New Internationalist

Letters

Issue 143

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[image, unknown] LETTERS

[image, unknown] DRUGS[image, unknown]

Cartoon by R. K. Laxman. Seductive heroin

To say that heroin is less addictive than nicotine is like saying bath water is not as wet as rain.

And while it may be true that heroin does no permanent long-term physical damage but since one of its short-term side effects might be death, the point is surely academic.

Chris Brazier also talks of those people who ‘use the drug regularly but are not addicted.’ If they use it regularly, how do they know? You only find how much you need something when you try to give it up. Heroin is a very seductive drug. It can destroy one’s better judgement, especially in relation to itself. It might take months, even years to establish a daily addiction but one thing is certain - it is based on regular use. So don’t start.

The article blames the physical degradation of the addict on external circumstances. Yet the more affluent addicts in the 1960s using legally prescribed uncut heroin showed the same tendency towards poisoned wrists and collapsed veins. If you take heroin you know you are doing yourself damage. Self-mutilation is implicit in the needle going into the vein.

The danger of Chris Brazier’s ‘plain facts’ is that they are identical with the justifications that addicts use to defend their addiction.

An ex-addict
Glasgow, UK

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Needle point

In his irresponsible article ‘Dealing with Dreams’ Mr Brazier suggests that heroin is a relatively harmless drug and blames the press for turning out sensational stories on heroin addiction.

Here on Merseyside, heroin abuse has reached epidemic proportions. The press is full of unsensational but tragic stories of teenage addicts.

Your article does not even consider the problem of women who take heroin during pregnancy and give birth to babies who are already addicted. Some of the most harrowing sounds ever heard are the screams of a new-born baby undergoing withdrawal symptoms.

Chris Brazier makes the traffickers into some kind of heroes, implying that the Third World growers get a fairer price than they would for a legal trade. Yet later in the magazine we see that the street price is between 200 and 600 times higher than the price the grower gets. If this price differential existed in the tea or coffee trade the merchants would rightly be condemned by you.

Articles like Mr Brazier’s are dangerous because they lead young people to believe that they can experiment with hard drugs with impunity. They find out too late that this is not the case. I am cancelling my subscription to your magazine.

D W Forster
Liverpool, UK

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Wheeling and dealing

Your ‘consumer guide to drugs’ should have underlined the effects on other people of the drugs you may take. For instance. alcohol kills on a large scale and especially when its use is combined with the use of automobiles.

You maybe right in trying to correct the bias about the dangers and effects of the drugs we all use but you should be very careful not to serve the interests of the powerful people behind the drug trade.

Pierre Gentil
Chatou, France

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Smokescreen

Don Aitken implies in your October issue that smoking bans will be unenforcible. create massive profits for racketeers and brand smokers as criminals. A ban on sales would do this. But selective bans on usage would only cause problems of enforcement.

It is naive to acknowledge the legitimacy of people deciding to smoke whilst at the same time ignoring the implications for the non-smoker. Working all day in a small office with someone who smokes more than 20 a day, a non-smoker would inhale the equivalent of ten cigarettes. There are NO exceptions to the rule that says ‘there are no freedoms without accompanying responsibilities.’

A Wilkins
Bristol, UK

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Turning on the World

Huw Richards’ article surprisingly made no reference to Michael Hollingshead. the man primarily responsible for disseminating LSD throughout North America. Indeed it was Holdingshead who ‘turned on’ Leary and Ginsberg in ‘61. Four years later he introduced the drug to Britain.

His ‘The Man who Turned on the World’ (Blond & Briggs, London 1973) is well worth reading.

Michael Pearson - Smith Buxton
Derbyshire, UK

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[image, unknown] AFRICA[image, unknown]

Evil under the sun

You castigate Canada for expecting two-thirds of its financial aid to be spent on Canadian goods (NI 139). But it seems reasonable that we should try to assure that our hard-won wealth is not wasted on grandiose schemes, prestige projects and armaments.

Let’s look at two aid recipients. Tanzania and Ethiopia. Both of them are suffering from governments with tunnel vision, blinkered by Marxist-Leninist dogma.

Progress in Tanzania is strangled by idealist bigotry.

No further aid should be given to that country until its people are given more freedom to manage their own lives and activities. The country needs a lot less socialism and a great deal more private enterprise.

Ethiopia suffers even more. Central government uses a reluctant conscript army to oppress the people, exterminate minorities and destroy proven agricultural methods that once fed the whole country.

Evil is not any the less because it struts under Communist banners. And doesn’t our aid to these countries encourage this evil?

Janic K Magetic Jnr
London
Ontario, Canada

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Hidden hands

On reading your ‘Why Africa stays poor’ issue I found one reason amply illustrated within the magazine itself. For, apart from Debbie Taylor’s excellent and moving article, women are invisible in your pages - hidden by terms like ‘peasant farmer’ and ‘small producer.’

Until the reality of who grows the food in Africa is acknowledged by governments and aid agencies the women will not get the recognition and support they need to produce enough for all.

Vicky Singh
Preston
Lancashire UK

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Leprosy

Robert Nurdeen’s ‘Standing on no feet’ article in your September issue perpetuates myths which hamper the control of leprosy.

The use of the word ‘leper’ is old-fashioned and misleading, and most people working in the field avoid that term.

To focus on patients without feet - which is an extremely rare occurrence - fortifies the popular misconception that the disease is synonymous with deformity. This image leads to stigma and stops patients without deformity from coming for treatment.

It also prevents newly-ill people from accepting the diagnosis and seeking help. Early diagnosis and treatment together with the propagation of the true facts about leprosy are the key factors in its control and in the prevention of deformity.

John Dalton
Arogya Again

(originaly Seva Nilayam Leprosy Clinic)
Aundipatti, Madurai
South India

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Animal farms

Aidan Harrison’s reference to animals as an ‘indigenous source of protein’ (NI 139) is species-ism on a grand scale. I am also an indigenous source of protein, especially as my diet is a raw food vegan one. I wonder why he hasn’t considered eating me.

Is Mr Harrison seriously suggesting that the 14 million cattle, 28 million sheep, eight million pigs and 142 million poultry in the UK are existing on grassland that is unsuitable for crops and forests’? Eighty per cent of all arable land is devoted to animal upkeep. In Britain, humans are outnumbered four to one by the animal population of 200 million.

Mr Harrison’s support of a meat-centred diet is the reason we are not self-sufficient in food. Of the 46 million acres at present devoted to agriculture, 90 per cent is used either for grazing animals or for growing their feed crops. Please, let’s have food for humans, not for animals.

David Bibby and Ann Tailor Cardiff
UK

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Old school ties

Mr Clark’s letter (NI 140) illustrates the limited view of society which is perpetuated in public schools.

Privileged by a full LEA grant I attended a public school, but I was one of only four such kids out of a group of seventy. Perhaps as many as 40 per cent did come from ‘broken’ homes, but they all knew who their fathers were (wealthy, alimony-paying tax exiles for the most part).

If anyone’s father was unemployed it was because he was a freelance journalist, not a redundant shipbuilder.

This so-called ‘excellent’ social mix just helps bolster the myth that the world is educated and middle-class and that even the poorest are comfortable. It’s small wonder that public schoolboys, brought up on authoritarianism, industriousness and liver and now’ occupying key positions in society - fail to tackle the problems of the majority of people in the world who do not conform to their own experience.

Stuart Morris
London 5W2, UK

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Aiding by saving

I am unemployed, bringing up two children alone on social security, yet realise that by comparison with the majority of the world’s women I am well-off. I give what I can to the Third World aid campaigns, buy what I can through Oxfam, etc., yet know that there is more I could do, if only...

For instance I have a small amount of savings which I would love to be able to invest in such a way that they were helping lift Third World local communities from poverty to self-sufficiency. Oxfam’s Hungry for Change Campaign might be the ideal springboard for the development of some savings scheme which would be reliable, offer perhaps a little interest as a hedge against inflation, but finance practical Third World development at its most basic and effective level. Perhaps such a scheme already exists - if not, could one be established soon’?

VA Wallace
High Wycombe
Bucks, UK

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