PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON

For years, I firmly believed that the song “Puff the Magic Dragon” was based on a nursery rhyme inspired by the likes of J.R. Tolkien or Andy Pandy, but this is far from settled.  There are those who believe that the song is all about drugs, the more so as it was recorded in 1963, just when flower power was beginning to take root.  Let’s face it, if you weren’t shooting or snorting or puffing on something to transport you in a haze to Honahlee, you weren’t living, just taking up space (or so I am told).

I remember the 60’s, I wasn’t in Chicago during the Democratic convention in 1968 but I was just over the border at McGill with many young Americans ready to lend a hand to those chanting “Hell No, we won’t go” in response to conscription and the Vietnam war.

And then there was Woodstock, three days of love and peace and shooting and snorting and puffing and hard rock and roll.  It was 1969, the age of innocence before Richard Nixon came along and spoiled it all.

Drugs have been with us since the dawn of time, and many have been developed for the good of pharmaceutical companies and made available to mankind so long as you can afford them.  But for as long as I can remember, there remain a class of drugs which in this country at least, are prohibited, because the government, advised by little grey men in white coats, have determined that on balance, they are harmful.

But these broad classifications, ‘A’ , ‘B’ and ‘C’, should not be set in stone, as more and more research suggests that some of these drugs have medicinal properties that could, and should be, explored.

Two surprising omissions from classified drugs are cigarettes and alcohol, but as they bring in billions in taxation, the government is fearful of interfering with the status quo.  But the income from sales of these drugs is offset in large measure by serious and fatal diseases, not to mention the cost of treating and caring for these many addicts.

But governments allow themselves the luxury of dual standards, so the classifications remain.

Every now and then, along comes yet another study about classified drugs which shows that some have significant benefits and should therefore be declassified.  The fact that in the past, prohibited drugs, especially Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, otherwise known as LSD, were popularised by so-called experts who bore an uncanny resemblance to Doctor Strangelove, meant that their benefits were overlooked and the drugs cast into the outer darkness.

The latest craze is microdosing, which consists of ingesting tiny amounts of drugs such as LSD to produce subtle changes in cognitive function.  Yeah! Right on man!  There are kits for sale on the dark side of the Net, but results are spotty, rather like the spots in front of your eyes after a dose, but some of the results are encouraging.

I suppose if a drug caused clogging of the arteries, emphysema, shortness of breath, lung cancer and premature death, any responsible government would ban it.  Not so.  And I suppose if a drug caused mental impairment, vomiting, liver damage and loss of control, any responsible government would ban it.  Not so.  Cheers!

The simple answer to this ongoing debate is to declassify all drugs, and those determined to kill themselves should be allowed to do so.

 

STILL GAGGING FOR IT

The firestorm continues apace following my original blog of the same title and the Daily Mirror’s take on it.  Whatever else, it has got people talking about the issues raised in (alleged) rape cases, and most important of all, the issue of drink and drugs. Whilst my remedy for the resolution of this issue was not well received by the majority of women who have commented on it, I remind my readers that there is a real prospect of a miscarriage of justice if the prosecution are allowed to move the goalposts as Alison Saunders is suggesting.  I also remind my readers that a conviction for rape carries with it an immediate sentence of imprisonment, and trying to overturn an unsafe conviction is a protracted and uncertain procedure.

That said, the purpose of this update is to put this lively debate into proportion.  Excluding the Press and the Media, who often work to their own agenda and where truth can be a moveable  feast, the reaction of those leaving comments on my blog has been most instructive.  They divide almost equally along gender lines.  The women for the most part are strident in their condemnation.  According to the Daily Mail, leading the pack is Ms. Sarah Green, director of End Violence against Women Coalition, followed hard on her heels by Ms. Louise Pennington, of the campaign group Ending Victimisation.  By the very banner headlines under which they parade their prejudices, it is unlikely I shall find a balanced and reasoned argument.

The men have a different take on the issue.  I wonder if a brother organisation similar to Louise Pennington’s campaign group, but there to protect men from being falsely accused of rape, might find favour to redress the imbalance.

For the purposes of a headcount, I ignore the expletives and offensive comments, once again from women, which add nothing  to the debate and which have been deleted.  By the same token, I cannot comment on individual cases brought to my attention by men or on behalf of men, who claim they have been the subject of a miscarriage of justice.  I would need to know all the facts before reaching a conclusion.

You can read the comments left on my blog for yourselves and make up your own minds.

Postscript.  It seems that my timely intervention in the casual sex and consent debate is already reaping dividends.  Teenage pregnancies have fallen to their lowest rate since records began more than four decades ago. And it doesn’t stop there. There is a new government initiative to encourage discussions amongst children as young as 11 on difficult subjects such as rape, coercion, drink, and at what point teenagers are capable of agreeing to sex. You can thank me later.

CAST NOT THE FIRST STONE

By all accounts, Akmal Shaikh, a 53 year old Pakistani whose family settled in England when he was a boy, has been executed following his conviction of importing nearly 9 pounds of heroin into China. Needless to say, the importation of drugs is a capital crime.

The background to Mr. Shaikh’s execution is curious in the extreme. He had a ‘supportive’ family, two of whom travelled to Beijing to plead for mercy. Their pleas fell on deaf ears. Mr. Shaikh in a former life was a taxi service manager in Kentish Town, that jewel in the crown of north London, but somewhat mysteriously found himself homeless in Poland, and where was his supportive family when he needed them most? He agreed to act as a drugs mule when he was promised a hit record that would be a singing sensation and would usher in world peace. It sounds like an episode from X Factor, and about as bad. He then found himself travelling to Tajikistan, wherever that is, and thence into China.

We are now told that Mr. Shaikh was mentally ill, the same defence used by the English hacker to prevent his extradition to the United States. But as any self respecting psychiatrist will tell you, there is a world of difference between mental illness and downright stupidity, and in the case of Mr. Shaikh, the jury are still out. Surely, somewhere between Poland and Urumqi, his port of entry, it must have dawned on him that he was being played for a fool, but apparently not.

It is well known by drug prevention agencies that ‘barons’ habitually use vulnerable people to act as mules. This has two obvious benefits. The knowledge they can provide as part of a wider investigation is limited in the extreme, and their very vulnerability makes them less of a target when they arrive at their port of entry.

It is this vulnerability that results in the successful importation of drugs throughout the world. ‘Barons’ factor in a 10% detection rate, leaving 90% to reach the user The profits are enormous, so well worth the risk.

The Chinese reason, and not without cause, that if the vulnerable are going to be treated leniently, this will simply encourage the ‘barons’ to keep using them. The Chinese also reason, and again not without cause, that if leniency based on mental illness, or a dozen or more excuses, is not an option, then perhaps Akmal and others who follow him will pause to reflect.

Despite the best efforts of the British Government, the execution was carried out in accordance with Chinese law. We in the western world might ‘tut’ and click our teeth, and trot out statistics about China executing more of its criminals than the rest of the world put together, but it wasn’t so long ago that we here in Britain hanged children for theft, and often on the flimsiest of evidence, and it wasn’t until 1965 that we abolished capital punishment. That was scant comfort to the likes of Evans, Bentley and Riley.

I do not criticise the British Government for their efforts, but any idiot could have told them it was doomed to failure. However, I doubt the wisdom of criticising China after the event, and in such strident language. As they say in China: “Softly softly catchee monkey,” and then boil it lightly in a garlic and butter sauce. Strident language certainly won’t help the next time around. Reprieve, which lobbies against capital punishment, simply added fuel to the flames by particularly asinine comments, based as they were on a blinkered and very partial view of the case.

Some, like Reprieve, may espouse a sort of universal morality, but if they do, they are living in a fool’s paradise. Barbaric punishment, much worse than lethal injection, is a daily reality, where adulterers and homosexuals are stoned to death, where ‘honour killings’ are a way of life, even in England, and where mutilation carries with it the imprimatur of the State. And where is Reprieve when we need a voice crying in the wilderness?