UK Liberty


Posted in law and order, relates to ordinary people, rhetorical questions by ukliberty on November 2, 2009

Social costs of alcohol £20bn pa.

Nearly 9,000 alcohol related deaths in 2007.

In nearly half (45%) of all violent incidents, victims believed offenders to be under the influence of alcohol.

This figure rose to 58% in cases of attacks by people they did not know.

37% of domestic violence cases involve alcohol.

In nearly a million violent attacks in 2007-08, the aggressors were believed to be drunk.

Why don’t we get excited about that? Where is the vociferous moral campaign against the horrors and evils of alcohol? Why don’t the Daily Mail, Sun and Daily Telegraph print angry columns demanding alcohol be classed as an illegal drug?

I ask this because some people don’t seem to understand Nutt’s point.

With the above in mind, re-read what Nutt said:

Another key question we have to address as a society is whether our attitude to drugs is driven because of their harms or are we engaging in a moral debate? One thing this government has done extremely well in the last ten years is to cut away much of the moral argument about drug treatments. They have moved in the direction of improving access to harm reduction treatments, an approach that, I think, is wholly endorsed by the scientific community and by the medical profession. For reasons that are not clear, the same evidence-based change has not happened in relation to the classification of drugs of misuse. I think it should happen because, while I’m not a moral philosopher, it seems to me difficult to defend a moral argument in relation to drugs if you don’t apply it to other equally harmful activities.


[update 2]

It was pointed out to me that “Booze Britain” constitutes a media-led campaign against the horrors and evils of alcohol.  This is a fair point – but I don’t recall any of the media suggesting alcohol should be made illegal.


    One Response

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    1. shadfirebird said, on November 2, 2009 at 3:20 pm

      You could make an argument that there is nothing wrong with policy made on the back of moral debate (although I personally wouldn’t like to defend that argument).

      But what I think is especially specious is defending policy based on moral debate by saying that it’s actually been formed on the basis of evidence. Nutt seems to imply that that’s what the government have done here, and I would agree.

      Of course you could also argue that this is what government does best: form policy for whatever good or bad reason, and then argue for it, not on the basis of those reasons, but on whatever basis they think will be most credulous. (I’d be considerably more comfortable defending that one…)

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