Monday, June 20, 2011

Mull This

THERE ARE a few, just a few, positives to the dull business of running down life’s clock. Plenty of time for weekday golf, that is one of them, as is the barber’s unsolicited offer of a senior’s discount. And the right to review memories of an earlier life without guilt or shudders of remorse -- that certainly needs to be mentioned because it is by far the brightest candle on an otherwise grey and unpalatable cake.

At a distance of years and decades, memory has the decency to present the missteps of long ago in the merciful third person. Yes, it really was a young Professor who went over the back fence as the Drug Squad came in the front door, but those two hours spent cowering in a neighbour’s outhouse bring a smile these days, not the cold shivers of terror which made that summer afternoon so memorable. The winces of later life spring not from the knowledge of a career and reputation jeopardized, nor even the sound of a co-cultivator getting a good and vigorous slapping from one of Detective Inspector Kyte-Powell’s prohibition agents . If there is sadness, it is prompted only by thoughts of a primo crop being uprooted just as it was heading. What a lovely ketch those profits would have bought! What a crew of bare-breasted hippy nymphs might have decorated the cockpit on that planned voyage to Tahiti and beyond.

And guilt? Well, there was none then and less now. Had it been a meth lab in the back yard, that would today be a source of shame. But a quarter hundredweight-or-so of finest Fitzroy buds, there was no harm in that, other than that which the herb’s purchasers would have shouldered knowingly and entirely of their own accord. It was apparent then, and moreso now, that there is a fundamental injustice in denying individuals the right to make of their lives what they will, even if it be nothing more than wreckage. And illegal drugs, they do have their benefits. There is a definite streak of truth, for example, in the old saw that many libertarian conservatives began their journeys to enlightenment not with Hayek in hand but with a bong.

Older gentlemen, even those who shoot under 100, are entitled to their reveries, but this post is no mere trip down memory lane. Rather, it is a word of encouragement for a young fellow who has had a dreadful start in life and whose fortunes, he must surely be telling himself, last year took a disastrous turn. His name is Rory O’Gorman, who dropped from Lee Rhiannon’s loins some 32 years ago and was last year incarcerated after being lumbered in his Bondi home with 7 kilograms of dope and $120,000 in cash.

Let us not be too hard on the lad, who may well be his family’s redeemer. Three generations of his antecedents have looked to Marx and central planning for a better world, but not Rhiannon’s little lad. Somehow, in that multi-generational tangle of bright Red bloodlines, a little wisp of entrepreneurial DNA survived all those renditions of the Internationale, eventually to blossom. Rory’s mad mum raves about government as the source of good, and she dreams of the day when even greater levels of legislated coercion will be available to keep the proles in a state of officially approved happiness. Rory -- and may the Great Bunyip bless him for this – saw a market opportunity and took it.

Hope springs eternal because, where profit and personal betterment are concerned, it really is eternal.

(*Do click the link and scan to page 30, where you will find a quaint summation of drug abuse in Victoria, circa 1970. Four decades later, and with countless billions of dollars having been squandered on the unwinnable war on drugs, drug abuse is endemic, organized crime has prospered and prohibition has been proven, yet again, to be an expensive folly. It is no endorsement of drug use to observe that marijuana, at the very least, needs to be legalised. Rather, it is a vote for the blindingly obvious.)


  1. Just wondering if you've ever seen this, Theodore Dalrymple's thoughts on the subject, which make sense to me, much more sense than, forgive me, the rather facile libertarian argument that you make:

  2. It was in the 1970s that one Black Jack of Clifton Hill cultivated a splendid crop of Happy Havelock in his back yard. He tended to it lovingly: pruning, fertilising and even singing to his 50-odd plants. Alas, just as the crop became ready for harvest, Jack arrived home from his toil to find his yard stripped bare. Nary a bud or a leaf survived. Sadly, Jack elicited little sympathy at the local taproom. It's probably not the wisest horticultural venture to raise a crop of wacky baccy not 50 feet from the railway line and visible to all manner of deviant types from the northern suburbs and the hippy hills.

  3. Young Rory might have decided to make a modest killing before his mad mum takes over the Government on July 1 and buggers the market by legalizing all kinds of beneficial and desirable substances.

  4. Seal writes nicely. Did everyone write that well in the olden days?

  5. Mr Lefroy,

    The "facile libertarian argument" which you claim the honoured Bunyip makes is, at the very least, comprehensible, quite to the point and fundamentally just.

    Your Mr Dalrymple, on the other hand, only succeeds in proving the point that true, you don't always need drugs to have fun, or in his case to attain a state of blubbering semi-coherence. His silly imagined scenarios, false and ludicrous analogies, unprovable predictions, simplistic observations and the old slippery slope warnings are yet another rickety defense of a dysfunctional and increasingly unsustainable status quo.

  6. Dalrymple's piece is characteristically robust, but fails logically and factually, starting with the first sentence: "There is a progression in the minds of men: first the unthinkable becomes thinkable, and then it becomes an orthodoxy whose truth seems so obvious that no one remembers that anyone ever thought differently."

    This is a masterfully tendentious misrepresentation of reality. Calling legalisation "unthinkable" neatly sets it up as insane. Yet before the wave of prohibitionism around the 1920s, the legalisation of drugs was not merely "thinkable", it was a fact. Drugs were legal. All of them.

    As was the prohibition of alcohol, the prohibition of drugs is a stupid, puritanical experiment with obvious and appalling consequences.

  7. Sorry Lefroy but although Dalrymple can reason and write well, I am with the Professor on this one.
    Theodore Dalrymple writes of methadone, heroin, crack, LSD and guzzling so much booze you bring on incontinence, he then looks at marijuana. This is like reasoning we have dynamite, sawn off shot guns, Semtex, hand grenades, Exocet missiles and atomic bombs which can all do us damage and we would be better off if we could live without them, we also have firecrackers and they're all explosives.
    It's not a facile libertarian argument, we are not declaring " that allowing people to take whatever they like is the obvious answer" only that to bother with marijuana is morally wrong, sure it's a pointless pastime and like firecrackers if you are stupid enough and reckless enough, you can like most substances harm yourself and perhaps others. The truth remains that consumers of marijuana are overwhelming law abiding in every respect except breaking the prohibition associated with marijuana and getting a Police record.

  8. "The truth remains that consumers of marijuana are overwhelming law abiding in every respect except breaking the prohibition associated with marijuana and getting a Police record."

    Your evidence for that tendentious statement?

  9. Lefroy, statistics will do the job; here you will find that "among persons aged between 18 and 29 years one in four had used marijuana/cannabis in the previous 12 months.", that means 25% are breaking the law in respect of prohibition, now of course law breaking percentages (i.e. crimes committed) never match crime statistics but they are directly related. If persons in this age bracket were not law abiding in every other respect, the crime figures for this demographic would be through the roof as 1 in every 4 of them would be committing some other type of crime! Clearly it's quite possible to choof a few bongs without going crazy and still manage a career in Etruscan Semiotics.

  10. So you're the one who locked himself in my outside toilet whilst the missus had the runs from drinking Southwark Bitter, and couldn't get into the loo?
    God, that was funny. We still larf about it.
    Well, I do, since she ran off with the accountant years ago.