Pubdate: Thu, 3 Nov 2005
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Copyright: 2005 The Sydney Morning Herald
Author: Julia Baird
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


WHAT a curious state of affairs in Britain, when models are sorely
judged for using drugs, while politicians are excused for the same
behaviour. As the New Statesman asked, "Politicians on drugs, what's

Does this finally explain the decision to go to war in Iraq? What's
going on?

First, the model. It's been a wonderful irony that the icon of heroin
chic, the spindly legged, gaunt-cheeked Kate Moss, is now a
cautionary tale for anti-drugs campaigners.

Ever since she was secretly filmed snorting half of Colombia's cocaine
in some grubby recording studio with her unappealing rocker boyfriend
- - who someone once deliciously described as having a face like a
sweating cheese - her image has taken a serious pummelling.

The finger-thin Brit lost contracts with Burberry and Chanel among
others, and has been chastised by other sponsors. She has been painted
as the scourge of the modelling world as hypocritical fashion and
advertising executives have wiped their noses and feigned horror.

Moss's devoted fan, British columnist Julie Burchill, declared people
were just jealous and indulging in a "sumptuous banquet of
self-righteous envy because she is the one constant great hell-raiser
it is impossible to feel sorry for: no lost looks, no lost love, no
failed career, just an endless parade of drugs, boys and girls to take
or leave as she wished."

It may also have been the fact that she is a mother, and that the
evidence was graphic.

Whatever the reason for the outcry, she has been punished, has gone
off to rehab, is being investigated by police and may lose custody of
her child. Kate has been thoroughly spanked.

But David Cameron, who admitted he "erred and strayed" at university,
has got through to the final round of the Tory leadership contest
relatively unscathed. "Cannabis Cameron", perhaps because he threatens
to be a modernising influence on the stuffy Conservative Party, has
been repeatedly grilled about his personal drug use. He refused to
reveal whether he tried hard drugs in his life before politics,
declaring it was private. He said he had a "normal university
experience" and that politicians were only human. He also gained
sympathy because he is not alone.

Cameron pointed out that when the shadow home secretary called for a
tougher approach to marijuana in 2000, eight Tory shadow cabinet
members admitted having smoked it.

In the New Statesman, Simon McDonald convincingly
constructed a lineage of drug and alcohol abuse in the
British Parliament: former PM William Pitt the Younger
said he was told by his doctor to drink one bottle of
port a day, and more than obliged. William Gladstone
added opium to his coffee. A prime minister, Lord
Rosebery, was fond of cocaine.

Thirty current British MPs have admitted to dabbling in soft

You might conclude it's all right for drug users to lead the country
but not to advertise plaid scarves.

And it's not just in Britain.

Bill Clinton, famously, did not inhale. George Bush, caught on tape
talking about having used marijuana, said he would not answer any
questions because he did not want to encourage kids to do the same.
JFK took steroids, amphetamines and smoked pot with his mistress.

Here, Carmen Lawrence, Alexander Downer, the Northern Territory Chief
Minister, Clare Martin, the Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks, and the
West Australian Premier, Geoff Gallop, have admitted to smoking marijuana.

Tony Abbott confessed to having a drink laced with hallucinogens in
India, and having "one half-hearted puff of a marijuana cigarette on a
rugby tour in America".

When the NSW independent MP Richard Jones polled 37 of the 42 members
of the NSW upper house in 2002, 40 per cent said they had smoked
marijuana and a handful said they still did.

Mark Latham has shared a joint with journalists. He implied plenty of
politicians took drugs: "I think their dealers are up in the gallery,
and the pollies are just in the conga line of choofers."

Australia has demonstrated the same perverse tolerance as Britain,
though - we are startled, apparently, to learn a Neighbours actor was
sacked for drug use, but Latham's comments were largely unexplored.

Community attitudes have changed, and liberalised. We now tolerate
youthful experimentation but would view current addiction differently.
If Cameron were thought to have a habit today, he would doubtless have
not survived.

Still, it's bizarre to see models and actors chastised for behaviour
tolerated in politicians.

As Nino Culotta famously wrote, we're a weird mob.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake