simon Westaway of Sydney 

High profile users - not harming anyone. Simon W comment 47 you are the muppet in serious need of an education. Tell that to the thousands that end up on the wrong end of a gun because they're in the way of the drug cartel supplying you with your "recreational hobby". 
-Posted by: Jako of Sydney

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fiona takes a swing at Iktimal's court spiel for the non mention of people who have suffered greatly and even died as a result of drug use, but her failure to write about drug users in a half decent and compassionate manner (low-life Sydney prostitutes, men and women rocking back and forth with severe psychosis in the corner of the state's mental institutions) gives away her desperate grab for attention. Tool.

Nice Person said...

Good on you Iktimal for not succumbing to popular pressure by playing a helpless drug user. You don't have to worry about crappy reporters like Fiona Connolly because most of us can see through her charade.

Good luck with your trial.

Bron said...

Hi Terry!

Another thing this Fiona seems to forget is that Hage-Ali is not responsible for other drug users, so why does she have an obligation to condemn them? Sheesh.

On a snarkier level, Fiona's writing is full of hyperbole and ridiculous prose. Ugh.