If there’s one thing that’s damaged the fight against the illegal drugs trade over the years, it’s the dire warnings we’ve heard again and again about what marijuana does to your brain, and how once you take it you’re on a slippery slope that’ll end up with you crouched in a dank alley injecting heroin into your big toe. Young and not-so-young people knew from experience that this was Grade A Claptrap, and so they tended to be equally sceptical about the legitimate warnings against hard drugs. Thus the anti-drugs campaigners weakened their own case with a stupid lie.
Anyone looking at the front page of the Venerable Organ this morning might find their thoughts turning to marijuana. ‘They’re targeting kids’ the headline trumpets, beneath a massive picture of two (very photogenic) children who were caught up in the Lurgan bomb at the weekend. Now I know the VO is desperate to counter the threat of English tabloids and a headline and a picture like this does pull the punters in. But are things really so bad the VO feels compelled to go down the Grade A Claptrap route?
Dissident republicans are NOT targetting ‘kids’, or even children. They’re targetting policemen and British soldiers, and through a combination of bad luck and their own ineptness, they’ve very nearly killed these children. That was the last thing the dissidents wanted, just as the slaughter in Omagh was the last thing the Real IRA wanted. They may be reckless but they’re not that stupid: they know that killing children is bad PR for them, which is why when it happens, it’s because they’ve bungled, not because they set out to target children or civilians.
Just like the anti-drugs authorities, the VO this morning has shot itself in the bum. Keen to hammer the dissidents and boost sales, it’s gone for an omigod headline and what it hopes will be a tear-jerker picture. The thing is, if the front page is such ripe tripe, what should we expect inside?