Who cares about Kevin: Nick Rowbotham

Can Kevin Rudd win the election on September 7? Who knows, and in some ways, who cares. There are more important questions, like: why is ecstasy so expensive in Australia?

And why would you risk attempting to smuggle drugs into a festival when no less than 282 people were caught in possession of them at Splendour in the Grass?

And what’s the deal with synthetic drugs?

You’ll find an answer to the latter three questions in this edition of Honi, though sadly, we won’t even speculate on the election, because, well, you can read about it in any other newspaper.

It’s become clearer than ever in the last few years that the media has immense power in driving the trajectory of public opinion. Rudd’s resurrection has been so farcically pedaled and, ultimately, celebrated by elements of the media that coverage of politics often feels less real than reality television – perhaps a trite metaphor, but what better way is there to describe it?

And while the Fairfax papers beg for and hail the return of the lord and saviour of the Labor party in editorials and Peter Hartcher op-eds, the loony right implores us to ‘Kick this mob out’ on the front page of its tabloids.

It’s no wonder we can’t have a sensible conversation about issues like recreational drug use or the criminalisation of relatively harmless drugs like ecstasy.

Of course, the tired and emotionally charged drug legalisation debate resurfaces occasionally and, even more rarely, the media have something insightful and reality-based to say about the subject. The Age ran a quite excellent piece late last year that, amongst other expert analysis, cited a comprehensive British drug study that concluded that MDMA causes almost no harm to the user or society.

But taboos, by their very nature, will remain taboos unless we constantly challenge the unenlightened fear mongering and moralising that perpetuates them.

Yearning for the media to cover ‘real issues’ is one of the catch cries du jour in this age of personality politics, and it is undoubtedly tinged with a naïve elitism.

But what are we to do in a world where governments ban potentially dangerous synthetic drugs that exist only by virtue of the criminality of the safer substances they are intended to mimic? Or, as you can read in our feature, a world where the 3D printing of guns is banned but you can still buy an assault rifle at Walmart.

Illogic is everywhere, and the media won’t necessarily call it out for us, it’s up to you.

Nick Rowbotham

Nick Rowbotham

Nick Rowbotham is an editor of Honi Soit. He writes, edits, and drops subjects frequently.
Nick Rowbotham

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