Author Archives: Mark Wright

We should be sceptical of news, even when we agree

Some may have been surprised to read recently that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved three trials of MDMA to treat post-traumatic stress disorder – the final phase of validation required to turn the “dance drug” into a legal medicine. Surprised, probably, because we have been repeatedly told for over two decades that MDMA is a very dangerous drug and that “there is no such thing as a ‘safe dose’”. Doctors would surely never give a dangerous drug with no safe dose to someone just to aid therapy, so what’s going on here?

It has been known since the 1970s that MDMA had some potential in psychotherapy, but almost all research and testing on the drug was halted when it was globally criminalised in the mid-1980s. But the story of how we got to a place where MDMA is “Class A” (the most dangerous drugs) is a sorry story of misleading experiments, politicised research, biased scientific endeavour, wilful distortion of facts, and – most importantly – the silence of the scientific and medical establishments in the face of obvious manipulation of the truth.

Nearly all research on MDMA since the 1980s has been funded by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) or its predecessors. Its very name – “drug abuse” – gives away the goal of the organisation, which is to provide the evidence backing for politicians to promote the “War on Drugs”. In that goal it has been hugely influential.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 13 Comments

Paris – no knee-jerk responses, but no cop-outs either

The worst terrorist attack in western Europe for a decade has left us all feeling numb. Our thoughts go out to the bereaved and injured. But inevitably our minds look to the consequences. What we must avoid is any knee-jerk responses. Two such responses we must avoid are: first, a rush by governments to remove yet more of our hard-won freedoms; and second, a rush to close our borders to refugees coming from the Middle East.

Our freedoms of speech, expression and religion, and our rights to privacy and to live our lives as we want were hard won over many centuries and we must defend the honour of those who fought and sometimes died to secure them for us. When it comes to refugees from the Middle East, the first thing we should remember is that this type of horrific slaughter is exactly what the refugees are fleeing from. The terror we saw in Paris should make us more acutely understanding of why the refugees are fleeing, because attacks like this have been going on in Syria and Iraq now for a decade.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 39 Comments

Tim Farron is right: Osama Bin Laden’s death was not a tragedy

Tim Farron was widely quoted on Monday, for perhaps the first time since his election as leader. The good news is that he was correct in his point. He was responding to a resurfaced quote from Labour leadership favourite, Jeremy Corbyn, who has said to Iranian TV that Bin Laden’s death was “a tragedy”, as it was unlawful and he should have been put on trial instead.

That the killing of Bin Laden was illegal has been a favourite proposition of the Galloway-ite hard left, so it isn’t a surprise to see them jump up and defend Corbyn. But I was surprised to see a few serious liberals, including Paddy Ashdown in the past, also voice this and criticise Tim for his intervention.

Their premise is that Bin Laden was a common criminal, and thus “due process” should have been followed, with him legally arrested and brought to trial. But this view is based on a foundation that is both legally dubious, and naive in practicability.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 86 Comments

Opinion: Labour’s unfinished business on ‘Religious hatred’

 

On the penultimate Saturday before the General Election, the Labour Party made a fairly startling policy announcement that was hardly noticed by the media: “Labour would outlaw Islamophobia”, said Ed Miliband in an interview. At first glance, that doesn’t seem like a scary announcement – I mean, Islamophobia is a bad thing, right?

Unfortunately, it’s much more complex than that.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 44 Comments

Opinion: ‘Cultural appropriation’ – a horrible concept from progressives

 

A phrase progressives increasingly use in debate about language, behaviour, traditions, is ‘cultural appropriation’. The form is typically: “they shouldn’t do that, it’s cultural appropriation.” The basis is that a culture, race, or nation, can ‘own’ an idea, style, word, or language – and that others shouldn’t ‘appropriate’ it. The implication is that cultural appropriation is bad, and that if something involves cultural appropriation then it, too, is bad.

Let’s start at the beginning: without cultural appropriation most of us would still be living naked in caves. Rewind history and consider how detrimental to humanity it would be without cultural appropriation.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 38 Comments

Opinion: Deliberately offending people might be necessary

I’ve been pretty disappointed in the reaction of progressives to the aftermath of the Paris massacre, in particular the debate over satirical imagery of Mohammed. A fair few progressives are saying that it’s wrong to publish such satire, because it’s known that it will offend people, and deliberately offending people is wrong. This initially sounds like a reasonable position, but as a progressive it disappoints me for two reasons.

The first reason is that just a few weeks ago, many of these same people were arguing in exactly the opposite direction:

a) a mother was breastfeeding in public and was given a …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 117 Comments

Opinion: Devil in disguise, new drug, same old lies

There’s another new drug in town, and the System is being cranked up to counter its insidious spread. This drug is increasingly popular among the young, who consider it exotic and often try it when abroad. It’s called “The Devil in Disguise” in government propaganda, because of its supposedly devastating health effects – just one session of this drug is equivalent to smoking 100-200 cigarettes, so say the “experts”, and it can even harm nearby children.

What is it? Well, it’s the shisha water pipe (“hookah”), with tobacco. There is growing anti-shisha propaganda around, which I don’t have a problem with …

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 6 Comments
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  • User AvatarPaul 24th Oct - 7:34am
    There is a Liberal response to finding decades old social media posts never intended for public consumption. The thing is I don't think this is...
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    There can be no excuse for agents of the state to have used violence against people queuing up to vote. The people were justified if...
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    Glenn I do agree on the economics and policies. But not the acting. Kings Row was more than you say, but am glad you see...
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    Catalonia produces a fifth of Spain's wealth. My advice to the Spanish government is to suggest another referendum, free and fair and independently monitored.
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    I cringe at the ideas, both of Universal Basic Services and Universal Basic Income. They are top-down, paternalistic, reductionist ideas which offend my Lib Dem...