Discussion of article from the Mail's columnists and RightMinds contributors
:sunglasses: 50 % :grinning: 50 %
By potsy70
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#12495
Hitchens has a blog now. He's a person whose views I detest. However, to be fair to him, he does answer his critics in a constructive way on his blog. So I've sent a comment, waiitng for a reply.
Peter,

Re: the issue of drugs. Having been an abuser of hard drugs for a period, I recognise all too well your description of the unearned feeling of satisfaction and the anaesthetic effct when it comes to whatever ails you. I had acheived many ambitions in my career and was very successful, but had neglected my personal life and was in fact deeply unhappy. I'm off the drugs because I sat down one day and worked out why I was unhappy and resolved to put it right. I continue to work on this and hope that I never need a drug to artifically raise my mood again. If prohibition worked, I'd be in favour. I don't believe it ever will. There will always be a market and therefore always a motive for smugglers and dealers to find ways to keep one step ahead. Some of the most recent research in this field concluded that drug classification has little correlation with harm, and listed various drugs in order of danger. Alcohol and tobacco were included as benchmarks. The vast majority of currently illegal drugs fell below alcohol in terms of potential harm. If society accepts alcohol, the most rational and evidence-based approach must now be to accept all other less dangerous drugs. Regulate them, sell them, stick government health warnings on them, tax them and destroy the illegal markets. Why not?
You state, quite correctly, that drug use is selfish. So it is. But don't individuals have the right to choose to take risks with their health? Don't we all do this everyday in many other ways? Isn't any other approach simply a symptom of the nanny state? Not forgetting that there is a difference between 'use' and 'abuse' of any drug.
By Rob
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#12568
i also support this idea, drug prohivition now is working about as well as
alcohol prohibition worked in 1920's america. same problem - the market
gets driven underground, resulting in a huge source of profit for the bad
guys and lots of innocent people getting killed in drug-wars. its a
massive waste of money. alcohol and tabacco kill more people each year
than any other drug, they're the most lethal, fucking pointless drugs
ever. but they remain legal because they are multi-billion pound
industries and it remains our freedom to get shitfaced and rightly so.

as an individual in a free nation, it should be ones right to control what
goes into your body. if they were legalised, regulated and came with
health warnings and subject to the same kind of rigorous laws as alcohol
(ie don't drive whilst high etc) i cant see a problem

- we'd have less victimeless criminals clogging up our jails
- the police, law courts and detectives would have more time and money to
go after real crime.
- we'd take away a huge source of income for all kinds of organised crime
worldwide.
- the medical properties of drugs like cannabis could be used to help ease
some pain to those sufering from disease
- if we regulated the dosage and quality of the drug less people would get
sick from overdoses or contamination.
- we could seriously reduce the spread of HIV and hepititis, spread by infected needles
By Phil
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#12581
Rob wrote:alcohol and tabacco kill more people each year
than any other drug, they're the most lethal, fucking pointless drugs
ever. but they remain legal because they are multi-billion pound
industries and it remains our freedom to get shitfaced and rightly so.
Tobacco is pointless, but has historical significance, and affects people in such a minor way that until the addiction and health scares started up was simply a way of life. The use of tobacco as a ritual has been actively targeted since the 80's and its cultural significance more and more diminished. One day I'm sure it will be illegal.

Alcohol has been consumed all throughout history and has a much more obvious, toxicating effect, and also has medicinal properties. In reasonable quantities alcohol is a very social, benign drug. An awful lot of money and effort is put into persuading people, especially young people, to use alcohol in moderation. Once certain lines are crossed alcohol consumption quickly moves into illegality.

Cannabis is a mind-altering drug that affects ability and performance in a much less obvious way than alcohol, and reaches its optimum potency with much smaller volumes than alcohol. It's very difficult to have "just a little bit" of cannabis. It has a very profound psychosomatic effect on a lot of people, and it can change your perception of people and the world about you. Cannabis can turn violent people to violence just as much as alcohol can.

I still believe cannabis should be legalised, but only in the way that alcohol is, and that consuming it in public should be frowned upon, much the same way alcohol should be. Government policy tends to be that decriminalising it is easier and cheaper than outright legalising it, and there are nowhere near as many "victimless criminals clogging up our jails" who haven't had a history of committing other crimes as you think.
By potsy70
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#12901
Hitchens's Response:-
Drugs and drink are not the same thing

No, a few glasses of Chardonnay (ugh) are not the same thing as heroin, cocaine or cannabis, and nobody said they were, or suggested that drinking wine would or could lead to the fake exaltation produced by some narcotics. Pay attention, you at the back.

One of the cleverest propaganda tricks of the drugs lobby has been to confuse legal alcohol and illegal drugs. As it happens, if I thought alcohol could now be banned, I'd be in favour of banning it. Since I saw a kind, talented, witty and honest colleague carried, screaming and with his trousers soaked in his own urine, from my first newspaper office, thanks to alcohol, I have not had much time for those who imagine it is harmless. I've seen plenty of other evidence, in the years since, that it can and does do terrible things to people and families. If I thought his downfall, and that of many others, could be prevented by a legal ban, then I would give up my daily half bottle of wine and count it well lost.

Regrettably, it's too late. Alcohol is part of our culture and I doubt if even Sharia law could stamp it out (actually, Sharia law has failed to stamp it out in Pakistan, where the elite drink like anything). Quite why its existence should be advanced as an argument for legalising other dangerous poisons, I really cannot see. And despite the claims of the druggies, most people in this country haven't taken drugs, and it is not as common as they say. Illegal drugs can - unlike alcohol - still be stopped.

The point, by the way, of fierce laws against drug possession is to give pliable and weak people a good argument to refuse to buy or take drugs.

Nor did I say that drug-taking was wrong and harmful solely because it hurt the individual, though it does. I stipulated the terrible harm that it could do to the drug-taker's family and neighbours, friends and colleagues, and by implication to the society in which he lives. One correspondent cites J.S. Mill's 'On Liberty' as an argument for drug taking. I do not think Mill would agree. Norman Dennis (a proper socialist), of the Institute for the Study of Civil Society, retorted (In the 'Salisbury Review’) to the 'libertarian' pro-drug arguments of Frances Cairncross as follows:

"The sovereignty of the individual is not Mill's only principle. He says just as firmly that 'whenever there is a definite damage or a definite risk of damage, either to [another] individual or to the public, the case is taken out of the province of liberty and placed in that of morality or law"

Dennis accepts that Mill excluded alcohol from this when he wrote, but adds that the application of his principles depends on the circumstances of the time. "He was specifically concerned with an increasingly powerful Victorian public opinion, demanding and securing more and more elevated and rigid moral controls from the community and the state".

In an age when the leader of the Tory party does not deny that he is a former cannabis smoker, that is hardly our position, and, as Dennis argues "Oppressive morality scarcely exists and British teenagers are now the heaviest drinkers, smokers and drug-takers in Europe. The most effective argument today for freedom to take drugs is that it is impossible for either public opinion or the police to do anything to diminish drug-taking, and that therefore the legal and moral towel should be thrown in, in defeat and despair. That is the complete opposite to Mill's argument for liberty in 1859."

He also quotes Mill's more apposite warning, that civilisation can become "so degenerate that neither its appointed priests or teachers, nor anybody else, has the capacity or the will to take the trouble to stand up for it."

I hope this provides a partial answer to those who claim they cannot understand how I can be against identity cards and in favour of punishing possession of cannabis. Drug abuse destroys clear understanding, reasoned debate, self-discipline, responsibility and therefore morality. Where morality is weak, the state must be strong, intrusive and oppressive to keep order.

Where the use of narcotics becomes common, society has to resort to increasingly repressive measures to function at all. Mandatory daily drug tests for bus drivers, and surgeons, anyone? Because that's the sort of thing that will follow soon after drugs become as prevalent as alcohol. Drug abuse also dulls reasonable discontent with the wrongs of society, and makes people easier to oppress and enslave. It's a way of avoiding the responsibility we all have, to compare what exists with what could be, and doing what we can to make things better. It is the enemy of liberty, just as it is the enemy of reason and conscience. Oppose it.

I'm formulating my reply.
By jonboy
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#12914
Credit where credit is due- he has at least addressed the comments, and given his view point, at times justifying his stance.

Voltaire is attributed to having said "I disagree with what you have to say but will fight to the death to protect your right to say it."

I have more respect for hitchens than littlecock.
By PeteNattress
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#12919
Drugs and drink are not the same thing
Haha. Reminds me of Brass Eye.

[Standard derisive Morris tone]: "Some people say alcohol's a drug. That's rubbish. It's a drink."

I disagree with Hitchens' argument primarily because of this first point. To say alcohol is not a drug flies in the face of facts, logic and commonly accepted definitions of the word 'drug'. He can form a rational argument, sure, but one based on fallacies nonetheless.
By Citizen Cain
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#12922
jonboy wrote:Credit where credit is due- he has at least addressed the comments, and given his view point, at times justifying his stance.

Voltaire is attributed to having said "I disagree with what you have to say but will fight to the death to protect your right to say it."

I have more respect for hitchens than littlecock.
True, he may hold some totally reprehensible and damaging views, but he doesn't pretend he's doing anything else either. And, as you said, he explains why as well.

Wasn't there some kerfuffle with a fake Pete Hitchens posting over at Guido's blog? Or was it the real one? I tend to avoid Tory-boi's site unless I can help it, so I never followed up on what was happening.
By Billy
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#12960
Citizen Cain wrote:
Wasn't there some kerfuffle with a fake Pete Hitchens posting over at Guido's blog? Or was it the real one? I tend to avoid Tory-boi's site unless I can help it, so I never followed up on what was happening.
http://peterhitchens.blogspot.com/

This is the fake one - "The Hitch", he does sound like a slightly more deranged version of the "real" Hitchens.
By horacegoesskiing
Membership Days Membership Days Posts
#13018
After P Hitchens' whining blame-everything-on-Blair articles in the Mail I couldn't stand him. But having seen the effort he puts in to replying to one comment, I now have a grudging respect for him. Unlike most commentators, he's prepared to speak his mind and take the time to do so. Better than Littlejohn or Heffer.
By Antigherkin
Membership Days Membership Days Posts
#13033
Woodsie wrote:
...At the next election, we can if we wish continue to pretend that the issue is a meaningless alteration between two leftist, high-tax, pro-EU, anti-family, pro-crime parties...
Oh please someone photoshop Blair and Cameron into cheesy supervillain personas.
Go on then, I've got time to kill.

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Last edited by Antigherkin on Fri Feb 23, 2007 10:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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