Bad analogy - way beneath the Telegraph

In my opinion smoking a spliff and murdering someone cannot be sensibly compared. They just don't really seem to be on the same scale. I'm amazed that Telegraph journalist Michael Deacon disagrees:
Mike - The Telegraph's culture critic

Today’s leaders must find the courage to speak out. The current approach does not work. Since time immemorial, human beings have murdered each other. Trillions have been spent by governments to prevent people committing murder, and to imprison those who do, but to no avail. All we have to show for it is overflowing jails, tax-payers’ money wasted, and thriving criminal gangs.

We need to face facts: there will always be people attracted to killing. The threat of arrest and punishment has had no significant deterrent effect. Prohibition is no good. We must seriously consider decriminalisation, and start treating murder not as a criminal issue, but as a health issue.

It’s time to end the failed “War on Murder”.

Granted the poor lad is only trying to earn a coin and he's trying to do it with humour. However, this casual disregard for logic when applied to the debate on drug prohibition has frequently tragic consequences. For example, the UK cannabis market was estimated to be worth around £5 billion, per year, in 2002. (Source BBC) This figure will have risen in the past decade of course, given inflation and the increase in users. The lion's share of that money is currently being pumped directly into organised crime! Think of that next time you read about some moron with a gun, where'd he get the money to buy that? He works in an industry with a minimum budget of £5 billion a year.

Even sticking to the confines of this journalist's argument, taking the idea that murder and smoking a spill are similar can reveal a level of callous indifference that I suspect was unintended. I doubt there is anyone in the UK who wouldn't rather that the Moors' murderers hadn't decided to stay in and smoke a spliff instead of killing children. Or the killer of Martin Luther King. Or the man who shot John Lennon. Or any other example that pops into mind...

I spoke to a woman whose child was murdered once, it was one of the most intense experiences of my life. I'd never have had the gall to compare the actions of the evil thugs who did that to some student smoking a bong.

He continues and for, I presume legal reasons, tries to clarify:

The above is not, as far as I know, Sir Richard Branson’s position on killing. But it is more or less identical to his position on illegal drug use. Sir Richard’s logic is that, because governments have failed to prevent people committing a particular crime, it should no longer be classified as a crime at all.

I didn't watch Richard Branson's testimony. I know the arguments for the decriminalisation of cannabis inside out. If indeed that was his central logic, "because governments have failed to prevent people committing a particular crime, it should no longer be classified as a crime at all," then it's a perfectly defensible position.

The law should be practical and enforcable. If not it is dragged into the realm of impracticate and unenforcable. Why an opinion writer for the Telegraph would want the law to become impractical and unenforcable I do not know. I suspect it's because he hasn't thought it through. He is after all mainly used by The Telegraph as a culture critic.

Why politicians persist in this folly is quite another matter. If I were a journalist I'd be asking the following questions:

Why allow cannabis to fund organised crime to the tune of £5 billion?

Who in the UK benefits from well funded organised crime?

Why is the debate on cannabis always trivialised?

If you read the full article, you will notice our hero, Michael Deacon, even slags off Branson for daring to be "serious" about the issue:



Anonymous said…

FACT: Those who seek to criminalise cannabis smokers are looking more and more desperate. This article shows the absurdity.

Even though I know you don't partake it's good to see people in the mainstream media have accepted defeat on this one.

Free the weed!

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