Posts Tagged ‘Media’

Overlooked in the News: So Far This Summer…

As the Daily Transmission is on a summer hiatus, here are a few not-to-be-missed headlines that should keep those juices flowing:

‘Why do we so willfully cover up the failure of the war on drugs?’ asks Angus Macqueen in The Guardian. Macqueen has just completed a documentary series for Channel 4 called ‘Our Drugs War’ which is a well-needed examination of the global ‘War on Drugs’. (Save for another time a discussion of what exactly constitutes a ‘drug’ in the first place… possibly the ‘War on Drugs’ belongs in the same failed category as the ‘War on Terror’?)

For further evidence of failed drug policy look no further than ‘Mephedrone found not guilty, but the next legal high may be a killer’ from former Lib Dem MP Evan Harris. We’re on a road to nowhere, attempting to ban each new pharmaceutical ‘high’ that comes out of a lab. It seems the recipe that got MDMA banned still works: Take tabloid headlines, scare stories and incomplete research, mix in some panicked political bravado, season with a bit of ignorance, and bam! You got yourself a mephedrone ban.

And for a shining example of where rational thought ends and politics begins, Sky News reports on why legalizing prostitution works (in Australia) – but ends telling us why prostitution laws in England are not likely to be changed any time soon:

There are not many votes to be won by decriminalisation and, potentially, many votes to be lost if it sparked a moral crusade by opponents of reform.

But that’s why we elect politicians, isn’t it? So they can get in power and ignore what they think is right in order to ensure getting re-elected?


Overlooked In the News: January Round-Up

♥  Let’s start with a story of trivial magnitude that I still found fairly unbelievable: ‘Oshkosh Police Arrest Las Vegas Woman For Prostitution After Viewing Posts For Services On Websites’. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been living in the UK too long. But the idea of government money spent on an ‘undercover operation’ to arrest a single independent woman advertising sexual services on the internet seems unreal to me. No excuse of stopping trafficking, coercion, soliciting – just good old-fashioned moralizing on the exchange of cold hard cash (versus presents and dinner?) for sex. She was only living in Oshkosh, Wisconsin temporarily – a pretty harsh wake-up call to the fact that our Dorothy wasn’t in Las Vegas anymore!

I have no idea how common these kind of police operations are, tracking working girls on the internet. If you have any further info, please feel free to post in the comments below.

♥  On to some discrimination on a much larger scale. Queerty has been bringing CBS’s ridiculous hypocrisy to the public eye with regards to it’s Superbowl ad choices.

First we hear that ‘The Super Bowl Welcomes $2.8 Million Ad Buy From Hate Group “Focus on the Family”‘. Which is fair enough, until you remember CBS’s own policy that does not allow any ad that “touches on and/or takes a position on one side of a current controversial issue of public importance”. This quote is from a letter to the United Church of Christ, whose ad campaign of inclusiveness (“Jesus Didn’t Turn People Away. Neither Do We.”) was rejected for broadcast in 2004. So much for CBS’s ‘long-standing policy of not accepting advocacy advertising.’ No one’s seen the Focus on the Family ad spot yet, but from what the group has said publicly, it is going to be very clearly pro-life.

Just to emphasize the political nature of these decisions, Queerty has posted two ads rejected from this year’s Superbowl: ‘CBS Won’t Let Super Bowl Viewers See GoDaddy’s Gay-ish Ad Or a Gay Dating Site’s Spot. 30 Seconds of Abortion Still OK’. Although some might argue the content itself was not up to snuff – I demand you watch your average American TV spot before you make that judgement.

♥  Next, to the BBC reporting on how ‘Sanitary pads help Ghana girls go to school’. “Schoolgirl absenteeism in Ghana could be cut by half by providing free sanitary towels, a study has shown.” So easy to take things like that for granted in life. Somehow I think this is the kind of study that only gets done when it’s women on the research team!

♥  The NY Times had an interesting article called ‘Many Successful Gay Marriages Share an Open Secret’ on the number of gay partnerships that are open sexually, and how they negotiate that understanding. I find it fascinating not just in itself, but as a model for straight couples as well. There needs to be a certain amount of trust, lack of jealousy, etc. – but these are things that often make relationships stronger. Some studies show that open gay relationships last longer than closed ones. As Joe Quirk, author of the relationship book “It’s Not You, it’s Biology”, put it: “If innovation in marriage is going to occur, it will be spearheaded by homosexual marriages.” Here, here!

♥  On a final, lighter note, click here to read how ‘Student Peter Backus uses alien maths to explain why single men can’t find a girlfriend.’ Apparently the probability of finding love in the UK is only about 100 times better than the probability of finding intelligent life in our galaxy! Somehow I bet those chances are much improved by spending less time in front of a calculator.


Ignorance Kills: Why Screenwriters Should Get Their Drug Doses Right

With so much going on in the world, and so many sources of news and entertainment, it’s increasingly difficult to get any clear picture of our society as a whole.  So it’s a rare coincidence when one notices side by side events that seem to coherently point in the same direction.

Lazing away on a Sunday evening, I caught a catch-up episode of E4’s “Skins”.  Not something I do very often, mind.  There are many things you come to expect from a show if it’s genre – shocking and scandalous teenage behavior being a key component.  But the portrayal of drug use on the second episode of Season 3 I found particularly worrying

No, I’m not worried about kids thinking drugs are cool, or emulating their favorite characters, or even that they might start to think that there are ‘normal’ people who do drugs for fun without being affected in the rest of their lives.  What I’m talking about is showing kids emptying entire baggies of a dodgy white powder mix of amphetamines and opiates into their mouths, twice in the same episode.  And then not seeing either of them so much as be sick.

In a prohibitionist society, teenagers have limited access to open information about illicit substances.  You ‘learn’ how drugs are done mostly through television and movies.  I only understood how heroin was taken, for example, after watching Heath Ledger in “Candy”.  You don’t exactly get how-to instruction videos from your local dealer.

This is why, if nothing else, drug use shown on television cannot afford to be wildly imaginative.  I cannot think that there is a single illegal drug whose effects in that kind of quantity wouldn’t be highly dangerous and possibly fatal – never mind hugely noticeable.  Yet the kids are only mad at the first girl who empties the baggie because now there’s none left for them.  They laugh and call her stupid for not knowing she’s meant to snort it.  (Oh, did I mention this is the girls first time taking drugs, to top it all off?)

Then the more ‘hardcore’ Cook does the same thing later on – only to immediately then jump on stage and sing a song about the girl he wants to shag that evening.  I imagine the only sounds coming from anyone who took even half that much would be slightly less musical retching, echoing around the bathroom walls.

But back to where fantasy meets reality.  Scanning through the headlines this morning, I see “Girl died after taking ecstasy at ‘take a load of drugs’ festival”.  After reading the article, one learns that the ecstasy she took was fatal – because she took three times the amount needed to cause “toxic effects.”

Could it be more clear?  Deaths from a drug like ecstasy are limited to those who become exceedingly dehydrated or those with certain extreme and rare conditions or overdosed.  Total deaths blamed on ecstasy are limited to around 20 a year.

But here, a twenty year-old girl attending a music festival dies from an overdose.  Once again we’ll hear tut-tuts here and there about drug-taking youths.  We’ll make our drug laws stricter, our security tighter, our parental figures less likely to be the sort kids can sit down with and ask open questions about drug use.  Their only ideas about recreational drug-taking will come from what they see on TV.

I think we all know by now that no matter how hard we try to stop them, teenagers will still experiment with drugs – because thats what kids do.

And as we see time and time again, ignorance kills.

When will we learn that prohibition doesn’t work – and that the best and only way we really have to deal with these issues is to supply open and truthful (not vague, sensationalist and or fear-mongering) information so that people are able to make educated decisions?


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Posted: November 1st, 2009
Categories: Drugs
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