(maybe you want to visit my front page...)
I've set up a page for letters I've had published in the Press. This is for several reasons. Firstly, it broadcasts them widely: some are on topics which are not purely parochial.
Secondly, it enables the reader to read the originals: by the time my letter is published, the Press containing my sources may have been discarded. Of course, the Guernsey Press homepage does some good archiving work itself.
Thirdly, while this doesn't appear to be the case at first, I write for brevity. There are worthwhile comments which I often can't include for reasons of space.
Some guy called Talmai Morgan, who was allegedly once stupid enough to stand in a British General Election as a Tory in Wales, went on a one-man propaganda offensive over the summer of 2005.
His original musings are mostly in "'Socialist' States may kill finance industry", by Mark Oliphant, published on 3rd August 2005. You can find it on the Guernsey Press homepage.
There were further rumblings of the "Oh god, save us from the dangerous lefties who are imperiling my island" variety on 23rd August. What was added to his case in this letter chiefly consisted of a string of inane cliches. But check out the post below: some heartening criticism.
Finally, he had another chance to propagate his ideas on 9th September, in an article called "My love is Guernsey, not the finance industry". Isn't that touching? This one seems not to have made it online.
My response made it into print eventually.
The subject was brought up with a letter by Geoff Dorey. I decided to write a reply.
Though I had not the time to mention it, I was particularly chilled by the suggestion that "Rights are not sacrosanct and can be forfeited if deserved". I had a look through the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, focussing in particular on Articles 19, 37, 39 and 40. There is nothing in the preamble saying that these rights are not sacrosanct or that they can be waived at the request of Mr. Dorey.
On the other hand, I have looked for a copy of the UN Convention on Not Dropping Litter Near Where Geoff Dorey Lives, and have so far been unsuccessful. Some rights are, it seems, more sacrosanct than others, but they're not the ones championed by Mr. Dorey.
On the same day, the Guernsey Press published two articles on the States of Guernsey's suggested tax policy for the next few years. It was not too subtle.
Alas, there appears to be no way I can link to them, but they can be searched from the Guernsey Press homepage: you're looking for one entitled "Rich may be lured with indirect taxes", and another called "Indirect taxes will almost certainly rise", both by James Falla.
That's right: our corporate elite seemed to be agitating that the best way to solve our public funding shortfall was to tax the poor more and the rich less. Exceptional! I responded.
The Press publicised a propaganda drive by Geoff Rowland, surrounding a hefty sentence giving to someone who was looking after a moderate number of Ecstasy tablets for a friend.
Again, there seems to be no way to link it, but it's an article called "'Minders' will be treated as dealers".
So, in response to my letter, there was a quasi-official reply by Rob Prow, of Customs and Excise. His comments deserve some detailed analysis; some of the points below are more crucial than others, and they're in the order they are occasioned by his letter.
His first comment (that "global" evidence reveals evidence of effects upon us) is nonsense: global evidence reveals evidence of global damage; local evidence might reveal evidence of damage to us.
Mr. Prow then spends a good deal of time talking about the dangers of drug abuse as if it there all illegal drugs had the same danger attached. This is ridiculous.
He claims that the success of Guernsey's drug policy is "evidenced by the High Street prices of all controlled drugs (including Ecstasy) when compared with the UK and Continental Europe".
It's far more plausible to imagine that the obvious infelicities facing a drug dealer importing to Guernsey are primarily responsible for this phenomenon. In particular, there is no economy of scale in Guernsey. Also, there are fewer ways in to Guernsey than there are to the UK, and most "hard" drugs will have not enough users to make a serious and dedicated drug importing operation plausible.
To put it simply, he's not comparing like with like.
Mr Cranch gives his opinion with regard to a judgement in a specific case. It is difficult and sometimes dangerous to make comment unless all the evidence and submissions have been considered in great detail, as the court will have done.appears to be a rather clumsy attempt to get me to shut up. After all, the public has to be able to comment on the legal system, and they can't be much better informed than by doing what I did, namely reading about the cases in the Press. It is unpleasant to see a civil servant attempt to stifle public discussion in this manner.
When he says,
Defendants are entitled to legal aid, are represented by an advocate and can appeal against their sentence, I get the disturbing impression that he thinks this is a point in favour of the legislation: that it would be OK to make breathing illegal as long as we gave defendants legal aid and the right of appeal.
We then enter the medical part of the letter, which lies so incongruously with the rest that it appears to have been copied and pasted. He makes the absurd claim that I suggested that all symptoms of Ecstasy are symptoms of skiing.
One of the two comedy points: he suggests that a rapid heartbeat and sweating are not symptomatic of going skiing.
His point about the further symptoms of Ecstasy is flawed in a more serious sense. Firstly, skiers risk broken bones, sprained muscles, torn ligaments, frostbite and minor cuts, none of which are commonly associated with Ecstasy use. We could go back and forth in this manner as long as Mr Prow wants: in answer to his
Too much stimulation when combined with heat, physical exercise and dehydration can cause the user to blank out all sights and sounds for several minutes.I submit that, for skiers, too much speed combined with a large tree can similarly cause the user to blank out for several minutes.
His point about the "sudden death syndrome" is utterly irrelevant: my death rates were, of course, all-inclusive, and musing on the various causes of death adds nothing. It is clear from the scare-quotes that he is attempting to subdue the masses, rather than trying to add to the wealth of human knowledge.
Comedy point number two: he does not know what the word "synthesise" means. Actually, this is not all that funny. He is someone who might be expected to have a basic knowledge of the biological processes he is fighting a crusade against. Such a knowledge should extend well beyond accurately employing basic technical terms.
Finally, his suggestion that commentary on the island's drug policy is only "helpful" when it "reduces the incidence... of drug taking", is repugnant. Interpreted in any meaningful sense, he is implying that the public may only participate in the island's drug debate if they are attempting to disinform, like Mr Prow in this letter, or accelerate our drug war.
I should mention that another letter was written on a similar topic to mine. The matter raised in the note at the end notwithstanding, I endorse the principal points therein as being probably fairly accurate.
This time my letter was elicited by a retributionist manifesto. In turn, someone else felt it was worthwhile adding to it anonymously. I don't think much comment is required on this issue.