Sunday, 28 September 2014

Is this hypocrisy?

I pose it as a question, because there are many subtle cultural forces at play, but on the front page of the Daily Telegraph today, there was this:

At the top: "Free pint of ale".

At the bottom: "Why Stephen Fry is wrong to boast about cocaine"

In the first instance the Telegraph is encouraging us to take psychoactive drugs.

In the second instance the Telegraph castigates someone for taking psychoactive drugs.

Libby Purves' distaste at Stephen Fry's drug use is twofold.

1) it's a criminal offence 
2) he enjoyed it.

Cocaine is more addictive than alcohol. It's a dangerous drug. 

Alcohol is addictive, and in terms of health risks, probably (depending on frequency/size of dose and susceptibility) as damaging as cocaine. 

So the distinction is what? Legal?

Well, yes, we absolutely shouldn't do things which are illegal. But laws should exist for good reason.

The laws which make certain psychoactive drugs illegal should either be applied to alcohol on the same grounds, or we should be looking at ways of making popular psychoactive drugs "safely" and legally consumable. 

Trying to have it both ways patently isn't working, from the health and social costs of making alcohol liberally available, to the health and social costs of criminalising alternative poisons.

So why give away a powerful, dangerous, psychoactive drug purely for the pleasure it brings, and then (pausing only to notify us of George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin's travel arrangements) condemn someone for taking a different powerful, dangerous, psychoactive drug purely for the pleasure it brings? 

It doesn't make sense. 



  1. Well spotted.

    You have, however, added to my morning of misery after seeing a number of media stories repeating old lies or creating new ones or swallowing PR puffs whole. And now you've added the hypocrisy.

    I see Purves makes no mention of what Fry says about alcohol.

    There's something deeply disturbing about this idea that Fry should have lied in his autobiography.

  2. Completely agree Nick - utter hypocrisy :)

  3. On the published evidence, alcohol is a lot more addictive than cocaine and more harmful. On balance and adding in personal experience, I'd say they are both as bad as each other and even worse together (which is inevitable).

    This is the casual deception and dishonesty which pervades Fleet Street. In the UK, the alcohol industry spends £800 million pa on advertising, so what do you expect?

    Why do you think the tens of thousands killed every year by alcohol are ignored and the 1,000 or so killed by illicit drugs each year are sensationalised and exaggerated?