As any regular visitor to Zelo Street will know, this blog has long urged a revisiting of the so-called “War on Drugs”, in which billions of pounds is expended, and no more than 1% of currently illegal drugs is taken off the streets, while users are criminalised and drugs become genuinely dangerous, as the entire business has been ceded to organised criminality.
The latest country to suffer at the hands of a war that was long ago lost is Mexico, where violent crime in the capital, Mexico City, appears out of control. I would have thought that anyone looking rationally at the situation would be able to see that, for the ideology of prohibition and punishment, the game was up. But I had reckoned without the presence of Melanie Phillips.
Mel has pored over the sad and premature death of singer Amy Winehouse, and has characteristically concluded that this is yet another indictment on the last Government, the supposed glorifying of drug culture, not locking up Pete Doherty, the “Great and Not-so-Good” (who they?), sloppy thinking, “and a society that has decided to inhabit a never-never land”.
Quite apart from the creepy similarity between Mel’s latest column and the Jan Moir hatchet job on Stephen Gately – the idea that both deaths were the shattering of some kind of fantasy or myth – there is the attempt to justify media intrusion into Winehouse’s life, telling that others were “lapping up news of her latest excesses”. No Mel, the Daily Mail’s readers were having it rammed down their throats.
And the idea that the entertainment industry “positively lionises the self-destructive behaviour that brings in such handsome rewards” is a quote of total and utter crap. Self-destructive behaviour does not bring “handsome rewards”, and no business that needs to generate substantial income “lionises” it. Some in and around the music business have used, and continue to use, currently illegal drugs.
But guess what, Mel? Hundreds of thousands of ordinary people, many of whom never saw an Amy Winehouse gig or shelled out for a copy of Back To Black, use those same drugs. For them, it’s got stuff all to do with celebrity. And it’s the same for the low level suppliers, the mules, the poor souls caught in the Mexico City crossfire, and the emergency services who clear up the mess.
Prohibition, the solution of Melanie Phillips, has been an abject failure. This cheap and nasty attempt to pin the problem on her usual suspect list merely shows that Mel doesn’t get it. Worse, she wants to make damn sure that anyone who reads the Daily Mail doesn’t get it, either.
And that’s not good enough.