The baby called Hashtag.
Throughout the span of human existence, there have lived some great people; nay, visionaries; whose extraordinary work has enshrined them in history not just as mortals, but as figureheads for a cause. Martin Luther King, Emmeline Pankhurst, and born November the 27th 2012, a new entry to this tapestry of demi-gods: Hashtag Jameson, the human embodiment of Twitter.
I hear murmurings of cynicism, but let me calm your concerns. Twitter is one of the most important forces for good in the world. How quickly would the civil rights movement have been concluded were King to have the righteous force of Guardian commentators driving his cause? There would have been no need for Emily Davison to die her tragic death had Rob Delaney been standing proudly beside the suffragettes. Who is more deserving to join this roll-call of legends than the child that grows up bearing the name of Twitter’s trademark symbol?
Hashtag Jameson, the walking zeitgeist. How will he live? His life will be primarily spent combating injustice, but to truly understand the mind of a hero, we must scratch beneath the surface, and look to his humble day to day existence. We can know, for example, that Hashtag will spend his Thursday nights watching Question Time, angrily berating Melanie Phillips for defending the noble and traditional pursuit of kitten kicking, or mocking an audience member so sweaty they resemble a budget Herbal Essences advert.
We may too deduce that Hashtag will be a connoisseur of contemporary music, professing a marked (some critics will argue obsessive) appreciation of One Direction and Justin Bieber, frequently lamenting that he was never to know the pleasure of licking Harry Styles’ Adonis-like features and tousling his flowing locks. In a streak of self-loathing that will define his life, however, he will frequently scold himself for these outbursts of amour, and wish death in increasingly inventive ways upon his idol and father figure Bieber in a manifestation of his latent Oedipus complex.
No hero is without flaws. Hashtag, perhaps spurred on by the baleful influences of his peers Banter and Lad, will occasionally lapse into bouts of misogyny and crudity, and be photographed unsuccessfully attempting to drink a pint of Carling from a friend’s perineum while wearing a t-shirt bearing the legend “The Patriarchy Made Me Do It!”.
One of the defining features of his existence will be a continued rivalry with the gaping black void of malignance that would eventually consumeNorth Americaand most ofCanada, known formerly as Piers Morgan. With a prescience that will shock the world, he will spend a great deal of time berating the unholy being, draped in flesh and masquerading as a human, over his inflated sense of self-importance and predilection for consuming souls. Sadly, his warnings will go unheeded, and it will take years before Joey Barton MBE banishes it to the hell from whence it came.
Any report of his life, however, cannot pass without thinking of his rock, his love, and his meganonce (the term that will replace “marriage” after gay people are awarded it); Instagram Jones. Though the tabloids will mock her changing faces and rampant obesity that stems from her compulsive need to constantly stare upon rustic yet highly expensive plates of food, she will stay with Hashtag until his end, their shared history defining an incredible life.
One day, Hashtag will die, as do most things, Bruce Forsyth providing the still perplexing exception. He will wither away from lack of attention as Instagram runs off with late developer Google Plus, and Overlord Mensch makes Menshn the basic communication device for the world state. But he will be remembered as one of the most important people of our time. For that, he will be saluted. #decent. #decent indeed.
…on Doorstopping Kelvin Mckenzie.
Before I embark on this post, a caveat: Kelvin Mckenzie is not a nice man. Nowhere in the rancid, suppurating mass that he calls his heart is there even a spark of human decency. Children weep as he passes. Birds fall from the sky. His jowly face is nothing but a skin mask covering a gaping void of pure chthonic malice. He’s the kind of chap that Satan himself would describe as “a bit of a twat”. The idea of defending him makes me want to scrub my brain with steel wool and bleach. Defend him, though, I shall.
There was nothing heroic about Channel 4’s actions, as Owen Jones said. It was not journalism, nor was it a piece of Swiftian satire, as one Twitter user hilariously opined. It was a performance redolent of Paxman’s “did you threaten to overrule him?” skit on Newsnight. Superficially hard-hitting and amusing, but think about it for more than a couple of seconds and it was the actions of somebody with nothing more interesting to say.
The fact that it pales in comparison to Mckenzie’s misdeeds is an irrelevance. The old adage about two wrongs not making a right holds true. Sinking to his level doesn’t solve anything, and indeed a puerile 2 minutes spent shouting through a letterbox and blocking a car door does nothing but make Channel 4 seem petty. It was a stunt. Can arsehole-in-chief Mckenzie really be expected to give an interview on his doorstep? Of course not. Were it anybody but him, the admission “I’m doing an interview next week” would seem satisfactory. Channel 4 got what they want, which is a bit of publicity, an exciting headline, and a gaping void were the news normally is.
Jimmy Carr and tax avoidance.
Jimmy Carr has used a very shady but still totally legal method to avoid losing the proportion of his earnings in taxation that the system expects of him. There’s been a great deal of support for his actions, and he’s been defended on a number of grounds from claims of unfairness and immorality. I’m going to consider a few of these defences and see how they stand up to scrutiny.
Defence #1: “Here’s a deal: I’ll give a shit how much tax comedians pay when the government stops pissing it away on Olympics and such” - this one shouldn’t need much debate. Locate your nearest pensioner and it’s only a matter of time before they mumble “two wrongs don’t make a right” to themselves/The Daily Mail. It doesn’t matter that the government occasionally (and allegedly) wastes taxes. That doesn’t in any way form a good reason not to pay them. It doesn’t all go on alternative medicine and MP’s expenses.
Defence #2: “I don’t see what the problem is. What he did was totally legal, so why are people complaining?” - people seem to be making the mistake of equating legal with moral. There are many things which are legal and still would be viewed as immoral by the greater public. Infidelity, for example.
Defence #3: “It’s unfair that rich people should pay more of their taxes anyway, why shouldn’t he get round an unfair system?” - here we get to the more cogent ones. There’s a perfectly valid debate to be has as to whether being (or becoming) rich necessarily obliges you to pay more in taxes than everyone else - I’m inclined to think that a greater burden should fall upon those that can bear it in matters such as this. However, the problem is that the mechanism by which he has beaten what is, for the sake of argument, an unfair system, is not one available to everybody involved in it. The K2 scheme, as it’s known, requires a sizeable contribution to the parties involved, something that is very quickly cancelled out by the savings made but which also makes any involvement in it by the less well-off impossible.
It is only fair that he should beat the unfair system if everybody within the system can as well. As it is, he beats this system through his wealth, something lacking in 95% of those involved. There is a further point to this, call it Defence #3.1: “why shouldn’t he use his wealth to legally gain advantage? Denying the possibility of that denies the value of wealth at all” (in what I hope is a reasonable paraphrase). The problem with this is that it seems to assign the same moral status to every exercise of wealth. Denying that one use of money to gain advantage is fair does not deny them all. The obvious riposte to this is to ask exactly why, then, using wealth to gain an advantage in taxation terms is any worse than any other method.
Wealthy people can buy better healthcare, and be treated much more quickly. There’s no queues at BUPA. They can afford nicer food. They can afford expensive lawyers that give them a better chance of avoiding prison. These are all advantages brought by wealth which we tolerate. Why draw the line at taxation? I think the thing that separates it from things such as healthcare is that taxation is an obligation, and an obligation that is used in theory for society’s needs - education, healthcare, housing, welfare, etc etc. There is a difference between using wealth to shirk an obligation that the less well-off have no choice but to obey and between using wealth to gain a better quality of life. Possibly. I’m less sure about this, and I think there’s probably something in the argument.
As I said above, however, this debate is only relevant if we accept that the system is unfair, and it is only his method of breaking out of it that isn’t. If we can prove that it is fair and just that the rich pay a greater proportion of their earnings then the whole point becomes moot, as avoiding it is then unequivocally unfair and unjust. I’d hesitate to attempt this. Theories of taxation probably extend beyond my sphere of knowledge, so I’ll have to just flag it as a possible point and move on/leave it up to more qualified people. I hear Professor Copout is very good.
Defence #4: “Let him avoid tax if he wants! He’s just an ordinary guy, we would all do the same” - I’ve chosen this one just to comment upon the general public reaction to the whole thing. I feel like his position as a broadly likeable public figure has made people a lot more sympathetic to his actions. An investment banker earning a similar amount and avoiding a similar amount of tax would get no such affection. It’s no use having a sensible debate when clouded by such bias and unreasonable sympathy.
In conclusion then, I think Carr’s innocence (as far as my thought process/debates have gone) relies upon two things. The first is whether it is just that the rich pay more, and more broadly, whether the system that he is exploiting is a fair one. It could easily be argued that it is completely fair and moral to escape an unfair system. The second is if we assume that the system is unjust, is it fair that he exercise his wealth to escape it where others could not? Following from this, if we deny that this escape is fair, must we deny every advantage of wealth, or is taxation different? Intuitively, the idea of a rich person buying their way out of paying their assigned proportion of tax seems wrong. Intuition means bugger all, however, and I think the question still remains open.
A defence of paedophilia.
Of all the irrational arguments being peddled for the prevention of gay marriage, one of the most obviously wrong ones is the “slippery slope” argument. It suggests that if we start loosening bonds on marriage and opening it up to any old loving couple, we’ll end up in a state where people can marry their favourite goat or pencil-case. Now I’m in favour of man-goat love as much as the next man, but it’s obvious that allowing equal rights for gay people won’t lead to a sudden outbreak of beastiality. It did, however, lead me down a more interesting chain of thought.
There’s no denying that, as time goes by, we are whittling away the remnants of a once prejudicial and backwards culture. 200 years ago and the idea of a black man one day becoming president of the most powerful nation on earth would be ludicrous. 150 years ago a woman daring to suggest that she should get the vote would bring on an almighty fit of the vapours. As little as 50 years ago gay people getting equal rights would make an awful lot of awful people spit their tea out in disgust. The question is, have we hit a plateau? Having secured equal of race, gender and sexuality, is everybody just going to go home? I’d suggest not. The evidence of history would suggest that if society continues to progress in a similar manner, then in another 50 years something currently looked at as taboo, and unthinkable, could become the subject of a civil rights movement; an amelioration; a PC GONE MAD prevention of discrimination. My suggestion is that this may be paedophilia. I’d also suggest that that’s not the worst thing in the world.
First off, some clarifications are needed. Contrary to popular opinion, paedophilia is only an attraction to prepubescent children. After 12 or 13, it becomes ephebophilia, or just plain old attraction. The second clarification is that I’m not talking about child abusers. Child abusers are (admittedly often incredibly damaged themselves) individuals who commit unspeakable acts. I will not defend them here. I’m talking about people who have a latent or concealed attraction to children but do not act on it.
Now, think about it. There must be hundreds of them. A paedophile is not fundamentally a violent or abusive person. It is merely manifested through attraction and fantasy. Consider the proportion of heterosexual people who commit violent sexual crime - it’s very low. I imagine it’s higher among paedophiles, if only because self loathing and social stigma would tend to mean they have a greater likelihood of psychological issues, but it would still be a fraction of the whole. With this in mind, I think it’s not unreasonable to suggest that there’s many, many hidden or repressed paedophiles roaming the streets.
The question that needs to be asked is whether attraction to children is fundamentally unethical. I’d say it is not. Disregarding more extreme opinions which might suggest that to think the crime is ethically as bad as committing the crime, all that is happening is a thought process. It may be a thought process considered deviant, and socially abhorrent, but it is only a thought process all the same. People have all manner of strange fantasies within the confines of their own head, and I suspect that there isn’t a person on this world who hasn’t let some fairly disgraceful thoughts cross their mind at some point.
It’s very hard not to be kneejerk. It’s so profoundly drilled into us that these thoughts are morally indefensible and evil that the idea of considering them sympathetically wouldn’t even cross most peoples’ minds. These people are probably crippled by self loathing. To not be at home with your sexuality - in any way at all - is not a pleasant experience. To feel that your sexuality is repugnant even worse. I think that at some point there should be, if not a championing of the right to be a paedophile, something of an armistice. People should be able to admit it, and be treated with sympathy and understanding - perhaps treatment, although I suspect that’s impossible - rather than social ostracism and hatred. I think it’s very very important to bite back the instinctive “but it’s just wrong/evil” response and really think hard about WHAT is wrong or evil about it, on a fundamental level.
I do realise that other forms of atypical sexuality, things like the various fetishes, beastiality, whatever the Goatse man is in to, are not quite viewed with an open mind, and so expecting paedophilia to be seen in the same way is perhaps optimistic. We are talking quite a few years in the future now though.
I should also comment about the criminalising of child porn. I think that those making it and spreading it should be targeted and taken apart. Hit very hard indeed. There should be no doubt of that. I’m a bit more unsure about how exactly to punish the viewer, your common or garden repressed paedophile, finding them on one of 4chan’s offshoots or whatever. You could say it contributes to the creation, and so there is a complicity in viewing it, and I think there’s something in that, though I don’t know enough (thankfully) about the mechanisms of it all. There’s also the case of committing the crime accidentally or naively, youths being sent or trying to find naked pictures of their peers. Again, not sure how prevalent that is or how likely it is to be punished. Opinions entirely welcomed on all of this.
If anybody has disposable cash, by the way, put lots of money on Channel 4 doing a sensitive documentary following a paedophile in the next 10 years. It’s going to happen.
n.b. no I am not a paedophile, and this blog is not me airing my personal grievance at a world who refuses to let me have sex with children. someone was going to say it, so I thought I’d get in early.
Also, this was written after no sleep at all, so usual disclaimer “lol sorry if it’s crap”.
A different death penalty argument.
This isn’t an ethical argument about the death penalty. It’s a statistical one. Statistics are a lot harder to argue with.
The blunt truth is that the death penalty just doesn’t function as a deterrent. Study after study has found no statistically significant correlation between crime rates and death penalty. Studies have been done in states in which the death penalty has been introduced, thus allowing a much easier comparison - social conditions stay fundamentally the same, the penalty changes. The crime rate doesn’t.
There’s a couple of reasons for this. A big one is that the death penalty is very rarely a death penalty at all. In the USA, of the 3335 inmates on death row in 1997, only 2% were put to death that year. 3335 in the WHOLE of the US, and of them only about 60 were killed. The death penalty isn’t a death penalty. It’s just a life sentence under a different name. Consider the remoteness of death, the likelihood of conviction, the chance of getting caught, as WELL as the rewards and motivations for committing a crime. When all of these factors are weighed up by someone committing a crime, the death penalty barely dents the rest.
We must also consider the state of mind of those committing a crime. A violent crime - a crime of passion, perhaps - is not one that is normally preceded by a logical calculation of risk and deterrent. It must also be considered that for those involved in organised crime and gang warfare, people who comprise a very high proportion of violent criminals, the chance of them dying is already fairly high. If they are conviced and sent to death row, the 2% chance of execution is in fact LOWER than the 7% death rate that a 2000 study found among street level gang members in the worst areas.
If the death penalty is not a deterrent then, what are we left with? The idea of killing someone because of the huge amount of money spent keeping them alive in prison is an abhorrent one. We are not a society who kills for financial convenience. The other one is of punishment, but when punishment is no deterrent, it just functions as vengeance, and just as we do not live in a society that kills for convenience, we also don’t live in one that kills for revenge.
A defence of fox hunting.
Well. Sort of. It can be viewed either as an argument to legalise hunting or to make organic farming and ethical clothing and technology a legal obligation. Hopefully that sounds a bit less leftfield by the time you’ve finished reading this. The root of this idea comes from a drunken conversation had with a housemate, and I’ve only really started thinking about it again.
First of all, some clarity on what I mean by hunting, and the associations that come with it. I am talking about hunting with dogs. Hunting with dogs is cruel - torture, even. Other ways (trapping, poison) are equally cruel and painful, and reputable studies have suggested some are in fact more so. There is a debate to be had as to whether hunting is actually more distressing for the animal, and it’s one that is constantly hindered by uninformed claims. “Of course it must be worse, it’s awful!”. At the same time, there are methods such as spotlighting which are manifestly less cruel, if slightly less practical. The debate over cruelty isn’t concluded, and it is prudent to consider which other factors are considered in the objection to hunting.
The obvious one is the fact that it is a sport. It should turn the stomach of anyone that people would engage in the torture of animals for their own pleasure. But here’s one of the foundations of this post: is the consumption and perpetuation of battery farmed produce not also gaining pleasure from torture? I know that’s an emotive statement, and emotive statements are always unhelpful. There is a few steps in between the torture and your burger. Does that absolve responsibility, just because you aren’t the one running the factory? You certainly do not need it for sustenance. They are different kinds of pleasures. One is the thrill of the hunt and the echo of tradition. One is a slightly cheaper burger - sometimes not even that. I don’t mean to glorify hunting at all. I wouldn’t find the slightest thrill in killing a wild animal, not would I be anything but nauseated by the traditions of the wealthy rural elite. Saying that, however, suggests a further reason for the widespread objection to hunting. Classism.
I didn’t want to say it. I really didn’t. I have as much antipathy for the very wealthy bred into me as most. But if we cannot prove that hunting is more cruel, and cannot justify eating food that is sourced from awful conditions, why, then, is there such support for the hunting ban? It’s conceivable, of course, that people hadn’t considered anything more than the obvious. But I think that if hunting wasn’t done by rich landowners in red jackets and shiny boots, there would be much less opposition. All the ridiculous claims of ‘tradition’ (traditionally we burned witches at the stake, but that isn’t a good thing either) would fall on much more willing ears if it was a fine working class tradition.
Now: the law. The argument is essentially one from consistency. I think that inhumanely produced food is ethically indistinguishable from hunting with foxes. I hope I’ve gone some degree towards justifying that. So what place does the law have in involving itself in these activities? If you take the stance that it should intervene in instances of animal abuse, then there can be no reason for an outright ban on hunting with foxes without a concurrent ban on cruel farming. If you don’t take the stance that the law should intervene, then you’re wrong and horrible, I’m afraid.
Now to bring it back to the first point, the whole thing brings up a slightly discomfiting conflict for me, and probably one that every vegetarian will say “well DUH” to. Legalising the torture of animals for pleasure in the forming of fox hunting is emotionally and intuitively wrong. Surely, if we accept that as a society, then any farming other than organic and humane should be just as illegal? I’ll take this one step further. If we don’t consider animal abuse a legitimate method of providing our entertainment and our junk food, why would we consider child abuse a legitimate method of providing our clothing? That’s right, vegetarians. You’ve been sitting pretty this whole article, but I see you in your Primark tops listening to your Apple products. If we are going to CONSISTENTLY consider the cruelty that feeds our lifestyles, then this debate goes way above the head of some posh chaps murdering foxes.
We are very good at being selective in our causes. Turning a blind eye to cruelty. Sit and watch a homeless guy on the street, and watch people walking past, not just ignoring, but not even taking in the wreck of a human sat on their street while they deep-throat a subway. The world’s an awful place, and perhaps the only way to survive it without a breakdown is to pretend that it’s not, and get on with our lives, built and sustained by cruelty the world over.
A matter of Faith.
Here’s a question: how much is a person responsible for the views of the faith they belong to? If you name yourself part of a religion, are you de facto supporting all of their beliefs?
Now there have been many schisms in the church over the years, often over minor theological differences, but people may disagree with minor points of practice and still hold what are essentially identical beliefs to their denomination of choice. What if there is a belief, however, that is a big part of what it means to belong to a certain faith, and this belief is re-iterated and reinforced by the highest possible authority? Is it possible to disagree with that belief and still consider yourself a member of that faith?
Now, let’s tack something else on. What if this big bad belief was actually morally repugnant, and actively and definitely caused harm and death? Would that make it even *more* difficult to identify as part of a faith that practiced it? In fact, let’s go a step even further. If you remain in a faith that practices a belief both disagreeable and unethical, whilst not believing in it yourself, are you lending it tacit approval by your silence? In being able to get past it in the name of remaining in a certain faith, doesn’t that perpetuate it and implicate you in it?
Now, this has all been hypothetical, but it should be obvious what I’m scrabbling at here. The Catholic church’s stance, as repeatedly spoken about by the Pope, who is of course considered the conduit to God, is that to be homosexual is to be an abomination. Is to be evil. Corrupt. Doomed to an infinity of torture after death. The Catholic church also holds the stance that contraception is incompatible with their beliefs, and so not only will not allow members of it’s faith to use condoms, it perpetuates the myth that they are actively harmful in the prevention of deadly sexually transmitted infections. Everybody knows this. It doesn’t really need justifying.
I’m not writing a polemic here. It just genuinely mystifies me how people can be part of a faith that hold such repulsive views, and causes such direct harm, without thinking it reflects on them somehow. I might even go as far as saying that if you consider yourself Catholic, but don’t agree with the stance on contraception, or the stance on homosexuality, or the huge wealth in the Vatican (if Jesus came back today, he’s probably be nauseated by it all), or the covering up of widespread child molestation, then you probably aren’t a Catholic. Silence is not enough. If people disagree, they must speak up, or be tainted with the same brush.
Anyway, welcoming opinions on how you can be a Catholic and disagree with all the evil they do, and consider yourself still Catholic/not implicated.
Why are gay men camp? And other questions…
Maybe I’ve had a stroke. This is two posts about gay people in a row. I’ve been turned. It’s an unhealthy obsession. It’s certainly possible, if Chris Birch is to be believed.
Now I do the occasional post that has some academic integrity, ish, but I’m tired and my head hurts, so I’m laying my cards on the table. This story is fucking bullshit. Now I’m certainly no doctor - and neither are you, dear reader - so I wouldn’t presume to question the possibility of a momentous shift such as sexuality occurring after a stroke. I can say one thing for certain though: the chances of the stroke both turning you gay AND making you suddenly love stupid earrings, hairdressing and the Scissor Sisters are so astronomical as to be irrelevant. It may change your sexuality, but it certainly won’t change your personality to the correct stereotype with it.
This opens up a bigger question. If there is nothing inherent in sexuality that compels you to act in a certain manner beyond that exhibited as a result of your attractions, why are gay men camp? It might seem like a stupid question, but it bears some consideration. I am happy to be corrected but I think it’s safe to say there is nothing in biological or psychological terms that means if you are attracted to men, you must have limp wrists. I also hope it can be agreed upon that a much higher proportion of gay men exhibit camp behaviour than their straight compatriots. If, then, gay men are on the whole more likely to be camp, and it doesn’t come from any inherent connection to their sexuality, why do they do it?
The answer is, I think, a depressing one, but not that is particularly focused upon gay men. It’s something that happens across the spectrum. We inhabit stereotypes and images constantly. The way that we perpetuate them is second nature. There is no time for an exposition of your deepest personality aspects on a first meeting, so instead you rely upon the default image provided. Me? I’m probably as guilty, but I think it’s crap. I think it’s depressing. I think that people should allow their inner selves (I know, very zen) to speak for themselves, rather than placing yourself into the holes that are too readily dug by wider society. I don’t want to come across like some sort of Myspace self-help guru; “be yourself, be unique!”; but, for God’s sake, be yourself, and be fucking unique.
My apologies to any gay men who are camp because they are genuinely camp, or lesbian women who genuinely and personally reject cultural enforced values of femininity, or X demographic who are genuinely Y stereotype. Whatever. I’m not saying that “if you fit this stereotype, you’re weak and shit”. Only you know if your behaviour, your language, your taste in film, music, your use of language, is your own, or a construction; even if the construction has become so total as to be indistinguishable from yourself.
Dear anybody offended. If you say I’m wrong, answer me this. Do a majority of gay men conform to the stereotype, to a greater or lesser degree? (clue, the answer’s yes). And is this conformity the result of something unconscious, or inherent? The answer’s probably no. There is an argument to be made for societal pressure making it impossible not to deny the conformity - or to make it unwitting - and that’s fair enough. I’m not sure I buy it. Sorry for a rambling, incoherent post. I shouldn’t even be hitting “create”.
The whole unedifying kerfuffle around the emblazoning of London buses with the slogan “Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it!” has had the rare result of making every single party involved look awful.
First of all, the spark that lit the fire was an advert ran by Stonewall, the influential gay rights charity, on the current propaganda machine of the time, the London bus. You can’t help but think Goebbels missed a trick. It read “Some people are gay. Get over it!”. As somebody who happily considers himself “over it”, I can’t say the adverts had any great influence on me, nor can I imagine that any neo-nazis walking down the street were struck down with a flash of understanding by the banner and went and got their swastikas lazered off. The targets, then, must have been those ambivalent towards homophobia, and I imagine if they found the decision being made by something plastered on the side of a bus they will be too busy trying not to forget their own name to reach any real conclusions.
And so, according to the rules of the playground, the bigots were forced to respond in kind, running their own banner proudly crowing that they had in their possession that rare beast, the repentant gay, in defiance of the gay agenda and all evidence claiming their impossibility. As far as I’m concerned, if the American Psychiatric Association and the Royal College of Psychiatrists both say that you cannot choose your sexuality, I’m prepared to listen to them. Now, tit having responded to tat, that should have been the end of it, but regrettably things don’t work that way. In short, just as the Stonewall taunt had successfully goaded a response out of the Core Issues Trust, the particular bigots in question, the CIT had goaded a response out of Twitter. To overextend a metaphor, this was the playground equivalent of insulting, if perhaps not the biggest kid in school, at least a horde of toddlers with enough combined mass to do some damage.
And so, after so much righteous indignation it could be harnessed as an alternative energy source, Boris Johnson bumbled into view like a bear emerging from hibernation, shook off some leaves, and stated his intent to block the ads. Now, I hate to spin a line so well used it borders on the promiscuous, but I will all the same: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. Let the bigots run their ad. You may disagree with it, as you bloody well should, but that’s hardly the point. If Stonewall can run their ad, so can the CIT. You can’t allow certain ideologies to promote themselves and not others. That’s not how freedom works.
Why marijuana is a gateway drug.
To be clear first, obviously there is nothing chemically about it that impels users to try harder drugs, but I don’t think many people are actually saying that anyway. There are however social and psychological factors that mean weed very definitely is a gateway drug, and as such a legitimate cause for concern for those that want to restrict harder drug use.
There are 3 key factors in it all as I see it. The first is the overcoming that weed allows of the sense of transgression that comes from drug use. It is outside of social acceptability. It is illegal. To use drugs is to accept a great deal of baggage that years of socialisation have forced upon us about the fundamental wrongness of using drugs. This step for many, even unconsciously - they may fully, intellectually, accept that cannabis is essentially okay - could be a big one. There is still an emotional response to be overcome. Once it is, the step past weed into harder territory is suddenly much less of a jump. The act of smoking weed instantly makes the act of, say, taking a pill, much less of a big deal.
The second is a simple one. People smoking weed will, most of the time, find to their surprise that not only do they really enjoy it, but there isn’t the hangover they get from alcohol, or the huge amounts of money spent. The idea of altered states of mind (beyond alcohol, which doesn’t count; it’s so deeply ingrained in our culture that it hardly seems like an altered state at all, whereas drugs are seen as unnatural) suddenly seems less like an alien, unwanted idea, to something that’s both enjoyable and comfortable. People will reach the conclusion that, hey, what’s all the problem? This hasn’t made me into a waster. I have no problem with being in an altered mental state. The door to further drugs is opened further.
Finally, there are social factors. Whether you get it from a drug dealer, or from a friend who is comfortable with drugs, in smoking cannabis you are involving yourself to a greater or lesser extent in a social circle with a more laissez-faire attitude to drugs that you may hitherto have been exposed to. You are providing yourself with the means for more drugs, and an absence of condemnation for drug use. I shouldn’t have to explain why this environment is likely to make further drug use more likely.
Now I’m not using this to defend weed’s illegality. I’m not using it for anything. I’m just inclined to think, though, that the pro-drug lobby will not help itself if it does not stamp out certain myths about drugs use that are completely incorrect
I’ll probably write something else on this but, for example: while many drugs are a LOT safer than conservatives would have you think…they are also nowhere near as safe as the pro-drug lobby say either. There is, as always in life, a sensible middle ground, and one that people suggesting that marijuana doesn’t lead to further drug use aren’t occupying.