Victims and Criminals

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A young man died at the electronic music festival recently. The cause of death? Illicit drugs, which are said to be commonly available at such festivals. What makes me stroppy? His family are describing him as a victim and blaming the festival organisers for his death.

Unless he was held down and forced to swallow pills, or an attacker forcibly injected him, he was not a victim. He was a criminal*. And if festival organisers were required to guarantee the safety of every patron who chooses to indulge in dangerous or illegal activities, I suspect the ticket prices would be much higher than they are.

What makes me even stroppier is that the courts seem to put drug dealing on a par with shoplifting. Three young women who were caught selling ecstasy tablets at a nightclub were given 14-month suspended sentences plus 200 hours of community service. One of them was let off the community service because she was pregnant! These people are beyond any reasonable doubt serious criminals and should be punished accordingly.

* Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer and I don’t know if using the drug that this young man used is a criminal offence in Australia. I’m using the word ‘criminal’ in a non-legal way to mean ‘perpetrator of something that is so morally reprehensible, so socially damaging and so stupid that it ought to be a criminal offence’.

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2 thoughts on “Victims and Criminals

  1. I despise the ‘nanny state’. The state’s responsibility is to inform not force. If in full knowledge of the risks, I choose to put myself at risk, I should be at liberty to do so. We don’t stop people climbing mountains. (More than 120 have died climbing Mount Cook– the last just yesterday.) The government should consider externalities (eg, lifetime care for the brain-damaged) and could raise money from a tax on recreational drugs.
    PS: In Canada sale of alcohol is limited to government-owned shops. Doing likewise for recreational drugs would ensure purity and guarantee they are true to label.

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    • In principle I agree, Ron. But what about actions that endanger not just the actor but other members of the community, or the community at large? The hospital Accident and Emergency departments are so full of drunks and junkies that resources are not available for patients whose injuries are non self-inflicted. People who should be usefully employed are supported by the community because their dangerous behaviour has left them incapacitated. Many crimes are committed by people desperate to finance their addictions.

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