Saturday night’s concert in Phoenix Park saw what were surely the most tragic events to occur at any concert or festival on this island in many years. Two young men died of as-of-yet unknown causes and nine people were stabbed, although none fatally. It if of course very unfortunate that so many people came to be killed or injured in the course of what should have been an enjoyable occasion. It is however also very unfortunate that people should use these tragic events to promote tired agendas or peddle misinformation.
It’s obvious that a large amount of alcohol was consumed at this concert. I won’t deny that excessive consumption of alcohol can lead people to behave in a violent and aggressive manner its a clear fact that it does. I don’t think the consumption of alcohol can be used to explain such horrific levels of violence however. The people responsible for these vicious assaults were surely not solely motivated by drinking I have no doubt they are individuals with a prior history of violent behaviour whether this is reflected in a criminal record or not. Even if we can show that alcohol is responsible for a great deal of the violence on Ireland’s street, I think we can accept as a society that there is little alternative to allowing the free consumption of alcohol by adults as I’m sure everybody is familiar with the consequences of previous efforts to prohibit its sale. And it is grown adults we are talking about here, despite pointless statements by Fiona Ryan of Alcohol Action Ireland
‘”We need to look at how we regard alcohol,” she said.”It’s not a grocery like bread or milk…It is a drug, a licensed substance and it should not be easy for 15- and 16-year-olds to buy a drug.”
Well Fiona, the two men who died following the concert and the man accused of several stabbing incidents were 20, 21 and 22 years of age respectively, making such concerns irrelevant. This is actually a typical tactic of many campaigners for tighter regulation of the sale of alcohol- they link all initiatives to a desire to curb underage drinking whether or not it will have any impact. Earlier off-license closing times and higher taxes on alcohol were among these motions. And have they curbed underage drinking? Not in the slightest.
All of this brings me on to the more controversial issue of illegal drug use. This charming little piece of nonsense popped up in my facebook newsfeed earlier and I’m thankful to say it was being roundly mocked for its stupidity. Apart from the absurdity of blaming Madonna for promoting drug use among Irish youths (Yes, it was published today, not in 1987) the author has a very poor idea of the effects of MDMA (ecstasy). I’ll just say this much about the dangers of ecstasy- there aren’t all that many. I’m not alone in thinking this- if you want to hear about an interesting case of government censorship, read up on what happened to David Nutt. The author of the Irish Times article appears to acknowledge this, claiming that raves in the 1990s were very safe-
“The inconvenient truth – for the tabloid press at the time – was that ecstasy was enjoyed by millions of clubbers during the 1990s, and with perhaps fewer overdoses than caused by alcohol use.”
He quickly changes his mind however and claims that-
“Today’s generation – brought up with binge alcohol tendencies – is popping and dropping indiscriminately. And when you mix a rave drug with large quantities of alcohol, it really is time (for the rest of us) to batten down the hatches.”
This is absolute nonsense. The idea that the people only began binge drinking since the 1990s, the idea that nobody would ever think to mix alcohol with ecstasy during the 1990s and the idea that ecstasy promotes violent behaviour are all total fictions originating in the mind of this “journalist”. The primary effect ecstasy is known for is its promotion of feelings of compassion towards others, quite different from engaging in armed assault at a concert. Of course these facts are irrelevant to those who wish to continue the demonstrably foolish policy of drug prohibition and they will continue to use the tragic events of Saturday night as a justification of increased invasion of individual rights. Because that is the only way in which one can continue to argue for drug prohibition- through lies and misinformation. By preying on a natural desire to protect young people from harm they continue to enforce a policy which instead brings about further tragedy.