Thursday, February 6, 2014

Obamaddiction: Defining Criminality Down

by Melanie Phillips

The war on drugs may or may not be being lost (see Nick Clegg’s predictable call for a ‘rethink’ today – in Colombia, of all places!) but the war on the war on drugs is being won.

In the wake of the death of the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, the media pack has decided that the story is that no-one cares any more about drug-taking.  Apparently cannabis, heroin, cocaine and other narcotics are just… well, facts of life now to which we all have to adjust.

The corollary is that no-one cares very much about how Philip Seymour Hoffman’s talented life was extinguished at the age of 46.  People are shocked; they mourn the untimely passing of a fine actor; former addicts speak matter-of-factly about the impossibility of ever being ‘cured’ of addiction. That’s just how it is, it would appear, and we all have to accept it.

No-one seems to be repelled by the sordid and degrading way this actor died, with a needle still sticking out of his arm and surrounded by bags of a substance presumed to be heroin. We are told that people are sad about this, but not angry. It is not clear whether we are being told we should be angry that no-one is angry. 

‘Tragic’ is the word on everyone’s lips, as if Philip Seymour Hoffman was the helpless victim of a terrible accident. Victim he was, but of no accident. He was the victim of a culture which is defining criminality down and relabelling it as a personal tragedy.

A culture which, as a result of this amoral and sentimentalised indifference, is awash with drugs whose use is being regarded more and more as normal; it is the law against them that is said to be abnormal and wrong. It is now not the drugs which have to be got rid of, apparently, but the law.

And Obama’s America is doing just that. Not only have Colorado and Washington State legalised the recreational use of cannabis, and thus been allowed to ride the proverbial coach and horses through federal anti-drug laws.

America’s principal law officer, Attorney-General Eric Holder, also announced recently that banking services would soon be open to state-sanctioned marijuana  businesses – even though cannabis remains an illegal drug under federal law. According to Holder:

‘…the fledgling recreational pot markets in Colorado and Washington state have sent a new wave of cannabis proprietors clamoring to obtain loans and make deposits in banks and credit unions’.

 ‘Cannabis proprietors’, eh. We used to call them drug-dealers and criminals, to be prosecuted in the interests of public safety.  And according to Holder, there is indeed a
 ‘public safety component to this’.

Might that component be the irreparable damage cannabis does to the brain; the connection between cannabis and psychosis, impaired motor function, depression, demotivation and aggression; or the fact that countless more young people will now be addicted to cannabis by these states’ criminally irresponsible legalisation policies, not to mention all the other drugs to which cannabis is the proven gateway?

No. For Holder, the threat to public safety comes instead from the lack of credit for marijuana businesses!

‘Huge amounts of cash – substantial amounts of cash just kind of lying around with no place for it to be appropriately deposited – is something that would worry me just from a law enforcement perspective.’

So now the American banking system is to be turned into a giant corporate drug-dealer, enslaving countless more young Americans to drugs, destroying thousands more lives and wreaking havoc upon the social order.

But hey – President Obama himself has said ‘it is important’ that such legalisation experiments ‘go forward’ – because smoking pot, which he did as a kid, is no more than
‘a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.’

Rub your eyes: an American President, the nation’s ultimate role model, using his uniquely powerful position of influence to talk down the dangers of drug-taking – displaying a level of ignorance only exceeded by his irresponsibility – and talking up therefore the likely incidence of addiction, mental degeneration and death from narcotic abuse.

After Obamacare, Obamaddiction. It’s a tragedy all right – but on a rather larger and more devastating scale than one dead actor.

Melanie Phillips


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