Heroin In Victoria
The issue of the decriminalization of heroin in Victoria began during an apparent increase of the use of heroin in the Victoria suburbs. During early December, 1995, the public had heard that heroin was being used in a large scale by some members of the community, in particular Asians, living in inner Melbourne suburbs like Footscray. The media has presented both arguments in favor and against the decriminalization of heroin. It has given fair and strong arguments to support both sides of the argument. The first article, a letter to the editor called "Don't Rush on Drugs", gives strong arguments opposing decriminalization. The second article is an editorial called "A Fresh Look At Drugs", gives an in depth look at the issue of the decriminalization of heroin. The third article called "Legal Drugs Also Kill", is against decriminalization but also opposes other drugs.
The argument for decriminalization of heroin is strongly shown in a letter to the editor printed in the Herald-Sun on the 12th of March 1996 (Appendix 1), by Mr. Warwick Murphy. The headline "Don't Rush On Drugs" is totally misleading as it makes the reader think that decriminalization is occurring now. Murphy argues that promoters of decriminalization are academics and researchers; those most distant from people who will be affected by any decriminalization. Then Mr. Murphy goes on arguing, "Those against it are parents, counselors, rehabilitation staff and, most importantly, the former users; those who are involved directly with people using drugs".
The author uses logical evidence to convince the audience to start listing to those most affected by heroin. Murphy concludes his letter strongly by suggesting that "decriminalization without first having tried these other options seems to be jumping too far too soon". Murphy ends the letter acknowledging himself as the project officer for Drug-Arm, Victoria.
Article two, " A Fresh Look At Drugs", an editorial printed in The Age on the 4th of January 1996 (Appendix 2), supports the Premiers Drug Advisory Council by saying it "should be applauded for its energetic and imaginative approach". The author writes "the alarming truth is that Victoria's present drug laws are not working". The article suggests that the council could look at aspects of the Dutch and British approaches, "The legalization or semi-legalization of addictive drugs might have a positive long-term effect by undermining the black market, thereby reducing profit incentives and the motivation for criminal activity".
The article uses very strong logical evidence in order to make the audience believe decriminalization is a good idea. The article suggests decriminalization might sever the connection between addiction and infectious diseases. This proves that this article approves the idea of decriminalization or at least semi-legalization of heroin.
Article three, "Legal Drugs Also Kill", a feature article printed in the Herald-Sun on the 25th of January 1996 (Appendix 3), by Dr. Joe Santamaria. Dr. Santamaria begins with, "We should be concerned about the Premier's drug advisory council inquiry on illicit drugs". He goes on to quote the councils' persuasive terms like "harm minimization", "normalization" and "unwinnable war" in order to put down the council. Then the author uses language like methadone and drug-related deaths to try to scare the audience. Dr. Santamaria quotes Dr. Alex Wodak's opinion which supports the decriminalization , "heroin is dangerous because it is prohibited, rather than prohibited because it is dangerous".
Throughout the article, the author has used scare techniques which are designed to influence the reader into thinking that heroin is evil. He has also added a photo which shows someone injecting himself with heroin; another attempt by the author to scare the reader.
All three articles have adopted different approaches to the issue of decriminalization of heroin. It can be said that the first two articles have maintained a high level of objectiveness. The last article has arguments for both sides of the issue, but the author still tends to object to the decriminalization of heroin.
The above mentioned articles are only a few examples of writings which have appeared in the media in the last few months. The issue of the decriminalization of heroin will remain a controversy and will be disputed in the media for a long time or until heroin is decriminalized.