With a title like this, I expect the police would soon be knocking on my door. There should be community outrage. Parents should be appalled at such an idea. Health officials should demand an immediate retraction and apology.
Fortunately I am not suggesting that we do this. Quite the opposite. It is a stupid idea and no one should be proposing it. Yet incredibly that is just what the Victorian government is in effect doing, and with our tax dollars to boot. No, they are not arguing that we should drive while drunk, but they are arguing an identical sort of case: that if our young people must take illegal drugs, let’s show them how to do it safely.
A state government website offers advice to school leavers on how to use illicit drugs in its “safe partying” link. It includes such tips as: “take a small amount first to see how it effects you,” and kids should sip water to avoid dehydration and wear light clothing to avoid over-heating and dehydration.
About the only thing it doesn’t tell our kids is where to score the cheapest dope, and how to avoid police detection.
The website is of course totally irresponsible and foolish. Why teach kids how to take drugs that are illegal? That is tantamount to telling kids to break the law.
And why teach kids how to take drugs that are dangerous? We surely do not do that with other dangerous behaviours. For example, we do not tell kids, “Well, if you are going to drive while drunk, here are some safety tips. Tip one: drive only a little bit at first to see how your drunkenness affects your ability to drive. Tip two: while driving, drink lots of coffee to help you sober up. Tip three: try to drive slow so you are less likely to get in an accident.
Of course such advice is outrageous, idiotic, and dangerous in the extreme. But can any government official explain to me why this is irresponsible, while telling kids how to take illicit and mind-altering drugs is not?
Vic Health chief Rob Moodie tried to justify the web site by asking this question: “Do you just bury your head in the sand and assume that no information is good information? Or do you say, ‘This is dangerous but if you are going to do it this is the safest way to do it?’”
Let me help Mr Moodie. He is obviously having some difficulty here. Does the Victorian government offer the same rationale about another social concern, tobacco use? Let me just slightly paraphrase Mr Moodie: “Cigarette smoking is dangerous but if you are going to do it this is the safest way.”
Do the folk at Vic Health offer advice to our young people about the best filters for cigarettes, the lowest tar content, how to smoke and not be too endangered? The answer is no. And why not?
Because they know that cigarette smoking is harmful and it should never be countenanced. It is simply sending kids a contradictory message to say “do not smoke” on the one hand, while teaching them how to do it safely on the other.
So if our officials can get it right on smoking and drink driving, why do they get it so wrong on illicit drug use? Why the double standards here? Why the hypocrisy? Why not take a consistent line on all of these issues?
Why take a “just say no” approach to two of these activities, but put up the white flag of surrender on the third? Why argue that the get-tough approach works well with smoking and drink driving, but refuse to acknowledge it is the right approach to drug use as well?
I eagerly await our government officials explaining the logic of their schizophrenic approach. To me and most parents, it makes no sense whatsoever.
But making sense is not always a feature of government policy. Yet in an area like this where the lives of our children are at risk, it is time the government gets some sense, and gets it quickly.