For those who’ve not heard about it, I link below to one of the most inflammatory reports (in the Daily Mail), but see also the Daily Telegraph. In brief, some younger teenagers (14-15) had an unsupervised party at which alcohol and unspecified drugs were consumed, some altercations took place and in the morning a young female party guest was dead. The father of the precocious 14-year old party hostess was promptly arrested for child abandonment and drug possession, as rumour has it that the stash was his, and headlines are confidently and deliberately implying a causal link between so-called “ecstasy” and the death.
Although I was able to get in on the online discussion at the Telegraph, the Mail, which contained the most inaccurate and unsubstantiated reports of all, disallowed commentary on the piece and had an exculpatory disclaimer at the bottom which explained that
“Sorry we are unable to accept comments for legal reasons.”
I don’t actually know if I’ve ever seen that on an online newspaper site before!
Either you can add comments or you can’t, but it doesn’t necessarily tell you why, other than that they’ve stopped taking comments on a particular story that’s no longer fresh or has reached capacity. I cannot imagine any legitimate reason for this caveat, other than that the Mail is aware that they already have made spurious and possibly illegal allegations themselves, and cannot therefore provide a forum for that to be publicly challenged.
If I were Ecstasy, I’d sue!
Below is the headline and below that the link and then below that, most of my letter to the Mail. I invite all concerned with correcting misinformation to weigh in on the topic with letters to the Mail, the Telegraph, the Guardian and any other news outlet carrying the story.
“Friends Post Touching Tribute Video Online For 15-Year-Old Girl Who Died After Taking Ecstasy At A Party At Academic’s Home”
Regarding the recent story on the tragic death of young Isobel Reilly, attributed to Arthur Martin, Tamara Cohen and Lucy Collins (please forward this response to them individually as well):
I think it is extremely irresponsible of them and the Mail to publish a headline that asserts affirmatively and definitively that the girl died because of ecstasy when there has been no post-mortem, the cause of death has not been established, and it has not even been verified that MDMA (a specific molecule) was found at the scene!
That is utterly outrageous license with the truth and I can pretty much guarantee that when a toxicology report is done, the truth will turn out to be far more complicated. By then, most people won’t be reading the story. The damage of your mis-informative headline will already have been done.
All that is presently known is that a teenager died at a drunken party that got out of hand. It was rumoured that an array of substances, including ecstasy, were present. Quite frankly, I’d be surprised if those kids were able to get a hold of any genuine MDMA – I certainly can’t, so God knows what it was that they were calling that!
Either way, in almost every such case of which I’m aware the actual cause of death in so-called ecstasy fatalities is because of a toxic cocktail of substances, the worst culprit amongst which is ALWAYS alcohol.
Remember the two drunk guys who had about a million drugs in their systems and died a few months ago? You know, the “mephedrone deaths” – only they weren’t! No matter, let’s ban mephedrone anyway! If people would just stick to getting wasted on alcohol and not keep mixing it with all this weird crap, I guess we wouldn’t have this problem, is that what you’re saying?
Or, there are cases of water-poisoning, again due to ignorance of the dry mouth sensations that can occur when you’re rolling. It would be almost impossible to die if one took the correct dosage of MDMA by itself, without other drugs or alcohol in the system or over-hydrating or having some underlying physiological abnormality. Maybe a brick could fall on you from a great height, but otherwise- pretty darn safe.
Yet every time some ignorant kid dies, because of their ignorance which is a direct result of the prohibition, hysterical stories like the one the Mail published try to whip things up in a frenzy and get people all scared about how dangerous this drug is. The statistics show that despite tragic deaths like that of the sadly uninformed Miss Reilly, it is really not very dangerous at all. This is the truth James Nutt was fired for telling, but you cannot lie with the statistics and it is still the truth. Instead of using this terrible incident as another weak excuse to villainize a substance that in fact has many beneficial uses, the Mail should recognize the true story here and scoop it!
Can’t you see it? It’s staring you in the face!
Let me help you: the story is that we need to move away from drug prohibition and towards decriminalization, dispersal of non-biased, non-religiously motivated information; ergo: harm reduction.
Isobel Reilly might not be dead today if MDMA were not illegal and if there were not a culture of fear around telling the truth about drugs. Who knows what precious time was lost as fear of the police delayed calling for help, a common story in such cases?
Isobel Reilly would almost certainly not be dead today if she had not consumed a fatal combination of ALCOHOL mixed with a variety of other substances, one of which may turn out to be MDMA. Not to be crass but I could wager a stake that this will be the result of the post mortem. If the girl had nothing in her system but for an average dose of MDMA and died anyway, I will eat my copy of PIHKAL.
So why don’t you get the real story? Every medication at the pharmacy says “do not take with alcohol”. It is the same for drugs such as MDMA, Ketamine, etcetera. But because some drugs are illegal, they don’t come with advice about how to use them safely. I am incredibly frustrated at mainstream media’s refusal to take an intelligent look at the real issues that surround the “war on some people who use some drugs”, as Charlotte Walsh of the Drug Equality Alliance wittily and correctly terms it.
Come on you guys! Arthur, Tamara, Lucy…not to be cheezy but…have you never smoked a spliff and been inspired by Bob Marley, taken a pill and discovered what dancing really is, eaten some mushrooms at a festival and had a magical night beneath the stars? If not, what is wrong with you? In a non-prohibition culture, in which people were afforded more choices of how to play with and enjoy their own inner landscape, I think you’d find a drop-off in alcoholism, cigarette smoking, violence and cocaine.
The whole personal computer revolution was dreamed up by a bunch of acid heads in California. Guess we should’ve just locked Steve Jobs in a cold, dark, cell and thrown away the key, eh? No I-pod for you Arthur, Tamara and Lucy!
The best music and art has been made by people who have experienced altered states. Would the world be a better place if Carl Sagan, the most brilliant astronomer of the last century, had spent his life in prison because of his love of a good joint? Should we jail all the movie stars, poets, chefs, sailors, teachers, dancers, therapists, and so on who like to get high rather than drunk? And make the world a better place? Oh really?
So when may I expect the Mail to start telling the truth about this?
Isobel Reilly isn’t dead because MDMA is a dangerous and righteously banned substance. She is dead because of an alcohol-addicted, pharmaceutical company-controlled, culture of prohibition towards other mind and mood altering substances; and the ignorance of toxicity hazards that such a culture fosters.
The truth is, right now, no-one knows the exact physical reason why Miss Reilly didn’t make it. But I can tell you without any hesitation whatsoever that it is NOT because MDMA is poisonous nor does her devastatingly premature death justify its present absurd status as a banned substance.
I will be following this case and urge others to do so too. I will update this page with any response from the Daily Mail or its writers.