The Failed “War on Drugs” – Time for Change

failedwarondrugs

The international, US-led, ideological “war on drugs” has been an utter failure and it is about time the UK joined a growing number of nations in taking a scientific, evidence-based approach to dealing with the inevitable use of psychoactive substances.

The authoritarian idea of controlling the behaviour of the public by criminalising mind-altering substances has a long history; which has resulted in public health crises, mass incarceration of otherwise law-abiding citizens, immense black markets, violent drug gangs, deaths and even genocides. These are only few examples of the devastating and far-reaching consequences of the drug war.

Even the United Nations Office on Drug Control admits that international drug control has resulted in the creation of “a criminal black market of staggering proportions” which has become a fundamental threat to global security.

Criminalising drug use does not prevent its use, it just hands the market to criminals. Drugs sold have no age restrictions, no ingredient-labelling, no instructions and no health advice. Drugs created on the black market are notably impure, and it is never truly possible to know what you are buying.

Most of the health-risks can be directly attributed to the fact drugs are illegal. People who overdose do not seek medical help quickly enough due to the fear of the legal consequences. Substances are adulterated by dodgy dealers, and they are made in unsafe home-laboratories. People are poorly educated on how to safely use these substances and what the safe limits are.

Not only does the drug war have such severe repercussions – it has been a catastrophic failure. It has failed to eliminate drug-use. It has failed to eliminate the production and supply of drugs. It has failed to protect the health of the public. After many decades it has completely failed in achieving what it was supposedly meant to achieve.

The world is starting, slowly, to wake up to this issue. The number of countries liberalising drug laws is increasing, especially in regard to cannabis. In these countries where drug laws have been liberalised, drug use has not soared.

Portugal is one of the most prominent examples of succesful liberal drug laws. 15 years ago, Portugal decriminalised all drug use. As a result of this, they have made considerable financial savings, public health has improved, crime has dropped and there has been no significant increase in drug use.

Other notable examples include the Netherlands, the United States, Uraguay, Canada and Switzerland.

Alongside these more progressive countries, there are unfortunately 33 that have a death penalty for drug offences.

The war on drugs is ideology driven – it is an authoritarian policy, designed to ensure control over citizens. Any arguments to say the war on drugs is about health and public safety can be struck down by simply pointing out the staggering impurity of drugs created by dodgy, violent criminals.

It is in the interest in public health and safety to educate people about how to safely use these substances and to regulate the production and supply of these substances to ensure purity.

It is time the UK took a more rational, evidence-based approach to substance use – an inevitability, proven by even the harshest anti-drug policy’s inability to curb it. It is time the UK joined the ever-increasing number of countries that are reaping the benefits of more liberal drug laws.

It is time the UK took notice of how damaging the consequences of the black market are and joined other countries in championing an evidence-based approach to drug policy.

International Women’s Days – Let Us Celebrate Equality, Not Belittle It

feminismYousafzaiToday is International Women’s Day, a day for celebrating the women’s right movements and calling for further gender equality. This year’s theme is #BeBoldForChange, where people are encouraged to take a bold stand toward a more inclusive, equal world.

Achieving equality is of benefit to both men and women, and International Women’s Day isn’t just about women. It’s about celebrating gender equality, and celebrating the movement to help bring the genders closer together. Men (like myself) should be using this day to celebrate our sisters, mothers, daughters and friends. I also want to use this opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements and actions around the world and to highlight how gender equality helps men as well, but I hope you’ll excuse me an angry rant about self-titled ‘men’s rights activists’’ first.

With all this talk of equality, and women’s rights, it is no surprise that self-pitying men with victim complexes are hijacking this celebration of gender equality to cry “but what about me?” – It takes a special kind of attention-craving to get so upset about people other than you being celebrated, but let’s be honest who didn’t expect it?

Young, white males crying on the internet because they’re ‘oppressed’ by feminism has become so commonplace that it is entirely predictable. The anti-feminist rhetoric has spread like wildfire among “alt-right” trolls, and it never changes, it remains the same drivel that feminism is some form of attack on men.

There are very few words that express my disdain for the cry-babies who are so offended by the idea of an International Women’s Day, they hijack the cause to blubber nonsense about how attacked and oppressed they feel by others being celebrated.

When men cry about not having a Men’s Day on Women’s Day, they show that isn’t really the issue, because there is a Men’s Day and a 3 second google search would have told them that. They show they are angry because people other than them are being celebrated for a change.

This way of thinking is almost understandable; because while feminism is not an ‘attack on men’ – it is a direct attack to the bigoted views of these ‘alt-right’ trolls. It is a direct attack to the privileges they have come to expect. It is a direct attack on their bigoted views. It is a direct attack on them, and they fail to see that it is their own doing – so they cry oppression!

Feminism and gender equality is a huge help to men, and any men who want to live in a world where both genders have the same opportunities, should support the aim of getting women onto an equal playing field.

It is toxic views of masculinity and femininity that are a cause of many of the problems that men face because of their gender. It is outdated views on the motherly role of women that lead to unfair paternal struggles.

Men’s suicide rates are astronomical, considerably higher than women, and the cause of this is widely believed to be society’s view on men and masculinity. Crying and showing feelings is considered weak.

The push for equality of the sexes – feminism – is a fight against these toxic ideals of masculinity – for the benefit of both women who suffer under patriarchy, and the men who suffer under impossible ideals and expectations.

Enhancing the role of women does not belittle men, in fact it strengthens men! All men who truly care about society and fairness should understand that by not holding-back 50% of our society, we all benefit!

The fight for equality is far from over, and more can be done to ensure both men and women are on equal footing. By creating this ‘us vs them’ mentality, and portraying men as victims of man-hating feminists, so-called ‘men’s rights activists’ have pushed us backwards, and we must continue to fight their vile rhetoric.

We should use this day as an opportunity to celebrate all the strong women around the world, who have fought against sexism and bigotry to push forward real changes to society.

We should use this day to celebrate the fact women are leading at every level of society, from arts, to science, to business and politics.

We should use this day as an opportunity to celebrate all the women we care about, who considerably enrich our personal lives.

Finally, we should use this day to recognise that the fight is not over, we should recognise there is still much to be done in the fight for equality of both genders – and we should endeavour to do a little more to help remove the barriers women face in society.

Let us all take a stand against the anti-feminist rhetoric that threatens to push back decades of progress.

http://www.whydontwehaveaninternationalmensday.com/

Trump’s ‘Travel Ban’ Is a Ban on Muslims, Can We Stop Pretending It Isn’t?

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Much time had been spent considering the topic of my first blog post when the unlikely hero, Donald J. Trump, swooped in to provide me with a much needed story.

I’m of course talking about Trump recently deciding to continue with his ban on Muslims, even after the legal challenges and international outrage of his last attempt, by signing an updated executive order which bans entry to the United States by people from several Muslim-majority nations; Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Syria.

Let’s be clear right from the start, this is a Muslim ban. Many Trump supporters are claiming it is not, that it is a ban on people of specific nationalities deemed as threats to security (as if that kind of racial profiling is any better!) …

… but Trump himself promised a ban on Muslims as part of his election campaign!

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a TOTAL and COMPLETE SHUTDOWN of MUSLIMS entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on”

That seems pretty explicit to me! Yet some people are still confused by this!

Trump calls for a Muslim ban before being made president, where he then proceeds to do exactly as he said and people cry that he isn’t actually doing exactly what he said he would do…

Of course there are those bigoted racist xenophobes, who fully support this vile ban knowing it is a ban targeted directly at Islam, these people are abhorrent.

… but then there are the Trump supporters who don’t support a Muslim ban; I refuse to believe (out of a perhaps misplaced belief in humanity) that a majority of the 62,979,636 Americans that voted for Trump genuinely support a total and complete shutdown of Muslims.

So why, among very explicit and obvious calls for a Muslim ban, did these people vote for Trump? Why do they continue to defend his actions as anything other than the actions he himself promised?

I can only guess they either somehow did not know Trump had made these calls or they simply did not take him seriously because his campaign was so ridiculously bullshit it was difficult to tell if he was being serious half of the time… but let’s be clear, this is a ban targeted directly at Islam.

Not only did Trump himself promise a Muslim ban during his election campaign, and make his small-minded opinion of Muslims very clear, the only nations affected by this ‘travel ban’ are Muslim majority nations.

If it is about national security, and banning certain nationalities deemed “too risky”, why do many of the countries listed show no apparant threat to the United States aside from the percieved threat from their large Muslim populations?

Why are countries whose citizens have commited terror attacks on US soil not included in this ban? Such as the perpretators of the 9/11 attacks?

Donald Trump’s travel ban is a ban targeted towards Islam, as he himself promised to voters in his election campaign. This is what Trump voters voted for.