2008, like every year has been full of surprises. In the ever evolving world of drug policy and treatment though, there does remain one constant ... a continuous parade of murky politicians, selfish moralists and dubious opinion writers who share a common goal to demonise drug users at any cost. Any attempt to be sensible and pragmatic about drug use or drug treatment is abhorred by these people and they will go to great lengths to undermine these efforts. In the process, logic and reality is counteracted with carefully constructed propaganda, junk science and claims of moral decay. The problem is that the truth is not on their side and cracks will appear which may expose some farcical and often humorous attempts to appear legitimate. These are serious issues and the anti-drug zealots cause much pain, suffering and death but the sheer absurdities of their actions need to be highlighted. What better way to recognise their actions than to nominate them for an award. So without further ado, let me introduce to you, the first annual edition of The Australian Heroin Diaries - Bucket Head of the Year Awards.
NOTE: These awards are from an Australian perspective and are based on issues involving drug policy and drug treatment. Many nominees are probably guilty of various other deeds but these awards are for drug related issues. I assume I have left out many candidates and events so feel free to add your nominations. These are my personal opinions and if I have upset anyone, I am sorry. If you don't want to be involved in these awards ... don't give me a reason to nominate you.
Worst Strategy from a Country in 2008
Russia: The refusal to introduce methadone maintenance treatment
•Scotland: The proposal to abandon methadone treatment and introduce abstinence only programs.
•US: The continuing "War on Drugs" e.g. overriding state laws on medical marijuana, lack of Harm Minimisation programs etc.
•UK: Reclassification of cannabis to a class B drug
Worst International Anti-Drug Organisation in 2008
International: Supporting United Nations Drug Initiatives And Legislation (SUNDIAL)
•International: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime / UNDCP / CCPCJ / INCB
•US: Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
•US: Mothers Against Medical Abuse (MAMA) / Helping America Reduce Methadone Deaths (HARMD)
Worst Australian Anti-Drug Organisation in 2008
Drug Free Australia (DFA)
•Drug Advisory Council of Australia Inc. (DACA)
•National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC)
•Christian Democratic Party
Silliest Comment in 2008
The war on drugs in Australia is working. The Bali Nine are just part of the price
-Miranda Devine. Sydney Morning Herald
•Illegal drugs and not alcohol are to blame for the anti-social behaviour in Tasmania
-The Australian Hotels Association
•This (brochure) clearly is a message that it is okay to take drugs. For the Health Department to be promoting illegal drug taking to students is offensive and a gross misuse of public money
-Jillian Skinner. NSW Opposition health spokeswoman speaking about the “Choosing to Use” booklet
•Given that the US is making better headway than Australia, in both binge drinking and illicit drug use among its young people, we should be looking more closely at what is working there
-Jo Baxter. Executive Officer - Drug Free Australia
Most Overused Phrase in 2008
Sends the wrong message
•Cannabis today is not like what it was in the 60s
•Tough on Drugs
Biggest Deception in 2008
Exaggerated harms from cannabis use especially increased potency and links to psychosis
•Exaggerated harms of ecstasy use
•The continuing claim that the Howard Government’s “tough on drugs” strategy with the Australian Federal Police stopped the “heroin epidemic”.
•The Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre is a failure
Biggest Deception from a Person or Group in 2008
Drug Free Australia: Claiming a Zero Tolerance policy is a viable alternative to Harm Minimisation
•Piers Akerman: Claim that the Kings Cross MSIC is a failure
•Anne Bressington: Claiming that she had much support for compulsory drug testing of students but was actually criticised by many groups who it affected.
•Miranda Devine: Cannabis use is a bigger health issue than alcohol abuse
Worst News.com Comment in 2008
Yet a terrible thought crossed my mind going through this topic. Some of the worst addicted at worst might kill their children in the belief they will get more for their addictions, or at the least will blame the kids for their reduced ability to obtain drugs and alcohol and foist even more and terrible abuse on them.
Posted by: Adrian of Nowra
Topic: Quarantine welfare payments for people convicted of drug offences via a welfare debit card.
•Wow. Only if this outcome could happen to all drug users! It certainly would "clean up" the world. Perhaps other druggies can learn from this lesson and just say no to drugs. Life is tough on everyone but that doesn't mean resorting to drugs to cope. Druggies and pushers are filthy animals.
Posted by: Steve
Topic: A prostitute who died after injecting cocaine. The two men with her, one who supplied the cocaine, panicked about getting caught with the drugs and didn't ring an ambulance.
•Not sad, Schapelle! What is sad, is that when you were found guilty, the judge couldnt sentence you to death! Unfortunately, you were not busted in China, where your despicable family would have been sent the invoice for the bullet used in your execution! No Santa for this scumbag criminal!
-Posted by: Kim of Do The Time
Topic: Schapelle Corby to miss out on Christmas sentence reduction
•...The Bali Nine took a calculated risk. They took that risk with full knowledge of the potential outcome. If the result is being sat, blindfolded, with a 6 inch square of white cloth pinned over your heart, listening to the metallic clack of rounds being chambered, and enduring the agonizing last seconds of your life as you wait for the shots to come, then that’s just too damn bad. And these people will hear the shots and will be conscious as their lives flow out of them in those last seconds. That’s no bad thing either.
-Posted by: Pete Christie of Paddington
Topic: The Bali Nine
Funniest News.com Comment in 2008
I'd like to say to those people spending huge amounts of money each year on drugs, why don't you have a think about those people suffering in the world who can't afford food, medication or a place to sleep. Compare that to the chemicals, physical and mental harm and burden on society drugs create and see which on is more deserving....
Posted by: Maree from Brisbane
Topic: GBH overdoses at the X-Qlusive dance party in Melbourne
•The 9 are HUMAN garbage,parasites,bullies+PUS. tHE kind of weak thugs who laugh at people smaller,or alone,in Maccas! Put them on the express elevator to hell! Corby may have been innocent+ was not into the ppoison of herion.Keep some BALANCE.
Posted by: scullcracka
Topic: The Bali Nine
•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
Topic: The ridiculously overdone article by Fiona Connelly regarding Young Australian of the Year contender and Muslim, Iktimal Hage-Ali who was caught with cocaine. The article goes on to dramatise rampant cocaine use amongst Sydney professionals. [Link]
•This story reminds me of vegetarians, they are vegetarian because they don't want to eat animals but if they were just 2 inches tall the animals would have no problem eating the vegetarians.... My point is that the bali 9 are in a bad situation however if it was somebody else they would probably be laughing and wouldn't have a care in the world as they would be out on the streets dealing drugs and robbing people or beating people up however we are in no place to judge them for good or bad, just let the legal system do its thing and get on with your lives.
Posted by: Adam of Melbourne
Topic: The Bali Nine
Worst Suggestion from a Political Party in 2008
WA Liberal Party: Repealing cannabis laws in WA for possession
•Liberal Party: Revisiting The Bishop Report: “The Winnable War on Drugs”
•SA Independent Anne Bressington: Compulsory drug testing for students in SA
•Labor Party: Welfare payment quarantining for drug users
Worst Decision from a Political Party in 2008
SA Government: Banning drug paraphernalia in SA
•NSW Labor Party: Health Minister Reba Meagher over reacting to the “Choosing to Use” booklet by pulping all copies
•Labor Party: Welfare payment regulation
•SA Labor Party: Veterans' Affairs Minister, Michael Atkinson rejecting a trial of MDMA for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Major Political Party with the Worst Drug Policy in 2008
Christian Democratic Party
•The Liberal Party
•The National Party
Worst Anti-Drug Article from the Mainstream Media in 2008
•Fiona Connolly: Cokehead should be ashamed [Link]
•News.com editorial: Drug book totally stupefying [Link]
•Piers Akerman: No quick fix for shooting gallery [Link]
Junk Science Claim from 2008
Cannabis shrinking the brain being proof of it’s danger
•Drug decriminalisation increases the drug problem
•The Sydney MSIC is not saving lives
•Needle exchange programs do not stop the spread of blood-borne diseases
Most Biased Anti-Drug Journalist in 2008
•News.com editorial team
Most Dubious Politician in 2008
Malcolm Turnbull: Leader of the Opposition
Whilst Malcolm Turnbull is urging people to quit smoking, the Libs continue to accept donations from tobacco companies. The coalition is the only political party to still accept tobacco industry donations since Mark Latham ended it for Labor in 2004. Turnbull also denounced cannabis as extremely dangerous after he succumbed to the current popular trend of admitting to cannabis use whilst at university. This dubious trend is just an extension of the Clintoneque, “I didn’t inhale” strategy that increased his popularity whilst not condoning drug use. It seems the public like the truthfulness which lead to a spate of Australian pollies admitting their prior use but condemning it for everyone else.
•Senator Mathias Cormann: Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health Administration
Out of nowhere came a media release slamming the government for abandoning the “the critically important war on drugs”. Corman fumbled about with cliché after cliché including this cracker, “Our children don’t need lessons on how to use harmful and illicit drugs. They need to get the clear message that drugs are bad”. To top it off, he asked why the government have ignored the The Bishop Report: “The Winnable War on Drugs”. You have to wonder why we know the answer yet he doesn’t.
•Kevin Rudd: Prime Minister
The lack of drug policies from the government has grown from a curiosity to a major concern. Throwing around the occasional “we are tough on drugs” claim seems to be the only current Labor strategy. Welfare payment quarantining for drug users was bandied about and even the eradication of opium crops in Afghanistan was once high on the agenda. We are still waiting for something sensible and helpful to be put into practice but for now, we are stuck with the continuation of Howard’s Zero Tolerance rhetoric.
•Anne Bressington: Independent Member of the SA Legislative Council
As a well known anti-drug zealot, Bressington continues to her attempts to introduce her Zero Tolerance ideology to South Australia. Against all the evidence and with detrimental consequences to drug users, she steam rolls ahead utilising the tactics and propaganda of other well known moral crusaders.
Most Farcical Religious Anti-Drug Campaigner in 2008
Bill Mullenburg: Culture Watch Blog
•Gary Christian: Drug Free Australia
•Fred Nile: Christian Democratic Party
•Carly Crutchfield: Scientology
Anti-Drug Propagandist - Rising Star Award for 2008
Darren Marton: Founder of The No-Way Campaign
•Ryan Hidden: Director of the Recovered Drug Users’ League of SA
•Dr. Jan Copeland: National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC)
•Jade Lewis: Founder of Jade Lewis and Friends
Most Dangerous Anti-Drug Campaigner Internationally for 2008
Antonio Maria Costa(International): Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
•John Walters(US): Director of National Drug Control Policy/Drug Czar
•Calvina Fay(US): Drug Free America Foundation
•Torgny Peterson(Sweden): International Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy and the Global Institute on Drug Policy.
Most Dangerous Anti-Drug Campaigner in Australian for 2008
•Dr. Stuart Reece
Low Point in 2008
Continuing assault on Harm Minimisation
•Gary Christian from Drug Free Australia hijacking the "Beyond 2008" International NGO Forum [Link]
•Kevin Rudd’s insistence on eradicating Afghanistan's opium fields at a NATO meeting which annoyed NATO leaders as just another US influenced non workable strategy [Link]
•S.A. Veterans' Affairs Minister, Michael Atkinson rejecting a trial of MDMA for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and insulting Democrat Sandra Kanck for suggesting it [Link]
The Bucket Head of the Year - 2008
The ultimate anti-drug zealot who made a huge impact on the downfall of humanity and sensibility in 2008
Independent Member of the SA Legislative Council
•Miranda Devine - Journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald
•Harry Clarke - Economist / Blogger / Right Wing Commentator
•Margaret Court - Patron of Drug Free Australia / TV Evangelist / Faith Healer / Radical Pastor
Well, what can I say, except ... congratulations. For Anne, 2008 was another year of fanciful claims, dangerous laws and continuing attacks on Sandra Kanck.
The list of achievements in 2008 that won Anne Bressington the prestigious Bucket Head of the Year award:
-banned drug paraphernalia in SA including items classed as culturally important and devices made to reduce harm for users including protection from HIV/AIDS
-kept up her push for compulsory drug testing in schools although it was condemned by many of those she claimed as supporters
-called on police to use sniffer dogs and drug testing at schoolies
-kept up a constant barrage of attacks and parliament interruptions on anyone who opposed her views especially SA Democrat, Sandra Kanck
-repeatedly introduced biased and non scientific “evidence’ into parliament to support her dubious claims
And for the history books, she claimed the term 'war on drugs' was coined by the legalisation movement to get people on their side.
Runners up include the obvious selection of Miranda Devine who narrowly missed out on the first position. Miranda has had a cracker of a year with her many anti-drug articles receiving a lot of attention. Unfortunately, it was mostly unwanted attention as she was ripped apart with criticisms of her highly dubious research. Probably her biggest mistake was taking on Dr. Alex Wodak who excels at disproving prohibitionist ideology which she blindly subscribes to. I doubt if any of this really matters to Miranda and she will happily continue on with her myopic anti-drug rants.
Though he has a smaller public profile, Harry Clarke is well known by many who take a keen interest in drug law reform. Unfortunately for him, he is not well known by those who agree with him but those who oppose him. He is such a arrogant, nasty shit who wants to sit above his opposition (being a professor and all) but just can’t seem to get the logic right to help his cause. This usually leads to insults on the drug using, non business like, pinko, leso, lefties aka health and welfare workers, who all want drugs sold to kids at 7-11. As an economist on the public purse, his use of rubbery logic to reach an anti-drug conclusion and his inappropriate comments to those on the front line of treatment should ring some warning bells. He sure makes an excellent case for why we can’t trust anti-drug zealots and his blog entries, media articles and contributions to the ANCD email forum show how far they will go to prove their point.
Last of all but certainly not least comes TV evangelist, Margaret Court. As the patron of Drug Free Australia(DFA) she highlights why DFA has no credibility ... she is a faith healer for god’s sake! She miraculously cures people with cancer, AIDS, tennis elbow and anything else that can’t be proven scientifically during her performance. Then she asks for money. Is DFA really an organisation that we, the tax payer should be funding?