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No facts please. There’s an election going on.

Regarding censorship

Are our politicians now allowed to use the police to clear a venue of any possibly contentious questioners before they arrive?

My mate Michael Balderstone, President of the HEMP Party, was removed from a venue today by a police officer. The only reason I can possibly conjure up that could possibly motivate this manhandling of a social justice campaigner was that he might possibly be about to ask an awkward question. The thought that Mr Balderstone might pose a threat to any individual, or public order, is simply silly.

Anyone who knows Mr Balderstone, even for the briefest of passing moments, will instantly recognise a cultured, good-humoured and well-educated fellow. He’s instantly appreciated to be a mild-mannered middle-aged cannabis advocate – not a bikie. So I simply cannot believe he was removed because he represented a danger to anyone.

In fact, Mr Balderstone ran for the Senate at the last election and is doing so in this election. Did the police think he was about to launch himself bodily at the PM? Did they think he might be about to start screaming abuse? Or baring his buttocks? All of these possibilities must be viewed as being fairly remote at best. So why was Mr Balderstone removed from the venue even before the PM arrived? The only possible reason I can think of is that he might have been about to ask a difficult question. That is utterly unacceptable. In so many ways.

I was sad, horrified, and angry when I saw the picture of Michael being led away like a common criminal by a policeman. I am still furious.

Yes, Mr Balderstone is a man of firm ideas and is never afraid to ask a question whenever the opportunity arises. So Mr Turnbull has the option of either not attending the venue, or ignoring or not taking a question from Mr Balderstone, but he does not have any right to have a nice jumper and sandal wearing public advocate evicted from a venue.

The police have no official interest in the social discourse at an election time. Either you abide by this injunction or you can resign as a police officer. If the police officer was acting on his own initiative then he must be disciplined.

If this action was directed by the Turnbull camp then questions must be asked about why Mr Turnbull thinks it is appropriate to use the Police as an ideological shield against unwanted questions. On its face this is illegal and unacceptable behaviour

Or have we simply decided to accept that one of the fruits of being in power is that you can now manufacture an Australia of your own choosing by sending the coppers ahead of you to remove anyone who might ask an uncomfortable question?

Apparently Mr Turnbull doesn’t want to be bothered by petty matters (like the suffering of sick Australians, or people still being gaoled for using a relatively harmless therapeutic herb or seeing all of us continue to spend millions of dollars each year in a fruitless and inane attempt to ‘eradicate’ cannabis in our country). This is understandable! Especially with a lot of reporters about. And most especially not in an election campaign.

So Mr Turnbull has every right to not talk about these matters. But he does not have a right to have the Police remove people from a venue who have been identified as capable of asking him an awkward question. And the police have no right to do so. Yet still it happened with journalistic eyes actually watching, so it cannot simply be dismissed as being unimportant.

At the very least Mr Turnbull owes Candidate Balderstone a fulsome apology.

Regarding cannabis

The only way in which cannabis is talked about in our mainstream media, and by our politicians, is as if it is a dangerous drug that needs to be ‘controlled’. This is factually incorrect. Cannabis can be described as being a therapeutic herb or a recreational drug but it has been acknowledged by even the circuit court in Washington DC that most every other drug or therapeutic agent used in our society is more dangerous.

Since I do not think we should have laws designed to protect us against imaginary perils or moral hazards, cannabis should not be considered by the criminal law at all. Most other Aussies think much the same. It is all just a huge amount of hullaballoo about nothing.

If the current laws weren’t harming so many people it would be simply ludicrous instead of tragic. After all, paracetamol, aspirin, Coca-Cola, playing in the sand, surfing, fishing, driving a car and simply walking down the road are all far riskier. All of these things result in the deaths of Australian citizens every year.

Yet Cannabis kills nobody. Ever. In all of recorded history. But if you can get a serving Aussie politician to simply acknowledge this fact in public, I will buy you a green cigar.

Thousands of people die each year from abusing alcohol, yet we do not outlaw the substance nor do we require those that use it as a recreational aid to obtain a prescription. That would be silly. Yet our political class are proposing that the best way to increase the availability of this relatively harmless therapeutic agent for people who really need it – is to manufacture a huge number of additional restrictive laws.

The idea that we need to set up a huge new bureaucracy to oversee the licensing and distribution of prescription cannabis is, at its heart, preposterous. It is as ill-judged and stupid an idea as making cannabis illegal in the first place.

The best way to ensure that sick people have access to cannabis, is to legalise the use of cannabis. So let’s end the silly charade and start spending our money on policing crime instead of morality. We need to scrap our cannabis laws entirely and start again with a clear eyed and scientifically informed appreciation of the risks that attend the use of the substance. We can put the money we save into better supporting and assisting those people in our society who are suffering from using far more dangerous substances like methamphetamine, oxycodone, alcohol, and sugar.

 

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16 comments

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  1. keerti

    I don’t use cannabis, but I agree wholeheartedly. The logic behind pot laws is bereft of intelligence. At lesast 50percent of the adult population have used it. Are they all criminals? The legislation benefits police and dealers only. It gives them both a job!

  2. paul walter

    What’s more, the incident is part of a pattern we have seen developing over the last couple of years, where vested interests tried to keep a narrative going, sometimes against reason, including through the erasing of other voices.

    Forget cannabis except as par t of a pattern. It could be to do with women’s shelters, indigines or refugees; vested interests don’t like being called out and the current antics are a direct response derived of Abbott and co’s dismantlng of openess, accountablity and free speech in favour of a murky, sinister opaqueness.

  3. Gangey1959

    And on July 2, can we expect the police to be at polling booths in order to remove anyone who might be considering voting in a matter uncomfortable to our illustrious dealer just because he can’t handle the heat? Cannabis is beside the point entirely.

  4. etnorb

    Like you Keerti, I do not use Cannabis, but, after all that I have read on the subject of using “medical grade” cannabis, I wonder why ALL our inept parliaments around Australia have seemingly made it appear to be the worst thing ever! I really enjoy my alcohol, do not abuse it, but am at pains as to why alcohol is ok, lawful & acceptable, but using medical grade cannabis is not! A for the incident reported above, it just confirms to me that Talkbull (at least!) is so concerned about ANY form of “wrong” or “tough” question, that he has (obviously) given catre-blanche for our Police force to evict anyone he conceives as a “threat” to his right wing, flat earth, tea party, lying, conservative outlook & philosophy! More power to Michael Balderstone!

  5. stephentardrew

    Police state.

  6. Jack Russell

    The “War Against Drugs” is, and has only ever been, a profitable business enterprise for many, a tool of social control, a political expediency, and a targeted USA export to nitwit governments who drank the Kool-ade.

    When DuPont invented Nylon they wanted to put the hemp industry out of business, and did.

  7. johnlward010

    The Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012 was established by Parliament to move us to a clean pollution free future. Under the Law the Treasurer and the Finance Minister are forbidden to tell the CEFC how or where to distribute its funds. The Treasurer and Prime Minister have made fraudulent, deceptive and misleading representations about the nature of climate change and their power to use these funds.
    I want them stopped.
    Despite vigorous efforts to abolish the CEFC Act, the accused have failed in three years to change or abolish this law. The Parliament obstructed their efforts.
    The Government’s May Budget kept more than twenty billion dollars in subsidies to the fossil fuel industries and gave a hundred million dollars of new money to mining exploration, while at the same time was attempting to abolish the CEFC or illegally change its investment Mandate.
    Now, during an election campaign, the Cabinet Ministers are pledging the CEFC’s funds as if it is ‘the Green Bank’ and is the Government’s money to spend.
    Under the law written into the CEFC Act to do so, is to prop up the powerful Fossil Fuel industry by depleting the Corporation’s funds with money that is not theirs to pledge.
    This is a multi-billion dollar crime and a contempt of our Parliament and an attempt to use funds allocated by Parliament.
    The DPP has made it known that it will shut down Private Prosecutions for the foreseeable future.
    I smell the long arm of a corrupt fossil fuel lobby.
    I want us to walk on the grass roof of Parliament House in Canberra knowing that the people are ‘sovereign’, that this is our Parliament.

    John Ward
    20 Grosse Road
    Gordon
    Tasmania 7150

  8. wam

    the fears of religion cannot see the light of day least the sun allows the sheep to see the shepherd.
    The wowsers cannot see the light of day in case they see through xenophon.
    the light of day is no longer useful to the browns since diludbran killed the chlorophyl
    unless labor frees the light of the debt/economic lies we become the 51st state of the usa.

  9. Peter F

    So now you can be removed because you MIGHT do something wrong……….Not illegal, just ‘wrong’.
    This cannot be ignored.

  10. Kaye Lee

    The drug laws in this country are ridiculous. They spend a fortune and destroy people’s lives to smash the people smuggling trade but are more than happy to continue to provide a market for criminal drug dealers. The CSIRO should have monopoly rights for the commercial production of cannabis. People should be able to grow a limited number of plants for their own for personal use. Addicts of more dangerous drugs should be dealt with through the health system rather than the justice system. Stop funding the bad guys.

    I am also getting very worried about the growing use of information control by this government. Environmental groups were banned from entering a meeting with the PM hosted by George Christensen. The only “journalists” allowed to go to Nauru are Chris Kenny (former Chief of staff to Malcolm Turnbull), and A Current Affair. Gillian Triggs is not allowed to go there. What does that tell you? The police raid to try and catch the person who is telling us the truth about the NBN is another example. Brandis decreeing that no-one is to have access to the independent Solicitor-General???? The trend MUST be exposed and resisted.

  11. corvus boreus

    The laws on the recreational growth and use of plants of genus Cannabis (based upon them containing a non-synthesised compound with no LD50) are an obvious intrusion on personal liberties, although there is obviously still a need for regulation of the activities that stoned people can legally undertake (eg no driving or public legislating)
    This holds especially true in view of the comparative physical and social toxicity of some of the legal ‘buzzes’ on offer
    Ethanol helps kill, maim and traumatise many thousands of people per year, yet is glorified and aggressively peddled.
    Children are weaned on sugared caffeine (tri-methyl xanthine), then medicated for ADHD (methylphenidate). Ritalin and coke.

    However, the real injustice in the current ‘marijuana’ laws are that not only has the industry of highly economical and relatively benign ecological source of natural fibres been severely retarded by some, well, ‘severely retarded’ laws, but people suffering from various forms of chronic ailment (cancers, seizures) have been long denied the option of a safe, natural therapeutic and analgaesic herbal remedy that, by clinical trials, can often work wonders.

    I guess that is what comes from having drunks writing laws.

  12. James Moylan

    thank you all

    I reckon if we locked up all 11 of you guys in the Senate we would have a much better debate.

    I am always blown away at how articulate and insightful and kneejerk compassionate almost all progressive Aussie voices can be and usually are.

    On AIM even the snarky comments are usually well crafted (not that there are any above).

    I feel instantly less alone now, after reading that lot.

    So thanks everyone.

    In praise of AIM:

    I worry that Australia is getting ever more polarised.

    And the more polarised it becomes the less time is given over to examining the evidence, the arguments, the people and the environment.

    But it is becoming ever more polarised because the political centre has shifted so far to the right over the last three decades. The ‘left’ doesn’t work like that.

    Most progressively minded people are not part of a pack. They tend to use the gift of rationality common to our species to determine a considered opinion regarding ‘everything’. Yes they listen to other people but they are slow to agree and tend to be easily swayed by scientific evidence and probabilistic reasoning into changing their opinion; fractionally.

    So the ‘left’ have all remained pretty much where they were three decades ago, like thousands of little candles planted in a sea of darkness, while the darkness and irrationality has been propagating and intensifying over an ever broader area.

    There seems to be ever less space (and respect) in peoples minds and in the public discourse. Or at least that is how it often seems.

    That is why AIM is remarkable (at least for me).

    I can come here feeling mildly depressed and isolated (thinking all the gloomy sorts of thoughts recorded above) and go away smiling and a little less hubristic

    It’s all about re-realising (for the fourteen-thousandth time) that all the many thousands of rational interested progressive people in Australia are also usually feeling ‘one-out’ and a bit isolated.

    In so many ways we really are a hundred thousand beautiful candles burning in the wilderness.

    Have a good weekend everyone.

    You’ve certainly done me a power of good.

  13. diannaart

    James Moylan

    Another brick in the wall of fascism that is being constructed around us.

  14. Deanna Jones

    Thank you, James. Our gaols are over-flowing with people who picked the ‘wrong’ drugs. People who like the mind-expanding drugs that induce deep thinking, as opposed to people who choose the government-sanctioned, thought-suppressing drugs churned out by Big Pharma. What a surprise.

  15. Flogga

    Not sure about the assertion that “Cannabis kills nobody. Ever. In all of recorded history”. Smoking anything is harmful and causes disease whether it be tobacco, cannabis or tea leaves and I’m sure there are cases of cannabis smoking related illness and death. Not advocating prohibition, just commenting on the veracity of the claim.

  16. Kaye Lee

    “In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating 10 raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death. Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within the supervised routine of medical care.

    [DEA Administrative Law Judge – 1988]”

    According to a survey conducted by Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 35 per cent of the Australian population have used cannabis at least once. Unlike heroin and cocaine, there have been no known deaths from an overdose of cannabis. Like alcohol and other drugs, occasional use of small quantities of cannabis is unlikely to cause any permanent health damage. The following is a good article cautioning about the harmful effects of long term or overuse.

    http://www.abc.net.au/health/library/stories/2002/08/22/1829503.htm

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