Sunday, 14 November 2021

Our Almost Total Surrender

All the characters in the entertaining BBC drama Showtrial seem to think that drug-taking is entirely normal. When two murder suspects say vaguely they had been taking all sorts of drugs on the night of the killing, the police and prosecutors just accept it as a matter of course. The same thing happens when it comes up in court.

Drug-taking, though it involves the serious crime of possession, is just not interesting or relevant. A drug dealer, likewise, is portrayed as being about as wicked as a milkman. I would say this does not just reflect BBC attitudes (though it does), it is true to life. This is how our criminal justice system thinks and acts. It has given up on drugs, just when it should be fighting hard against them.

Without giving anything away about the ending, it strikes me that the horrible, pointless crime portrayed in this series would never have happened if nobody had taken any drugs. Killing people is hard. Soldiers have to be more or less bullied into it by training in obedience and dehumanisation. A normal person cannot kill, even if he holds a knife or a gun. Yet a person out of their mind on drugs can kill another human with a ballpoint pen. 

Much of the violence in our midst is pointless. People are stabbed for nothing, or beaten by assailants in wild frenzies. The website Attacker Smoked Cannabis keeps a list of such crimes, now so common that national media no longer bother to report most of them. What has changed in our society to bring this about? It is our almost total surrender to the presence of drugs.

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