Friday, 30 March 2012

Drug Laws - Sense or Nonsense?

Any civilised society has to live by the rule of law.  Without laws, everyone does what seems right to them and the end result is always chaos. A jungle.

But as thinking people who abide by the rule of law we should also consider the justice of the laws which govern us. Are they appropriate to the way people live today? Are they fair to everyone? For some time now there has been a lot of debate around the drug laws. Cigarettes and alcohol are legal. Cannabis/marijuana, heroin, crack/cocaine, ecstasy, meth etc. are not.

So I ask the question - do our drug laws make sense?

The argument for change:

Because drugs are illegal they have to be smuggled into the country. This causes scarcity, and scarcity drives up prices, resulting in acquisitive crime but this is not the case for legal drugs. When was the last time you heard of someone's house being burgled or a person being mugged to fund an alcohol or cigarette habit?

Furthermore, the goods sold to obtain drug money are often stolen. The street-value of these stolen goods is far lower than the shop-price. This means that to buy £50 of heroin an addict will need to steal about £500 of goods, give or take. This makes drug crime very expensive to the community.

Who profits from the illegal drugs trade? Huge amounts of money go straight to organised crime. The results are even worse in countries that produce drugs, where they are used to fund large scale paramilitary organisations, corrupt governments and undermine stability.
Not only are legal drugs cheaper, reducing the need for crime, but the tax revenue gained from this goes into the public coffers.  America tried to make alcohol illegal - the result? Al Capone.

Illegal drugs are not subject to quality controls and so are laced with all kinds of toxic chemicals to bulk them up. The result is that the impurities sometimes cause more harm to drug users than the actual drugs themselves! Illegality keeps drug users on the margins. This discourages them from accessing help and treatment, exacerbating not only their addiction but the impact on their families, employment and prospects.

The war on drugs costs. Keeping a person in prison is more expensive than sending them to university - not to mention the wasted time and potential of the prisoners. Prison overcrowding could be resolved at a stroke.
Argument for keeping drugs illegal:

Alcohol and cigarettes are legal. Yet they are not only addictive but kill far more people than illegal drugs. Making more drugs legal will only result in more harm as they will be easier to obtain. Based on this, some would even suggest making alcohol and cigarettes illegal.

According to a BBC documentary called Horizon in  2011 there were:

Deaths per year due to Alcohol:                40,000
Deaths per year due to Tobacco:               114,000
Deaths per year due to Ecstasy:                27
Deaths per year due to Heroin:                 700
Deaths per year due to Amphetamine:      35
Deaths per year due to Cocaine:               214

The moral argument. If drug taking is wrong the law cannot be seen to condone this. What climate would legal drugs create for our children? People should only take drugs that are medicinal and beneficial for their health.

Making drugs legal would bring them into the mainstream of society encouraging more people to experiment with them, possibly coercing those who otherwise would not have considered taking it, putting them at risk of becoming addicted.
Once again, I believe we should live by the law so I'm not suggesting that  anyone break the law but to discuss the pro's and cons of drugs within our society.

Do you think that drugs should be legal or kept illegal, and if so, why?

Friday, 23 March 2012

Religion of Terror

Please note this is not a post against muslims or Islam but rather trying to find answers to many unanswered questions on terrorism!

I will never forget the fear and irrational thinking that happened to me shortly after the july 7/7 bombings in London and, prior to this, the IRA bombing in South Quay, Canary Wharf. 

I clearly remember having this overwhelming feeling that the muslim faith was no longer just another religion with different views to my own belief system, but that muslims were out to kill us for not being like them. I spent the next few months after this incident hating the layout of my beloved underground train system, sitting next to the emergency exits on every bus and made it my sole duty to keep my eye on any type of bag/luggage/equipment that looked as if it could be detonated by a mobile device. It's better to be safe than sorry was my thought. I made concerted efforts to get off the train if someone who looked like a muslim wearing particular attire, beard and kufi, not to mention carrying a back-pack got on anywhere near me. I further took it upon myself to verbally challenge people on our London transport system to make sure that any unattended bag belonged to them. It was tiresome and left a bitter taste in my mouth. 

I was certain that every muslim who saw me viewed me as an infidel and would have no hesitation in blowing my little butt up, shouting 'allahu akbar' all the way. I don't fear death but I do fear being mentally, physically and emotionally scarred.

Although I no longer think this way, the recent events involving Mohammed Merah, a French national, alleged to be a terrorist, has made me wonder once again. How can someone have no thought in deliberately killing innocent people for their own personal cause? How does someone strap a bomb to themselves with the sole intention of killing as many people as they can? How can they believe it is their God-given right to completely obliterate other human beings, just because they don't hold the same beliefs or values as themselves?

This brings me to a few real interesting points:

1. How far would you go in any given situation, in order to make a point? 
2. If you're religious or have a cultural custom and was asked to do something that you didn't agree with, would you continue to believe in that system or would you blindly continue to obey?

I welcome your comments but please don't use this space to stigmatise muslims.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Death Penalty - Murder or Not?

As a human being, can we really justify the right to take someone else's life and if so, when did we get the power and authority to do so?

On one hand we all like to say 'thou shalt not kill' but on the other hand when push comes to shove we are the first to shoot the burglar who crosses our threshold, we are the first to coax the rape victim into having an abortion  (certain cultures will abort a child because it is female), we are the first to point the finger and shout death penalty for the person who has just murdered several people. In some countries you may be stoned to death for adultery without hardly any evidence against you.

We applaud the death of Bin Laden and Saddam Hussain justifying it by their horrific actions to human society, but how do we justify it when we send forth our soldiers to literally go out and kill? Let's pretend that any war is justified and each army can kill the other army, what do we then say about the innocent civilians being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Sorry!
What about the people flying off to Dignitas in Switzerland for assisted suicide? Should this be classed as murder? After all, it is one person giving another person a deadly dose of medication. Or do we see it as ok, and carefully justify it due to the person's serious illness?

I'm sure most of us have heard about cases where people were sentenced for crimes they stated they never committed, only for years later, sometimes with the help of DNA to find out that that person was actually innocent. Now what if we had already killed them? Do we financially compensate their loved ones, or do we graciously and openly say sorry?

One case is that of Edward Earl Johnson, executed via the gas chamber in 1987. Wrongfully convicted of the sexual assault of a white woman and for killing a police officer. A BBC documentary was made on this case called "14 days in May".  This documentary (well worth watching) won a british film award but unfortunately only an abbreviated version was shown in America which the director disapproved of. I wonder why!

The death penalty, whether it be by hanging, gas, lethal injection, stoning etc. has done nothing to deter or stop many of the violent crimes, because we can still see the prisons are bursting at the seams? home and abroad.
John Wayne Gacy
murdered and raped 33 men - lethal injection

Ted Bundy - aka The Campus Killer
murdered and raped many but only confessed to killing 30 women although authorities believed it was over 100 women, he kept the heads of some victims at his home to engage in necrophillia - electrocuted

Rodney Alcala
raped, murdered, sodomised, kidnapped victims- was on death row

It is very easy to condemn one to their death, but what we should also consider is, that one day it could be YOU or YOUR family member accused of a crime they did not commit and they too could end up on death row.

Feel free to comment and provide me with your suggestions on how to deal with this.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Mother's Day - Turning a negative into a postive

When all is said and done, after all the harsh words have been spoken and all the wickedness has run its course, it is a pity and great shame that  the forthcoming 'Mother's Day' hasn't got much meaning to me.  It's a card that very rarely gets sent.

Saying that, I must honestly and fairly give credit where credit is due.  I learned a lot about life and people during my early years because of her, my mother. I carefully point out her achievements in this post without malice or regret or fear. She did the best she could with what she had and paid with the consequences.

The endless mind games she produced strengthened my ability to become meticulous in all I do, and to leave no stone unturned. The lack of her emotions taught me not to cry like a baby over every action but to 'keep a stiff upper lip' as the Brits would say and deal with situations at hand. The art of her using the crying technique (at specific times) in order to get you to conform gave me the ability to not be flustered or fooled by the false shedding of someone's tears. The beatings have given me a strong back, I can physically take care of myself now, I know not to tolerate a domestic violence situation.

My many embarrassing moments in public, sometimes unexpected,  gave me an ability to keep a 'plain face', I learned not to react but firmly deal with any situation put before me.

The false accusations taught me that just because you have been evil spoken of, doesn't mean it's true. I always do my homework and acquit the innocent.

I've learned to 'eat the meat and spit out the bones'. take responsibility for my own actions, make wiser choices, and most of all, not to become her. You can always turn a negative into a positive.


Have you got any special memories you would like to share?
How did you change negatives into positives in your life? Leave me a comment.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Witchcraft in the Church?

Not again. In London 2 people have just been found guilty of killing Kristy Bamu because they believed he had an evil spirit. They took it upon themselves to exorcise this 15 year old boy and murdered him in the process. This is not an isolated case, more and more children are being tortured in this country and abused under the name of Jesus. Why is this happening in our christian churches?

Where are all the Pastors, Preachers, Bishops and Apostles? In their ivory towers? What are they going to do about this?

London has a vast amount of churches, including independent ones that could and should comment on this. It seems they have gone into hiding.
In my own personal view, (and I am definitely not bible bashing) if there was an evil spirit, why didn't they speak to it and cast it out like the bible says?  I don't remember Jesus physically getting in a scrap with a person or torturing anyone to death because he couldn't get the demon out, or am I wrong?

Very few men of the cloth have come forward to condemn this witchcraft abuse, despite it being a major media issue at present. Nobody will come forward and remove themselves from the safety of the the church building and explain about demon possession and what should be done about it according to the bible. I can assure you all that the next 'praise night/gospel extravaganza' will be packed with people singing and dancing without a thought for the lost outside.

I don't have anything against Christianity despite what I say when I express my concerns and personal experiences, but it totally overwhelms me that it has become so insular at times, daring not to speak out on matters that affect us all. It exasperates me when issues are being openly debated on TV, radio, newspapers and the public truly want an answer but those leaders are reluctant to give a view, give an opinion, answer an invite whenever the opportunity arises or even just simply say 'I don't know or have an answer'.

It doesn't matter what you call it, whether a demon, evil spirit, duppy, gin, voodoo, or plain witchcraft. I also don't believe it is just in the African/Caribbean cultures but is something that effects every culture throughout this world.

You cannot control someone's belief but you should be able to control what they do when they use such violence. Who is really the witch? The person being tortured or the one doing the torturing?

As a community, let's be vigilant, don't be afraid to enquire when you hear the shouts and screams of your neighbour, don't be fooled when you can clearly see that a child has evidence of marks and bruises. If you do call the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (or whatever it is called in your country) don't be afraid to follow up that call to find out what they did about it.  You may be wrong in what you thought,  but what if you were RIGHT?

Please come forward with suggestions as to how our communities can tackle this.
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