Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Herald-Sun and It’s Readers Hit a New Low

News Ltd. Newspapers like The Daily Telegraph, The Courier Mail and the Adelaide Advertiser are notorious for producing some of the worst journalism in Australia but this week, the Herald-Sun hit a new low. 

What does a Herald-Sun journalist do when he stumbles across a young overdose victim being cared for by his friends? Chip in and help? Enquire about an ambulance? Pester the friends for a story? 

The victim’s friends were in obvious distress but that didn’t stop Herald-Sun journalist, Aaron Langmaid from getting his story. Like some deranged parrot, he repeatedly quizzed the frantic carers if the victim had taken GHB. Five times in five seconds in fact. Eventually, one person snapped back, “I don’t know!”

What’s he actually had? Was it G? What else? What else has he had? Has he had G? How much G did he have?

How long ago did he have it?

When did you last speak to him … Like in the club? How long ago? Like 20 minutes? 

How old is he?

And on it went. 

Langmaid is a disgrace and sadly, typical of the News Ltd ‘ambulance chaser’ mentality. Langmaid, himself described the situation as ‘frantic’ and that ‘a young life hangs in the balance’ but that didn’t stop him from his selfish pursuit of a story. Were his demanding questions appropriate while a man lie dying in front of his friends? Did he really have to push those attending the victim so hard for an immediate answer? And why didn’t he wait until the ambulance arrived before interfering with a potentially fatal overdose? This was appalling behaviour for a journalist with a major newspaper.

Trash media like the Herald-Sun are experts at this style of dog whistle journalism. Stories about street crime, celebrity meltdowns and welfare cheats attracts a certain type of audience and the Murdoch press really know their market. And like a Mecca for rednecks; racists, bogans and right-wing nutters coming running when there’s a chance to spill some vile on those often deemed as “low-lifes” or “oxygen thieves”.

“Dole bludgers” and “boat people” might be a popular target for most of the Herald-Sun hate squad but the real prize for attracting loonies are drug users and dealers. And nothing highlights this more than the article in question. The reader’s comments section was full of derogative, vile put-downs aimed at the overdose victim and anyone related to drugs. Druggies, as most readers liked to call them were also referred to as ‘idiots’ 27 times. ‘stupid’ 13 times and fools 11 times. Other endearing names include junkies, scum of the earth, the scourge of society, overdosed dogs, drug-addled useless parasites, lowest of the low, indulgent idiots, drop-kicks, excreta, self-inflicted drones, cashed-up tools, brain dead morons, slime balls, ferals[sic] and even buggers.

Drug addicts are the lowest of the low. They don't deserve any more help than they are already getting. If they can't handle their own situation properly then don't expect assistance from anyone else. I can understand that its ruined people's families but this is getting ridiculous. I'm sick of hearing about these kinds of incidents...its their own faults no one elses.

It’s not just the name calling that makes these readers so disgusting but something more sinister. There were literally dozens of comments that proudly called for people overdosing to be left on the street to die. 

Just let them OD and die I reckon, less buyers means less demand means less drugs. Simple but effective.
-The Warden of Williamstown

What sort of person thinks like this? What drives someone to make such malicious comments in a public forum about strangers? Have we, as a society really sunken this low? 

Here's a thought. Leave the overdosed dogs in the gutters where they fall and concentrate on helping good, honest humans.
-Serge of Melb

The Herald-Sun holds a family day picnic for it’s readers
A big part of it seems to be modern conservative ideology. There were plenty of readers blaming a lack of personal responsibility and a diminishing standard of morals. Fine, they are welcome to their views but spewing out hateful demands for people overdosing to be left to die is bordering on derangement. 

One quick way to fix this problem is for Ambo's to fail to respond to overdoses. At what point will the wider community accept that these drug users MAKE A CONSCIOUS DECISION to use drugs. Why should it be up to US (again) to be responsible for the actions of others. Police will NEVER stop the drug problem - it's been around for centuries. On top of that USERS don't get charged by Police anymore - Christine Nixon pitted the little darlings, stating a drug OD was a 'medical' problem & Police were instructed not to charge them with 'using' drugs... Let all that OD die from the OD. Then these idiots might thing twice about using - bonus will be the Ambo's can then have time to attend REAL medical emergencies.
-Fed Up of Berwick

What is it with modern conservatives and their lack of compassion? A recent study from the London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience found that those with strong conservative views have less grey matter in a part of the brain related to understanding complexity than liberal minded people. The study also concluded that a conservative’s brain is bigger in the section linked to fear.

People living in fear will understandably see more threats everywhere because they are looking for them, and will lash out violently at any provocation while those analyzing the big picture are busy sorting complex details. While slower to retaliate, Liberals are compelled to explore options that might be difficult but necessary.

So, conservatives have a unique brain that can’t process complex matters as well as the general population? And they are fearful of what most people deem fixable. I must say that I’m not really surprised at this information considering the reader’s comments from the Herald-Sun article. Conservative ideology is a destructive force and it unnecessarily divides many communities on important social issues. Throw in some self absorbed religious types and you have a dangerous combination.

I cannot have a lot of sympathy, as a person who has had to deal with the squalor and desperation of drug abuse in people I know. Self respect, my faith and my upbringing helped me to never go down that path (or even contemplate it) but the sorts of morals (yes, social engineers, I know it is a dirty word) approved of today are selfish, Left-wing and all about seeming and self-gratification. mental illness is not treated seriously enough, drug pushers are not dealt with harshly enough, and police are wasted on traffic duties and gay-pride marches. The bulk of the citizenry are being conned by a few do-gooders who want to further aid this deadly trade and the people who choose to use the drugs.

Apart from the standard anti-drug rhetoric, there is a glaring contradiction in the mentioned article. The underlying message from the Herald-Sun is the need for tougher drug laws and and more public messages like, “mmm … drugs are bad … OK”. There is even a loaded poll under the scary heading, Drug Crisis. It asks readers the leading question, Should there be greater policing and tougher penalties to eliminate drugs on our streets? Of course, over 75% of readers voted yes. But the article included several opinions that contradict the newspaper’s position.

You can't win this war. Part of the reason drugs are so popular is because they are illegal. If illicit substances are regulated you create a space where users know what they are getting. Let’s have a discussion about a national drugs policy.'

Even champions of Zero Tolerance like the Catholic Church chipped in.

Catholic Care chief executive Fr Joe Caddy said drug use had to be treated as a health issue rather than through the criminal justice system. "In some cases we would still need the authority of the courts but part of the solution is teaching users - and their friends and family - how to manage the situation,'' he said.

And of course, Les Twentyman.

He told that law and order was not going to stop the city's soaring drug problems.
"At the end of the day we can't stop it. Even when the police announce that they are going to be at rock concerts they still take the drug. The law and order part is certainly not a deterrent," he said.
Mr Twentyman said European schemes where drugs are tested for revellers before they take them should be considered.

"What they do in Europe is when people come in to buy drugs they test the drugs for them so they know exactly what they're getting."

"Maybe that needs to be looked at here, it's been a success."

If you had accidentally stumbled onto the Herald-Sun article from another country, you may be forgiven for thinking that Australians are nasty, hysterical twats. Just the initial video showing a ruthless, disrespectful reporter should be enough to trigger some serious questions. And then there’s the loaded poll with such a leading question. But it’s the reader’s comments that would leave you with no doubt. For example:

Let these fools die. Death penalty for sellers no matter how big or small. Jail for users.

And this.

People who take so called "recreational drugs" should not be given any treatment. Let them die. Maybe then the message will get through. Why should they be clogging up our health resources and a bonus would be a drop in crime.
-cazy of everywhere

But there’s always a lighter side to everything.

Apparently, drugs is what it's all about these days. This is what I was told by an inside source. You go to clubs, you do drugs. Just close the clubs down. The fewer places for these dogs to pack in, the better.
-Anthony B of Melbourne

Anthony, thanks to you and your ‘inside source’, for sharing that very important piece of information. Have you informed the Australian Federal Police?

Maybe some readers just have too much time on their hands. Especially in this instance:

Punish all three involved! User first offence, minimum $1k fine, and public humiliation. Publicly name them, and put them in public stocks for 12 hrs a day very wknd for 3 mths, and ban them from drugs & alcohol for 1 yr. Subsequent offences lock them up for min of 3 yrs. in special community service goals, that required manual labour, no concurrent sentencing. Drug dealers, no matter age, should face a minimum 15 years, before eligible for parole, with a maximum of never to be released for third, or subsequent offence. Finally, clubs, organised dance parties, other commercial activities, what ever, a $10k fine for each, and every addict who is, or was found to be on their premises. I say 'was', because the bouncers, rather than move this sick individual to a safe location, put him in a car. The fine should be $250k for each dealer caught, other than those they hand over with suitable proof to Police, and $500k fine if the Police raid, and only find drugs on the floor. Companies running these venues should have to put up a $mill Bond to cover potential fines, and replenish it if used, before being able to do business.

Some suggest that more education about the consequences of drug use is a possible solution. I agree, we need more education … like basic writing skills.

and while he lies in the gutter with self inflicted wounds,honest people who need an ambulance are waiting,dieing because of his choices,illegal choices.Let a few die,it is their choice to ignor the law and education on drugs.they are just a scourge on decent society
-Eric of Melbourne

Herald-Sun reader Robynne says ...
"Why woulod a government condone drug taking?"
Yes, education might just be the key.  

The Gillard goes all out to spend millions on anti smoking advertising,tells us what to drink ,what to eat ,BUT GIVES THE GREEN LIGHT TO ILLICIT DRUGS,SUPPLIES SHOOTING GALLERIES SO ADDICTS DON'T OVER DOSE,gives them free methodone,LIQUID HEROIN,WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE ??WHY WOULOD A GOVERNMENT CONDONE DRUG TAKING ??
-ROBYNNE morton of merrimac

See what happens when you leave school before your 12th birthday. BTW, what is a ‘Gillard’? And I might be wrong but did the reader misspell their own name?

But amongst the riff-raff there was a beacon of hope. This from Molly of Melbourne:

For those who don't know, GHB was originally designed as an anaesthetic, thus, falling unconcious from it isn't an "overdose", it's doing what the drug was designed for. Secondly, it's a naturally occurring substance in the body, it's much healthier to have GHB than most other drugs. There is a big problem in Melbourne with people taking too much and clubs calling ambulances, but there is a much bigger Australia wide drinking problem. Where are the stats about how many people die from GHB? The number is minuscule, and it's usually because the user has combined a bunch of drugs, not because of GHB toxicity. The chance of death from it is about the same as it is for someone who's passed out from alcohol, the main reason for death? Choking on vomit, but they don't like to add that factor in. I'm not saying we should ignore the problem, but don't dramatist it, look after your mates, make sure they're in the recovery position if they do "blow out" and try to educate them when they're awake on safe use. You can't stop people taking drugs, but you can help make it safer.
-Molly of Melbourne

The display of ignorance, aggression and malevolence from some readers was almost bordering on schadenfreude. There were so many comments that were just downright nasty and totally unnecessary as well as many opinions based on nothing but limited, misguided views. I can’t help but ask myself if this is the consensus in Australia or is it just the result of dog whistle journalism. Maybe it’s just pack mentality from a small group of uneducated, arrogant rednecks? I like to think of Australia as a fairly accepting society especially considering we like to portray ourselves as a “fair go” nation. Sadly, I think the self imposed image of barracking for the underdog or being the “fair go” nation is championed mostly by the very readers who made many of the horrible comments. I picture many of them being draped in the Australian flag reminiscent of the Cronulla riots in NSW. Hopefully, this is not the real Australia but a country made up of multiple cultures, strong beliefs in equality and a willingness to listen to reason.

And on a final note, you can’t go past this apt comment with it’s compelling advice.

Just for once, people of Melbourne & Australia, can I implore you, just for once in your lives, to refrain from making comment on issues that you know next-to-nothing about. Plus, just because your cousin, ten of your Facebook friends or your co-worker's former nanny had problems with drugs, it doesn't make you an 'expert' - FACT. So now that we have that established, pls click on the link below and begin the process of developing insight:

Overdose Footage Sparks New Drugs Debate
Aaron Langmaid & Anne Wright
April 2011

HARROWING footage of an overdose victim sprawled on a city footpath in the middle of the day has sparked nationwide debate.

Closing Melbourne's seedy daytime dance clubs and legalising illicit drugs were among suggestions.

Despite campaigning on a plan to clean up Melbourne's streets, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle would not comment on the issue yesterday.

The owner of the nightclub involved said the victim's friends had demanded to be let out of the venue as he lapsed into unconsciousness.

Tramp owner Matt Giles said staff urged the group to wait for an ambulance but they were told to carry him on to the street.

"We didn't want to let him go,'' he said.

"We told them 'you're not taking him home'.

"But they demanded to be let out.''

The 20-year-old had been conscious while inside. It was the first GHB-related case he had seen at the venue in five years.

"We judge it case by case but it's tough for us,'' he said.

Australian Lawyers Alliance director Greg Barnes said it was time to discuss a federal policy of decriminalisation.

"You can't win this war,'' Mr Barnes said. 

"Part of the reason drugs are so popular is because they are illegal. If illicit substances are regulated you create a space where users know what they are getting,'' he said.

"Let's have a discussion about a national drugs policy.''

Catholic Care chief executive Fr Joe Caddy said drug use had to be treated as a health issue rather than through the criminal justice system.

"In some cases we would still need the authority of the courts but part of the solution is teaching users - and their friends and family - how to manage the situation,'' he said.

The footage captured by the Herald Sun also attracted a huge response from readers.

"The fact the (victim) was at a 'night' club at 11 in the morning says it all,'' said Lance, of Melbourne.

"Having these places open until this time promotes the use of drugs. How else can someone last the distance without drugs. Open them earlier and close them at 3am.''
In graphic scenes, a 20-year-old man is hauled from a nightclub at 11am on Sunday as families stroll past seemingly unaware a young life hangs in the balance.

The video showing paramedics battling to revive him highlights the drugs epidemic, with 9000 overdoses a year putting enormous strain on emergency services.

Premier Ted Baillieu, who viewed the Herald Sun video, said the anti-drugs message was not getting through to young people.

"This is a parent's worst nightmare," Mr Baillieu said. "It is shocking footage, it's real, it's evil."

Friends of the victim are clearly frantic after bouncers carry him unconscious from Tramp bar on King St.

The Herald Sun witnessed staff waiting with the man inside the venue door for more than 10 minutes before he was carried across the footpath and into a waiting car.

He remained unconscious until paramedics arrived but his friends confirmed he had taken the liquid drug gammahydroxybutrate, or GHB.

"I don't know how much he's taken or when he took it," one cried.

An Ambulance Victoria spokesman later confirmed an advance life support team - and even a fire brigade unit - had been called to treat the suspected overdose victim.

Youth worker Les Twentyman said Melbourne's drug problem has been on the rise for some time, and needed to be addressed.

He told that law and order was not going to stop the city's soaring drug problems.

"The ambos told me recently that they had noticed they were attending more of these types of incidents," he said.

"The scene is just awash with drugs."

Mr Twentyman said the party drug scene appeared to affect middle class youngsters the most because they could afford to be in the clubs and buying drugs.

"At the end of the day we can't stop it. Even when the police announce that they are going to be at rock concerts they still take the drug. The law and order part is certainly not a deterrent," he said.

"They'll just shop around and one day it's heroin, another day it's amphetamines or whatever pills they can get their hands on.

"The issue is that they have a whole cocktail of different drugs."

Mr Twentyman said European schemes where drugs are tested for revellers before they take them should be considered.

"What they do in Europe is when people come in to buy drugs they test the drugs for them so they know exactly what they're getting."

"Maybe that needs to be looked at here, it's been a success."

Intensive care paramedic Alan Eade said it was a scene with which officers were all too familiar.

"We have the highest rate of use of GHB of any city in Australia," Mr Eade said.

"In other states and territories usage has dropped, but not here. Melburnians are overwhelmingly stupid.

"The greatest education point is this: it's a dangerous drug and people die using it.

"If it goes wrong, it goes wrong to the tune of not breathing," Mr Eade said.

But he said the youths involved in Sunday's incident had done the right thing: "They got help. Some others probably wouldn't have."

Mr Baillieu said the message wasn't getting through.

"It's turning young people's lives upside down. It's wasting lives, turning kids into vegetables in hospitals - it's madness."

Nightclub Owners' Association spokesman David Button said the use of GHB in clubs was prevalent.

The victim was taken to the Royal Melbourne hospital and later discharged.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said the Force was committed to reducing the supply of illicit drugs in the community.

"(This includes) the use of so called 'party drugs' in nightclubs," she said in a statement. 

"If information is received regarding trafficking at licensed premises or within the community, Victoria Police responds accordingly.

"The Drug Task Force and Regional police members continue to conduct a number of successful operations aimed at reducing the manufacture and supply of illicit drugs."

Related Articles

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Dairy: Waiting for Your Drug Dealer

When you are hanging out or wanting to score, nothing bothers a drug user more than waiting. Most readers here have probably scored at sometime in their lives so you probably know what I’m talking about. But when you’re an addict and the drug involved is heroin, the stakes are raised by at least ten fold. The combination of anticipation and withdrawal creates an uneasy mix that most addicts would encounter on a regular basis. And the question that crosses everyone’s mind when waiting to score is why the fuck is my dealer late ... again! Surely a heroin dealer - who is most likely addicted as well - knows how much angst is caused by waiting for drugs. They too had to score like the rest of us at one stage and know what’s involved. So why are drug dealers always late?

Low level dealers also have to score except now they wait for a bigger dealer. This must keep them familiar with the concept of waiting. But for some reason - one which I have never been able to establish - they are always late. They all do it but unfortunately, my dealer is the worst. Let me give you some examples.

My dealer’s name is Tan. A decent chap who I have known for over ten years. He is mostly fair with the size of his deals and will even provide credit if he can. But he has a problem ... a major problem. Tan has no concept of time. I’m not talking about the “sorry. I’m late ... the traffic!” excuse. Nor am I not talking about your grandfather who might sometimes mutter, “jeepers, is it that time already?”. No, this is unpredictable, inconceivable, unbelievable and totally unnecessary bad time mismanagement. 

A few months back I rang Tan around midday and asked to see him. I was told that he had to go to the city to refresh his supplies and his estimated return was going to be “an hour or so”. This is where the alarm bells should have gone off.

Tan’s not a big dealer and services a small but steady customer base. It’s more of an informal arrangement than a business and most of his ‘clients' have know him for years. But one thing we as clients have all learned is to never rely on him to be on time. 

Normally on a week day, a trip to the city takes 40-45 minutes with peak hour adding about 30 minutes to the trip. With the added time for conducting his business, there was no way he was getting back within “an hour or so”. But this is where a little known scientific fact kicks in. Waiting for drugs can alter the time-space continuum. That’s right; many years of statistical research and scientific analysis has shown that the calculated period for drugs to arrive is distorted by the degree of hanging out. It’s calculated like this: 15 minutes before Tan leaves plus 45 minutes to the city plus 30 minutes to make the transaction plus 45 minutes to return home plus 15 minutes for me to get to Tan’s house equals - “an hour or so”.

The junkie waiting equation (aka “an hour or so”):
15 + (45 x 2) + 30 = 60

As usual, the wait was excruciating. And in case you weren’t aware, every drug minute takes three normal non-drug minutes(another little known scientific fact). Anyway, it was finally “an hour or so” since I first rang Tan so I called to see if he was ready. 

Terry: “Can I come over now?”

Tan: “Soon ... we are just about to leave”

WTF!!! He hadn’t even left yet! Remember, I had rang him at midday and he was supposed to back by now. I can’t remember the exact words I used after I hung up but they weren’t family orientated. That I know for sure. My day was not off to a good start.

Eventually, it hit 2:00pm but I decided to give it an extra 10 minutes. It had been two whole hours since I had first rang so he was due back any moment and giving it an extra 10 minutes should accommodate any unforeseen delays. Somehow though, I knew in the back of my mind that it was not enough so I bravely waited another 5 minutes. Then another 5. Finally I gave in at 2:30pm. Two and half hours after the initial call should surely be enough time.

Terry: “Can I come over now?”

Tan: “Soon, we’re on the way”

Terry: “on the way back?”

Tan: “No, just on the way”

You must be starting to understand why I hate Tan so much. How hard is it to drive somewhere and come back again within an agreed timeframe?

Why is this happening today? I had skipped my scheduled meds for this and was now starting to suffer withdrawals. I was in pain and Tan’s simple task of driving to the city and back was the key to stopping it. 

By 3:30pm I was sure my time had come. After all, I had rang at midday and the estimated “hour or so” was now 3 and a half hours. Tan couldn’t possibly be that useless.

Just to add some background to the story. I had originally told Tan that my partner needed the car at 3:00pm. I asked him specifically if he was going to be back before then because I couldn’t come over after 3:00pm. Of course, Tan had assured me he would be “an hour or so”. Again at 2:30pm I told him about the urgency of the situation but he assured me he wouldn’t be long.

It’s now 3:30 and Mrs Wright is going apeshit on the phone for not having the car. I tossed up whether to ring Tan or just head on over to his house. Surely he was back by now - it was over 3 and a half hours since I first called.

From years of experience I had learnt a few rules that helped to keep me sane. First of all, always double the expected time. Ten minutes is at least 20 minutes and half an hour means an hour or more. Secondly, never ask Tan to hurry if I have a set timeframe. He just doesn’t have the ability to grasp deadlines.


Terry: “Can I come over now?”

Tan: “Soon”

Terry: “Where are you?”

Tan: “I have just arrived to pick up. I’ll be back home in an hour or so”

Arrrgghhhhh!!! #@$##%$%

I finally caught up with Tan at 5:30pm. Five and half hours after the first call. The longest “an hour or so” in history.

This was just one example of how useless my drug dealer is. The last time I scored I told him I had only 30 minutes to get to his house, have a fix and get home. Again, my partner needed the car for work. “Yup, come on over“ Tan said. I leapt into the car, stopped at a ATM for cash and got to Tan’s house within 15 minutes. I knocked on his door and waited impatiently. Five minutes goes extremely slow when you have 15 minutes to fix then get home before your partner murders you. What the hell is he doing? I knocked again, yelling out that I’m in a goddamn hurry. Finally, Tan appears and says that he will be back shortly ... he has to go and get it first. 

Then there’s the time that I wanted to use without Mrs Wright knowing. She had gone out for an hour so I rang and asked if Tan could come over straight away. “Yup, I’ll be over in 10 minutes”, he said. I emphasised that I had less than an hour and if he turned up after that, the deal was off. I asked him to tell me now if he couldn’t make it and I would see him later instead. He assured me he would be there in time.

30 minutes later and no Tan. Feeling slightly panicky, I rang to see how far away he was. He told me he was just about to leave. I waited for 15 more minutes and knew that this was my last hope before Mrs Wright appeared. So I rang Tan again and said Mrs Wright was due home in less than 15 minutes. He then explains, “I can’t come over. I don’t have a car at the moment”. Seriously … what do you say to that?

I have searched the pages of many medical journals on the internet looking for a time disorder that affects drug dealers. There doesn’t seem to be one. So what the hell does Tan have? What could make someone so oblivious to the concept of time? Apparently though, there are many drug dealers who suffer this infliction. Considering the carnage caused by this terrible disorder, I am seriously thinking about starting a charitable foundation for them. Does anyone want to recommend a name for the foundation because I have a few suggestions.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Even the Truth About Drugs are Illegal

The more I read about this story, the more bizarre it becomes. Seriously, how clueless are these simpleminded people?

Shelby Considers Drug Charges Against Lisa Ling, Crew
Jami Kinton 
March 2011

SHELBY -- Local authorities are considering charges after a recent Oprah Winfrey Network broadcast displayed extensive drug use in and around Richland County.

The Shelby Police Department filed a general offense report Monday morning, with offenses including "corrupting another with drugs," "drug abuse" and "child endangerment."

The offenders?

National news correspondent Lisa Ling, the production crew and all subjects involved in a recent episode of "Our America."

The report, along with a recommendation for misdemeanor and felony charges, will be presented to the Richland County Prosecutor's Office today.

For months, Ling and her crew filmed in Mansfield, Shelby, Plymouth and beyond to detail the heroin problem in Richland County.

When the episode aired on TV on March 22, Shelby police Chief Charlie Roub said he was shocked by what he saw.

"There were people using drugs, talking about using drugs and in one scene, you've got people using drugs with a 1-year-old present," Roub said. "The 1-year-old was also in the back of a van with his parents on their way to purchase drugs."

Spokespeople from the Oprah Winfrey Network have not responded to requests for comment from the News Journal.

"Sometimes it's hard to tell where the drugs are being used at, like when the subjects are in the van, but some places are easily identified as Richland County," Roub said. "Even if you start to commit a crime here and you end in another location, you can still say it started here."

The show, according to the chief, depicts several people injecting themselves and others with drugs. Some were minors at the time, he said.

"What happens from here will be up to the prosecutor to determine, but even if a counterfeit drug was offered, that's a crime, too," Roub said. "If you present it as a drug, it's a drug."

One family involved still lives in the Shelby area.

"I know these people," Roub said. "I've known them for a long time. I just didn't appreciate the whole thing. The show gives this area a bad name. You pick on an area like Richland County, and it makes us look like we're the worst there is in the country.

"Simply not true.”

Hiding the Truth About Drugs Won’t Make Them Go Away
At first, I thought the article was a satire on how midwest America over reacts to drug related issues and it took a few minutes before it sunk in. Then I realised that some elected whackjobs were actually contemplating whether to lay charges on a film crew for reporting on the local drug problem. And these are not just simple misdemeanours but full-on felony charges. Accusing the film crew of “corrupting another with drugs”, "drug abuse" and "child endangerment" is not for the light hearted. This is serious stuff.

It seems that if you expose the uncomfortable truth about illicit drugs, the authorities become obsessed with proving that this information is dangerous to the public. Any diversion from the usual government’s tough line on drugs leaves authorities vulnerable to those pesky facts whipped up by researchers and truth seeking journalists. This sends our leaders into a spin as they go scurrying for their rule books on drug policy and protocol. Never mind that the drug policies they so fervently support are at the root of the problem. Never mind that the laws they insist on cause more carnage, death and misery than drugs ever will. Do they realise that drug policy has been the biggest government failure in history? Why are they so scared of the truth?

Remember Professor David Nutt, head of the UK government’s The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD)? He was sacked by the Home Secretary for simply providing facts to the public. Prof. Nutt made worldwide headlines when he stated that ecstasy and cannabis were not as harmful as the authorities claimed and should be reclassified along with an overhaul of the countries’ drug scheduling system. His comments incensed the government, horrified the anti-drug nut-jobs and sent the tabloid press into a frenzy. The dilemma though was that the Professor was right. And although he may have had scientific research and evidence on his side, government policy isn’t always about the facts. Especially when it comes to drug policy. His offence was described by the Home Secretary as creating “confusion between scientific advice and policy” which says a lot about how the government implements those policies. If important government policies are not based on facts, evidence and science then what the hell are they based on?

How can Shelby Police justify filing charges for airing a documentary? The reporters and film crew were just showing the world how some people live. Documenting the harsh reality of drug abuse on public TV isn’t creating the situation but merely exposing a major problem. Whether the subjects were committing a crime or not, it would have occurred regardless of a TV crew being present. 

There were people using drugs, talking about using drugs and in one scene, you've got people using drugs with a 1-year-old present. The 1-year-old was also in the back of a van with his parents on their way to purchase drugs.
--A shocked Shelby Police Chief, Charlie Roub

That poor 1-year old, being confronted with drug use and van rides at his age. And how dare those ruthless addicts talk about drugs let alone using them. Really? Is this the level of behaviour we expect from an elected Police Chief? There were no violent crimes committed or dangerous behaviour that harmed the community. The footage was simply of people inflicted with an addiction which by-the-way, is still technically a medial issue. And Charlie Roub is not winning any awards for rational thinking by comparing addicts who are using drugs to dangerous criminals like bank robbers.

Let me give you an example. If camera crews followed around bank robbers and aired it on national television, would you not use that footage as evidence? If we did nothing, people would ask, 'Well why didn't you do anything?
--Shelby Police Chief, Charlie Roub

The actions of the Shelby Police Chief, wreaks of an elected official trying to cover his own arse. Why is it alright for Roub to appear on TV in front of confiscated contraband whilst sprucing the successes of his dedicated officers but it’s not okay to show the associated problems? His outrage just doesn’t pass the logic test.

I know these people. I’ve known them for a long time. I just didn't appreciate the whole thing. The show gives this area a bad name. You pick on an area like Richland County, and it makes us look like we're the worst there is in the country.
--Shelby Police Chief, Charlie Roub

It’s interesting to note or even ironic, that the Shelby Police Department is part of METRICH. They are a drug fighting collective, originally formed in 1986 to service Richland County but have since grown to include several nearby jurisdictions. To get an idea how an METRICH operates - the organisation that dictates Shelby’s anti-drug strategies - I checked out their website only to discover that the last update was in 2007. Hmm. Digging deeper, I noticed that the News section has an amazing collection of two articles! One from 2005 and the other from 2004. I suggest you read the 2004 article, 14 Arrested On Drug Charges At Ripplefest. Another interesting feature is the section called “What Drugs Look Like”. But I hope they don’t use this for new officers doing field work because the page is blank. 

Best of all though, is their incredible dictionary of drug terms. I have to say that every possible combination of street slang for drugs is included. Did you know that “Pot” is street talk for marijuana? Or “Agonies” means withdrawal symptoms and when you’re “Totally Spent”, you have a MDMA hangover. Oh, and “Garbage” is what they call inferior quality drugs. My personal favourite is, Zoinked - intoxicated on drugs to the point of uselessness. 

More obscure terms include:
Chestbonz - the one who takes the biggest bong hit
The Witch - heroin
Tampon - a fat joint
Zig Zag Man - LSD; marijuana; marijuana rolling papers
Galloping Horse - heroin
Ghost Busting - smoking cocaine; searching for white particles in the belief that they are crack
Go into a Sewer - to inject a drug
Balling - vaginally implanted cocaine
Interplanetary Mission - travel from one crackhouse to another in search of crack
Queen Ann's Lace - marijuana
Up Against The Stem - addicted to smoking marijuana

And in case you didn’t already know, there’s the term, “Thing” - heroin; cocaine; main drug interest at the moment. I imagine it would be used in a sentence like this: “Where’s my thing” or “Bring that thing over here” or “Is this thing for me?”. I’m glad they cleared that one up.

Growing Concerns
Since the news broke about the Shelby Police Department filing charges, two nearby counties, the Shelby Mayor and some community leaders have publicly given their support. This is a worry. Not only do they have some redneck Police Chief living in his own delusional world but there’s a queue forming of equally disturbed people, willing to join him. Incredibly, most of them hold positions of power.

Filing these charges raises some interesting issues. Does this mean that documentary makers filming the horrors of war can be charged for showing crimes against humanity? Is the Shelby Police Chief simply embarrassed because civilians can find people using heroin but his officers can’t? Does the documentary show the community to have a bigger drug problem than the Police Chief likes to admit? 

If there’s one truth to be learnt from all this, it’s that only the "War on Drugs" could produce a scenario like this.

Charges Against TV Crew Garner Support In Shelby
Jami Kinton 
March 2011

SHELBY -- A pending decision to charge local residents and crew members who took part in a recent episode of "Our America" has won the support of local officials.

On Monday, the Shelby Police Department filed a general offense report -- the initial police document generated upon a complaint -- that included the offenses of "corrupting another with drugs," "drug abuse" and "child endangerment."

Shelby Police Chief Charlie Roub said he would be also be looking into filing charges against national news correspondent Lisa Ling, the production crew and others involved in the episode that aired March 22 on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

A media representative from the network declined to comment on a possible lawsuit.

The recent hour-long program was a sequel to a show that aired on "Oprah" in 2008.

The Shelby police report his been forwarded to the Richland County Prosecutor's office.

Assistant Richland County Prosecutor Brent Robinson has not returned calls to the media.

Local resident included in the episode -- from Plymouth, Shelby and Mansfield -- were seen allegedly injecting themselves with heroin, sometimes in the presence of a toddler.

Richland County Children Services is aware of the situation.

Plymouth Police Chief Charlie Doan said he, too, was angered by the footage. Doan said his department was actively involved in the taping of the initial episode, allowing the crew to shoot at the Plymouth department and assigning officers to tag along on taping that took place inside the village.

When the first episode aired showing Plymouth residents consuming drugs, Doan said he was livid.

"I was on the phone that same night with the network," he said. "I was hot. They never filmed that stuff when we were around. When I called them they basically said, 'We were trying to shoot a show.' I do think that the crew should still be held accountable, but that's where the prosecutor comes in."

Doan said he had many questions after viewing the footage.

"Anyone who supplies drugs should be charged, but it's a matter of proving who did what," he said. "They show (a woman) shooting up, but there's a lot we didn't see. Where do you think that money came from? I doubt they stole it with the presence of the TV crew there. Hopefully, the crew didn't watch them steal it, too."

Although two of the people on the show live in Plymouth, Doan said it didn't appear any criminal activity took place within his jurisdiction.

"If it did, I would pursue charges, too," Doan said. "If (Roub) can get something from this, he won't lack support from me."

Richland County Sheriff Steve Sheldon said he spoke with Roub on Tuesday morning about the issue. Sheldon said he couldn't speculate on whether or not the county would decide to join forces.

"Two hundred things could happen from here," he said. "We're waiting to see what the prosecutor says."

In response to some angry community members, Roub stressed that Shelby Police are not pursuing a lawsuit.

"It's a criminal act, not a civil act," he said. "There is evidence that a crime was committed, but a lot can happen from here."

Roub said the time criminal actions took place also will be considered.

As police chief, Roub said he has an obligation to address the situation.

"Let me give you an example," Roub said. "If camera crews followed around bank robbers and aired it on national television, would you not use that footage as evidence? If we did nothing, people would ask, 'Well why didn't you do anything?'"

Shelby Mayor Marilyn John found no fault in Roub's efforts.

"If illegal activity has taken place anywhere in the county, it is up to law enforcement to pursue it," she said. "If it happened during the filming, then it's up to them to investigate it and address it."

Doan is exasperated.

"I was sick after the first show, and didn't even watch all of the second," he said. "It seemed like it was done more for entertainment than anything else. It just didn't end up being what I imagined.”

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