A MORALLY NEUTRAL STANCE

January 26, 2018

                                                 

                                        Thesaurus defines addiction as enslavement  

 

                                                                                                                  

 There is a certain irony in the fact that the general public in many first world countries are being duped into accepting or even demanding their own enslavement. They are encouraged in this folly by a shrill and vocal minority of spin-doctors who postulate the notion that the prohibition of street drugs is a denial of civil liberties. Typical of the misinformation that has underpinned the whole philosophy of Harm Minimization in drug education are the following claims.

 

  • Street drugs are a’ normal’ activity in modern western societies

  • All drugs are the same unless abused.

  • Street drugs can be used in a safe / responsible way.

  • Claim that there is no evidence to support the theory of gateway drugs.

  • Marijuana is a ‘soft’ drug

  • Fail to make a distinction between legal and illegal drugs

  • Promote the myth that only people with social or psychological problems become the drug addicts

  • Claim that experimenting with drugs is quite normal for teenagers.

  •  Deny the link between experimentation, occasional use, habitual use and addiction.

  • Withhold information about the health risks associated with marijuana particularly for the developing brain.

 

The bureaucrats who designed the drug education syllabus for schools decided to make it  ‘morally neutral’. Apparently it is not enough for the syllabus it was devoid of any factual or relevant information. No, apparently to fit the ‘criteria’ of drug education it also had to be devoid of any common sense.

For generations advisors on government drug policy have persistently and with great determination promoted harm minimisation claiming that, “it is a morally neutral stance and that drug use is neither good or bad”.

 Such a peculiar concept poses some rather challenging questions. Firstly, is it ethical, unethical or morally neutral for drug users to contribute to organised crime and in some cases commit crimes in order to obtain their drugs?   Is it morally neutral to endanger the staff in our public hospitals who have to control violent drug users? And what about the victims of house invasions and burglaries, are these crimes also ‘morally neutral’ if committed by drug addicts? Surely drivers of cars and public transports who are high on drugs have a moral obligation not to put the lives of the public at risk. Most importantly how is it possible to claim a ‘morally neutral stance’ when so often the children of drug users are the victims of physical, psychological and sexual abuse?

Would this bizarre logic apply to other dangerous products such as asbestos that was used in buildings for years but prohibited when it was realised that it can cause asbestosis and mesothelioma?  Of course not, the Australian government based its decision to outlaw asbestos because it was considered unethical to endanger the health and well being of its citizens. There was never any question of taking a ‘morally neutral stance’ on the use of asbestos in the building of our homes’.  

Today most of those who favor removing legal sanctions - particularly on marijuana -  are from the age group who were educated within the guidelines of a morally neutral ideology rather than evidenced-based best practice.* Many teachers unquestioningly followed the guidelines of government drug education programs and as a result they have unwittingly groomed students to be potential customers for the addiction market.  Predictably as a result of these flawed drug education programs support for the legalisation of marijuana in Australia is increasing.

 

Values

One of the basic principles of secular liberation – is the pursuit of happiness. This has led many people to believe that their personal gratification takes precedence over the rights of the community. i.e. the common good. On the other hand the fundamental principles of those who hold traditional values are responding to other peoples needs and legitimate rights. They believe that these are the values more likely to bring about social justice.

This is where a conflict arises in relation to drugs. Nonetheless I believe most Australians regardless of whether they hold religious or secular values do respect and respond to each other’s rights and needs. This is evident whenever there is a public appeal, national crisis or a call for assistance to rescue people in floodwaters or to fight bush fires.

I think we are a generous nation and share a spirit of egalitarianism and fair play and I have no doubt that parents and teachers and responsible members of the community will be very concerned once they are alerted to the fact that there has been an attempt to deceive them into believing that the drug problem will be resolved if it is left to a select group of people who unbeknown to most of them are in favour of legalisation.

Challenging the status quo is the cutting edge of progress and since the beginning of time societies have been molded and restructured by political and social revolutions. However although various ‘movements’ of the 1960s have had enormous multiplicative effects on the present generation and while acknowledging that many of the reforms have made a positive contribution to the cause of social justice, it would be a serious error of judgment to place drug use in the same philosophical context.

Very few rights are absolute and all actions must be exercised with a sense of social responsibility and obligation to the common good and of course there are limits to the pursuit of happiness. The main one being that it is not acceptable to disadvantage or endanger one’s fellow man. In Western society we are experiencing a drug epidemic and too many young people are being exposed to the dangers of an enormous variety of inherently dangerous addictive, mind-altering substances.

It has become increasingly difficult for parents to drug proof their children. In fact they are also victims in this mythical 'War on Drugs''. They have to contend with cultural support for street drugs in almost every form of entertainment including sport where their children’s heroes are exposed as drug cheats. In my view the drug and alcohol agencies and health bureaucrats who created the whole harm minimisation myth not only failed in their duty of care but have also been complicit in the creation of an ‘addiction industry’. 

 In many ways it is now up to parents to protect their children from the system itself. They must learn as much as possible about street drugs and pass this knowledge onto their children. It is important for them to remember that the decisions adolescents make at this time of their lives that will determine whether they live a normal healthy lifestyle or become caught up in the drug culture.     

Recently I had a very interesting and thought-provoking discussion with students on the subject of ethics and values.

In my opening remarks I made the following statement: -

 

"It is difficult to justify any international corporations or billionaires making money from a business that depends on addiction  - a condition that robs people of their dignity and freedom of choice   and is even considered by many as a form of ‘slavery.’

 Nor is it consistent with the concept of human dignity to maintain drug addicts in a state of dependency and hopelessness. If the Australian government goes down the track of allowing the use of dangerous, addictive, mind altering drugs into Australia and then having created a significant number of addicts maintain their addiction through maintenance programs then in my opinion, they are no better than the corrupt corporations who are prepared to exploit the weak and dependent to create wealth.

 

Q: But aren’t you making a value judgment?

Of course I am making a value judgment. Everyone makes judgments based on their values. Actually I find the way in which you asked that question very interesting. It is a platitude that has become very popular. 

 

Q: What do you mean?

A It infers that making a value-laden judgment is the same as making a logical mistake.  It supports the concept of ethical relativism. There is no doubt that values/ethics are part of the drug ‘conversation’ but I don’t think we can assume that all values expressed are equally valid.

The values of Kim Jong-un are relative to him and the Dalai Lama ‘s values are relative to him. But their respective values are not, on that account equally valid or worthy of praise or blame.

 

Q: Is that why so many people tolerate their friends using drugs?

A: Exactly, they say nothing because they don’t want to appear to be making a so-called ‘value judgment’. I think we are having a similar problem with other populist theories. We are being overwhelmed by trendy abstractions. If we are not careful we will soon be too intimidated to express an opinion about anything at all. It is fashionable to believe that because values vary with the different people who hold them, they are on that account equally valid. This line of thinking leads many young people to tolerate and accept illegal drug taking among their friends.

 

Q: Is there a particular reason for this?

A: The conflict of liberties we are experiencing in western countries in the twenty first century are unprecedented mainly because of the enormous change in traditional, social and ethical standards

Accompanying these social changes has seen progressive western societies such as Australia cease to make collective ethical judgments about good or bad behaviour.

As a result, the negative social consequences of drug taking are rarely emphasised and no one appears to be considering the impact that the endemic use of drugs will have on future generations. Nowadays it has become very trendy to be ‘non-judgmental’.

 

Q: But no one has the right to judge other people.

A:  There is a difference between compassion and empathy with people who are drug dependent and expressing an opinion about social issues. Particularly about the use of illegal drugs that are so detrimental to the community.

It is very easy to manipulate a discussion on sanctions to accuse opponents of being ‘judgmental’ or suggesting their point of view is based on ‘moral considerations’. Religion does not own ethics and morals and it is just typical venom of the bigoted to make this claim.

 

 Q: Do you think Australians favors any particular values?

A: One of the basic principles of nineteenth century liberalism – now referred to as secular liberation – is the pursuit of happiness. This has led many people to believe that their personal fulfillment takes precedence over the rights of the community. i.e. the common good.

On the other hand the fundamental principles of those who hold traditional values are respect for each other and responding to other peoples needs and legitimate rights. They believe that these are the values more likely to generate peace and social justice.

This is where a conflict arises in relation to drugs. Nonetheless I believe most Australians regardless of whether they hold religious or secular values, respect and respond to each other’s rights and needs. This is evident whenever there is a public appeal national crisis or a call for assistance to rescue people in floodwaters or to fight bush fires.

I think we are a generous nation and share a spirit of egalitarianism and fair play and I have no doubt that parents and teachers and responsible members of the community will be very concerned once they are alerted to the fact that there has been an attempt to deceive them into believing that the drug problem will be resolved if it is left to a select group of people who unbeknown to most of them are in favour of legalisation.

 

Q: But societies are always in a state of flux.

A: I quite agree – challenging the status quo is the cutting edge of progress and since the beginning of time societies have been formed and reformed by political and social revolutions. However although the various movements of the 1960s have had enormous multiplicative effects on the present generation and while acknowledging that many of the reforms have made a positive contribution to the cause of social justice, it would be a serious error of judgment to place drug use in the same philosophical context.

Very few rights are absolute and all actions must be exercised with a sense of social responsibility and obligation to the common good. There are limits to the pursuit of happiness. The main one being that it is not acceptable to disadvantage or endanger one’s fellow man. In Western society we are experiencing a drug epidemic and too many young people are being exposed to the dangers of an enormous variety of inherently dangerous addictive, mind-altering substances.  Although not specifically referring to street drugs we should nevertheless heed the words of Albert Einstein who said “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive”

 

FOOTNOTES An extract from be ALERT and ALARMED. Discussion with students

 * If external pollutants such as asbestos or DDT were under discussion could you imagine anyone agreeing to exposing thousands of young Australians to its effects? 

*: The 2017 United Nations World Drug Report demonstrates how a ‘epidemic pattern’ of drug use has taken place in the United States.

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

                   

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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