June 15th 2002

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: The future of Telstra

Has the PM been misled on stem cell research?

Nationals' survival depends on new agenda

EUTHANASIA: Nancy Crick - what is the real story?

TRADE: Philippines bananas could cost Australian Government millions

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Insider dopesters / Democracy at work / The new lonely crowd

MEDIA: ABC's left-liberal Twilight Zone

Handling the boat people issue (letter)

Small business and superannuation (letter)

Drug summit in Port Macquarie(letter)

Going to war over trade

LAW: ICC report tabled in Parliament

DRUGS: WA to go ahead with cannabis toleration

DOCUMENTATION: Archbishop George Pell rebuts '60 Minutes' allegations

CLONING: truth and the middle ground

OPINION: Can the GST be wound back?

EAST TIMOR: After the celebrations, reality dawns

ASIA: China convulses but won't collapse

BOOKS: 'American Muslims: The New Generation'

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Insider dopesters / Democracy at work / The new lonely crowd

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, June 15, 2002
The insider dopesters are back

It was not to be expected that those pushing for decriminalisation of narcotics, if necessary via a number of steps, each intrinsically deceitful - because already exposed as being either useless or harmful ... would accept, or even respect, the views of most Australians. Which were, and are, that narcotic drugs are harmful and cannot be decriminalised.

Thus ... as soon as the deaths from drug overdoses - which had stalled at five for months, rose to 13 - still very small compared with earlier mortality rates - I noticed the Melbourne Times running virtually a full page, with all the familiar names and "authorities", who were hyperactive when the big decriminalisation campaign was in full throat a few years ago.

They are back again. Producing the same arguments, ignoring the same statistics, urging the same fallacious nostrums.

There were few signs of countervailing critics, or counterfactual considerations of any kind - be they medical, psychological, or moral. In other words, more like an advertisement - for the sale or gift of hard drugs, some lethal, many irreversibly harmful. And with sponsors, and "authorities" as per usual.

Virtually all the pro-drug statements and drug conference bulletins that I have encountered have taken this format: advertisements for a product (and often misleading advertising at that). David Perrin's account of the AMA's national summit (News Weekly, June 1, 2002, page 8), told it all. The delegates backed a heroin trial, decriminalisation of existing illegal drugs, and saw cannabis as of medicinal value (better than chroming?). Karen Phelps, the AMA's chief, when asked if there was a safe level of recreational drug use, replied she did not know, but they were probably safe in the short-term, but may have long-term effects. (My italics).

Realising that medical research demonstrating presently illegal drugs have both short-term and long-term deleterious effects on health, often of an irreversible kind ... is now very well-known, what is one to say of the level of information of our doctors?

Remembering the increasingly close relations of many of our medicos to the giant legal drug companies, whose activities I am treating - purely for the sake of the argument - as bona fide, the attitudes, as stated, of our new style doctors towards illegal drugs, should help to fill out the current level of moral awareness and social conscience of the new archetypal Australian doctor. That is, for anyone who did not yet know.

We are also going to get, no matter what we or the people still trying to trade in the CBD may want - a clinic operating out of Melbourne's Collins Street Baptist Church, for drug addicts. Picking up the baton from the ill-fated Wesley Mission? As the Resident 3000 secretary, Russell Howard, asked, "Would it open as a health clinic, but evolve into a heroin injecting room?" If so, his residents, "would mount a mighty challenge."

A concatenation of doctors, nurses, and counsellors - no parson? - is to be recruited to deal with drug and alcohol addiction, sexually transmitted diseases and blood-borne viruses. Each and every one of these pathologies have institutions and facilities already treating such victims. This really is a case of having a dog and barking yourself. There is no demonstrable need for such duplicatory activities in the centre of town: rather a clear need for more churches which preach religion. (Unfashionable word?).

But at least there would appear to be no shortage of doctors or nurses; whereas we are often told there is. Probably a matter of economics. And there will be no shortage of customers if Victorian Attorney General Hulls can legitimise beggars. They will come in from everywhere, and the police are to be ordered "Hands Off". A drug pushers' charter?

Seeing that we are now part of Asia, it would be appropriate to consider twinning with Bangkok or Manila, rather than Palermo.

N.B. Whether there is any connection between the new rise in drug deaths and the "reorganisation" of our police drug squad, I do not know.

Democracy at work

Two friends of mine attempted to attend a meeting the other evening on the question of asylum seekers - to be addressed by Philip Ruddock, Andrew Bolt and Bob Birrell. One friend succeeded - but more of that later - the other could not break through the gangs of violent, abusive "protestors", a mere hundred, who were preventing all comers from entering freely.

Police, including mounted officers, were stationed between the demonstrators and the building where the meeting was to be held. (It had been switched from another venue to avoid the hooligans - but in vain).One friend, arriving an hour early, found his way barred by a mob; intimidating and hysterical. In fact, some of them were part of the regular gang who have been sullying our streets for a good five years. Calling themselves Socialists, Leftists, Greens - terms freely interchangeable and signifying nothing. The bond, at this stage, is hatred, and a barely controlled propensity for violence.

My first friend was abused, and eventually struck - so gave up trying to get to the meeting.

My second friend arrived nearer the time and linked up with a number of others also wishing to attend. He asked a leading police officer whether a way could be cleared for them, and it was, although the police, including police horses, came under immediate attack from the enraged mob. A narrow clearway was established so this group could run - and they advised by police to run for it - to a side door which was protected by other police (these were barring other demonstrators). In the course of running this gauntlet, my friend was kicked and fell, drawing blood.

The meeting went off safely - the subject being quite unexceptional, with Andrew Bolt, in particular, making a very powerful speech. But I had not been able to catch any reports of these speeches, including the Minister's. There was minimal coverage of the political and criminal hooliganism and no word of rebuke from the Police Minister or Premier Steve Bracks.

People were attacked, people's democratic rights aborted, citizens harassed and struck, and not a word of official reproof. But, of course if there were, there should also have to be criticism of union hooliganism, including as it does, the destruction of property and the blocking of roads and the attempted intimidation at a Royal Commission, and we know the State Government's servitude to the nastier unions.

So, our police and citizens are left to fend for themselves. Incidentally, among all the figures of crimes committed in Victoria in the previous year, I noticed 2000 assaults on the police. How much loyalty can we continue to expect from these men and women, given Labor and media attitudes?

Finally, my second friend, who has witnessed many demonstrations, considered the crowd the most violent, incoherently fanatical and lumpen that he has ever seen. This section of the Left, at least, is now in Pim Fortuyn country, with, as in Europe, some of our media not very far behind. Yet another bad night for Democracy.

The new lonely crowd

Gerard McManus (Herald Sun, May 26), produced some dismaying statistics of the piecemeal collapse of Australian marriage and the nuclear family - predictable and predicted. And the baneful consequences of the Family Law Act. And the Family Court's continuing gross imbalance, or is it myopia, in its oversight of the unfolding consequences of the original Act.

About 29 per cent of men and 25 per cent of women are unlikely to marry. In 1975, when the Act started operating, four per cent of women had not married by the age of 45. In 1996, more than one women in four had not married by 45. No doubt the 2001 Census figures will show a further shrinkage. In 1971, 62 per cent of women aged between 20 and 24 were married; in 1997, only 13 per cent.

The drop in our birth rate is easily traceable at least in part to this no marriage, no children pattern. As Christopher Pearson pointed out recently, the 100,000 yearly abortions in Australia very nearly equal our net migration intake. We are in fact in the business of engineering an ageing population.

Perhaps the most sobering information, to which McManus draws attention, is that more and more men are opting for "no strings attached" relationships - be they married commitments, or long-term de facto ones. They are choosing casual relationships where there are no commitments, no offspring, and no danger of long-term financial loss from divorce. It is this last which is the most obvious outcome of the Family Law Act; made far worse by successive judicial interpretations.

As Family Law reform campaigner, Sylvia Smith, says, "Why should a young man with a lucrative career, risk losing 70-80 per cent of his assets by getting married? Property settlements are meant to be 50/50 but in the majority of cases the result is more like 80/20 towards women."

And perhaps as few as 10 per cent of divorced fathers manage to maintain regular contact with their children. But referring to the statistics produced by McManus, Sylvia Smith's reaction was, "I think it is wonderful than men are starting to wake up."

Yes ... I suppose it is wonderful, for the young men, for their chances - statistically speaking - of having careers and economic prospects upturned in mid-passage are quite high. But, perhaps, not so wonderful for the children not to be born, the women who might otherwise have had a chance to marry, and the families which never happen.

More and more people are coming to realise, or remember, that a system of intact families is a necessary, and possibly sufficient condition for there to be a "society". As against a "mass", and I for one now believe that the term "mass society" doesn't apply to anything at all.

The family is, as Christopher Lasch put it in a book of the same name, "a haven in a heartless world". He also wrote one called The Culture of Narcissism, and the two just about sum up the situation. For narcissism has turned out to be one of the most destructive factors in undermining marriage - not to mention parenting, enduring friendships, loyalty and many other virtues beside.

Naturally, Lasch encountered orchestrated abuse and intellectual and academic isolation for his views, at the hands of the politically correct of America: the charge being led by the radical feminists.

Then there were the figures published in People and Place by Bob Birrell and colleagues, revealing that 50 per cent of Australian males aged between 25 and 44 are now living alone or with other men. Half of the group have been previously married.

Presumably, a similar number of Australian women have never married or are divorced - although the 25-44 age parameters would be different. Another difference is that many of these women will have children sired by former husbands or by a de facto companion.

This is not Kornhauser's "Mass Society", but David Riesman's "Lonely Crowd". Our situation dates from the Family Law Act, and the triumph of the moral and legal philosophy underlying it. The people initiating this revolution still support its basic philosophy; and intend to continue operating by it, no matter what the consequences. Like all revolutionaries and misanthropes. And they treat and intend to continue treating critics of their work and those seeking reform, as Christopher Lasch was treated. But critics and those demanding reform of this abominable social situation have no option other than redouble their efforts.

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TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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