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Daily Archives: June 15, 2008

Interesting and different blog — commendable entry

ICBauthors Not a blog — linked to the picture — I visit often, except through BlogExplosion, but I have to say I was taken with a recent entry by Steven Long — among other things he is editor of Texas Horse Talk Magazine.

You see, my own view is that the recent decision of the US Supreme Court goes some way towards restoring the credibility of the United States as a country that actually supports the values it is allegedly defending.

Steven Long’s post (Ladies and Gentlemen, The Supremes!) begins:

Let’s face it, I’m as terrified of Islamic extremists as the next guy. I saw those buildings come down in New York, saw the people jumping out of them to escape the fire, heard the thud as their bodies hit the roof as I watched on live television. I have friends who saw the horror happen live. I want to see the people responsible for the death of innocents on September 11, 2001, suffer for what they did to America.
But I want them to stand trial.
When George Bush and Congress suspended the right [to] have a writ of habeas corpus heard in a U.S. court for the “enemy combatants” held at Guantanamo during the past six years I had a visceral reaction. My knee jerked violently, and I probably had another twitch or two here and there. You just don’t tamper with fundamental law, certainly not law that has served us well since the Magna Carta of 1215.
So important was this right to appeal illegal imprisonment to the framers, they incorporated it in Article 1, Section 9 of the United States Constitution. It’s called the Suspension Clause. It reads, “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.”
And that’s the rub. George Bush and a Congress that probably knew better but wouldn’t stand up to a then strong president, passed a series of laws that held men without trial indefinitely.

He concludes:

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I like a wine with a meal and an occasional beer…

… but I am well aware that alcohol is by any reasonable definition a drug: “A drug, broadly speaking, is any chemical substance that, when absorbed into the body of a living organism, alters normal bodily function.”  So too are nicotine and caffeine. Whether a drug is legal or illegal is another matter entirely.

The evidence is, I think, quite clear that alcohol and nicotine are the most costly drugs Australia has in terms of health and harm to society. It can be argued, more controversially perhaps, that the greatest problems created by all the other drugs are caused as much by, or even more by, their illegality than they are by any properties or effects those drugs may have — not that I am arguing their harmlessness of course. Our embrace of substances like ice, cocaine, heroin, or even marijuana which itself while not harmless is no more harmful than alcohol or nicotine, is a sad commentary on our society. Certainly most other drugs are made worse in their effects by the co-presence of alcohol, and few would doubt the implication of alcohol in much violence, road death, domestic unhappiness, and criminal behaviour.

Culturally we are used to alcohol, and it is true that for many people alcohol can be a fairly benign drug. I am a drug user myself. I usually don’t abuse alcohol, but I certainly have in the past. I also have to admit that the drinking habits revealed on the recent Four Corners on the subject are quite disturbing, and we all know of the devastating effects — because they are so obvious — that booze has had on the Indigenous population. What is not so often acknowledged in that regard is that proportionally the non-Indigenous part of the Northern Territory population abuse alcohol more than does the Indigenous part**. What is also not recognised is that the devastating effects of alcohol on all sectors — except for those like practising Muslims who don’t use it — are just as real, though less noticed because they occur in circumstances that are less public and/or more affluent.

So we now have a new definition of binge drinking.

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