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In reference to a conversation I had last night - Tactical Ninja

Oct. 17th, 2007

01:22 pm - In reference to a conversation I had last night

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The Hand That Feeds


You're keeping in step
In the line
Got your chin held high and you feel just fine
Because you do
What you're told
But inside your heart it is black and it's hollow and it's cold

Just how deep do you believe?
Will you bite the hand that feeds?
Will you chew until it bleeds?
Can you get up off your knees?
Are you brave enough to see?
Do you want to change it?

What if this whole crusade's
A charade
And behind it all there's a price to be paid
For the blood
On which we dine
Justified in the name of the holy and the divine

Just how deep do you believe?
Will you bite the hand that feeds?
Will you chew until it bleeds?
Can you get up off your knees?
Are you brave enough to see?
Do you want to change it?

So naive
I keep holding on to what I want to believe
I can see
But I keep holding on and on and on and on

*

Nine Inch Nails - Ephexis remix


Okay so I'm now going to add some commentary on the song. First, I'll say I have no idea what Trent Reznor was thinking when he wrote this. I've seen enough interviews with poets/authors/lyricists where people have found metaphor and whatnot in their work, and they've been like "Uh.. okay, I wasn't thinking that to be honest, I was thinking about cheesecake."

So I'm not going to postulate about what he meant by it.

I can talk about why it resonates with me. I've been doing a lot of soul searching about my beliefs and my stance on drugs. I have several reasons for feeling the way I do about it, and the not-fully-formed or studied or researched points are these:


I won't go any further into this, because most of you have heard it before and it's not really anything new. But the BZP bill has crystallised this in my mind quite a lot. I don't want to just meekly go "OK, my last avenue of personal choice for social tonics has been removed, now I'm a criminal, OK, that's fine, yes, society says I'm a loser who can't control myself, yes yes, they must be right and I must accept this."

To me, this legislation represents more than just the removal of a fairly crappy alternative to other drugs. It represents something that goes against the grain of my entire worldview - that I am responsible for myself and my actions, that I know what is best for me, and that I can make my own choices regarding how I live my life - as long as my choices are not infringing on the rights of others. To me, my freedom to be me is being threatened.

And I want to do something about it. I can't sit with myself and accept this - it makes no sense.

I firmly believe that this is a fight that won't be won in parliament. The people in parliament are limited in so many ways, and I know that if the BZP bill went to referendum, a majority of New Zealanders would vote to ban it. I think most of them would vote to ban it without really thinking beyond "Drugs are bad, that one guy went into a coma, lots of teenagers like it, it's a sheep drench, drugs are bad, ban it." And then they'd go enjoy a wine with their dinner. *sigh*

And that's my point. Most people don't ever think about it, don't question why drugs are bad but alcohol is ok, don't want to risk the possibility that there are endless, less harmful and more interesting alternatives to the one socially endorsed recreational mind altering chemical. Most people don't even care. Most people think drugs do all sorts of bad things to everyone who takes them, that lives will be destroyed, addictions formed, children deserted, wild sex in the streets, all that sort of thing. I've seen Go Ask Alice. Most people believe that it starts with a toke on a joint and leads straight down the slippery slope to full on heroin addiction.

What most people don't realise is that the reason this perspective is prevalent is that there are so many people who take recreational chemicals that aren't alcohol, who DON'T turn up in the media as junkies and schizos and whores and whatever other bad things drugs are supposed to cause. I would hesitate to put a number on it, but I'd say that a statistically significant (remember 3% is statistically significant, and I'd say it's a lot more than 3%)) percentage of our population are regular users of illegal recreational chemicals. Look around you, think about the number of people close to you. How many take drugs, that you know of? Now double it. Triple it. Who knows how many people are taking drugs regularly, and you would never know.

Because they are not allowing it to affect their lives.

They have to keep it quiet - they are successful people who have a lot to lose if the social stigma attached to drugs becomes attached to them. So the very reason that society thinks drugs turn people into losers is that society will view people as losers if it becomes aware that they take drugs, which means that the non-loser people who take drugs have to hide it. And then the only people that get noticed are the rare few that lose it, but because they are the ones that get noticed, the loser label gets applied to all recreational drug users.

Nasty wee cycle we have going there.

Anyway, back to Trent and what he wasn't saying. I want to stand up. This line in an article I posted a while back really struck me, and I've been thinking about it since:

"This timidity is pretty inexcusable when you think of what people have been willing to stand up for in the name of ending hypocrisy. Think of activists in the 1970s who spoke out against laws banning gay sex because honesty and principles counted."

I want to stand up. I want to become a public advocate of realistic attitudes to drug use in society. I'm tired of buying into the 'harm minimisation' argument when the only real harms I can see associated with illegal drugs (by comparison to other harms from other behaviours) are caused by the very fact that they are illegal.

I have a lot to lose. I understand what could happen if I were to really stand up and make myself known. But I don't see how attitudes are ever going to change if people who successfully integrate recreational drug use into their lives, while still functioning as contributing members of society, remain hidden from the public view. I know I'm tilting at windmills. I know that on my own, I've Buckleys of making a difference.

But if I don't try, how can I really say that I back what I believe? How can I consider myself to be someone of integrity if I hide something that I don't even believe is wrong, for the sake of fitting in with societal expectations?

I think Trent was asking if you have the stones to stand up for what you believe in. And if you do, have you considered what the potential sacrifice may be, and are you prepared to accept that? Are you prepared to chew until it bleeds? And the last couple of lines - are you prepared to deal with the possibility that it may all be for nothing? Are you prepared to change your belief if it turns out to be hollow?

These are the things I've been thinking about, and that's why this song resonates with me at the moment.

I have no idea where to start. It's so big. But yes, I believe in this enough to risk what I have for it.

` for dragonvyxn

Yes, I know posting lyrics is wanky and cliched and 13. Bite me.

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:lifeofreilly
Date:October 17th, 2007 12:27 am (UTC)

okay...

(Link)
Bite you *where*? :)
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From:tatjna
Date:October 17th, 2007 12:29 am (UTC)

Re: okay...

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There are a number of options. This requires calculation and maybe graphs.
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[User Picture]
From:dragonvyxn
Date:October 17th, 2007 12:28 am (UTC)
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i thought you were going to have commentary or thoughts on the song... wel, to that, i say this:

Laura Veirs, Year of Meteors

Galaxies

When you sing, when you sing
The stars fill up my eyes
Galaxies pour down my cheeks
Galaxies…they flood the street
Galaxies

When we dance, when we dance
Eels and sea grass float on by
I’m 10,000 leagues beneath the sea
10,000 leagues…beneath the green
10,000 leagues

When we kiss, when we kiss
Bears and boulders vibrate through the air
Gravity is dead you see
No gravity…all I need is beating red
No gravity…
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From:tatjna
Date:October 17th, 2007 12:29 am (UTC)
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Just for you, I will add some commentary. ;-)
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:October 17th, 2007 12:46 am (UTC)
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Yes!

:)
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From:tatjna
Date:October 17th, 2007 01:18 am (UTC)
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*tacklehugs* Read the added commentary, and see if your answer is still yes.
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[User Picture]
From:allyn
Date:October 17th, 2007 01:48 am (UTC)

"posting lyrics is wanky and cliched and 13"

(Link)
really?

that doesn't hinder me at all
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[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:October 17th, 2007 01:55 am (UTC)

Re: "posting lyrics is wanky and cliched and 13"

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Hehehe, that was a facetious comment in reply to someone who told me that recently.

It doesn't hinder me either.
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From:danjite
Date:October 17th, 2007 01:52 am (UTC)
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1) Is (consensual) "wild sex in the streets" actually, technically illegal there?

2) Mr. Reilly tok care of 2)

3) *Tacklehugs* for combining passion, logic and social responsibility.

4) Using currently available numbers there is no sane reason why alcohol should be legal. As moving towards prohibition of alcohol WILL NOT WORK, creating a standard that substances which are not provably more dangerous than alcohol might be sensible.

5) Dollars-to-donuts, that the alcohol industry is spending money to get BZP banned.

6) See 3) That and a long conversation over tea.

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From:richdrich
Date:October 17th, 2007 01:54 am (UTC)
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Isn't the hon member for Ohairu-Belmont a wholly owned subsidiary of the alcohol/tobacco industry?
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From:tatjna
Date:October 17th, 2007 01:56 am (UTC)
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It is illegal, unfortunately. Probably for the same reason drugs are.
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From:mundens
Date:October 17th, 2007 03:29 am (UTC)
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Go you. You have my support. I don't go round yelling it from the roof tops, but I never deny drug use, even at work. I also object when anyone says anything stupid about it. Though to be honest I haven't used anything except adrenalin, endorphins, alcohol, and nicotine in years, just haven't felt the need or been around it enough.

To slightly paraphrase Oscar Wilde :
Laws are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men
I use this icon as my default for a reason! Fight Club and V are some of my favourite movies, not just because of the message of resistance but because they point out that when you resist a monster you risk becoming one.

You say : I have yet to hear a convincing logical argument against the use of artificial means to alter one's mindstate for recreation

If there was one, then sport, exercise, and non-procreational sex would have to be made illegal too. People exercise and play sport and have sex because it artificially generates endorphins and/or releases adrenalin. Those drugs are designed to be generated when we are in "fight or flight" mode, when we are in danger, not just because we enjoy it, so it is artificial when we use them for our enjoyment.

Playing sport and exercising is really just an artificial means of inducing a "Fight or flight" response in our bodies, and thus enjoying the endorphin and adrenalin rushes. The "playing" you saw last Saturday night at the Ball, BTW, is just another method of generating the same effect as playing sport. "Runner's high", "being in the zone", "subspace", "satori", "speaking in tongues", etc, are all aspects of artificial mind state alteration utilizing the body's own resources to manufacture the ingredients.

The point being is that there is no real difference between causing your altered state by manufacturing the chemicals in your own body, and ingesting one's manufactured outside your body.

Which leads me to one way of making this readily apparent. We need a nano-machine culture that sits in one's body and manufactures BZP (or your choice of recreational chemical) in situ, in response to a specific stimuli, perhaps a certain psytrance track? Or we need some toads to lick. :)
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From:_fustian
Date:October 17th, 2007 05:20 am (UTC)

Mad props!

(Link)
Everybody wants to live in a lie
But why should we delude ourselves?
It's not as if we can't see something's wrong
Where's the duty to what's right?
Intentions end with empty words
And chaos replaces order


VNV Nation, Nemesis

Ronan's crypto-authoritarian references to "Duty" and "Order" aside, as a call to action—to obey conscience rather than meekly accepting the dominant paradigm and allowing what's truly worthwhile about our societies to be further eroded—this song really gets me going. Those of us who have the capacity to do so should follow our hearts in attempting to move the world towards a better future for everyone. (Insert cautious caveats about the difficulties inherent in getting that right.) You have my full support and admiration—although you also have my deep concern for your wellbeing if you do choose to walk this dangerous path.
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From:tatjna
Date:October 17th, 2007 06:29 am (UTC)

Re: Mad props!

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Hey, thanks. ;-)

I have deep concerns for my wellbeing as well. I've thought a lot about the things that could potentially happen and how they would affect me and mine. At some point I have to stop considering it and make a decision.

Last night, I thought about me getting, say, incarcerated. I asked myself, if I were put in prison for following my beliefs, would I still be a daughter my Mum could be proud of? And the answer to that seems to be that my Mum brought me up to stand up for what I believe in, to question things and to be honest. So, I think, yes I would still be someone my Mum could be proud of. And I figure that who I am is vastly more important than what happens to me.

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From:fuvenusrs
Date:October 17th, 2007 07:24 am (UTC)

Mmmm fingerfood

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I don't exactly know how to help you, but if you need me, you know where to find me :)
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From:tatjna
Date:October 17th, 2007 07:27 am (UTC)

Re: Mmmm fingerfood

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Even just knowing that all my friends aren't suddenly sidling away in case my insanity rubs off on them, is an awesome thing.

*hugs*
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From:happyinmotion
Date:October 17th, 2007 07:44 am (UTC)
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You'll be wanting to make reference to this report then, from that wel-known bunch of long-haired, radical-thinking, hippy layabouts, the UK Parliament's Science Select Committee:

Drug classification rethink urged

The graph at the end is particularly relevant.

And while we're at it:
The incrowd know that the shell is thin
So they all protect the cage they're in
Get drunk and stoned and wrecked again
No tears of rage, no cries of pain
Nothing ventured, nothing gained
In smalltown England
Because the world outside the pint in hand
Is all so hard to understand
And if visions of the world come clear
They're not allowed to interfere
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From:wildilocks
Date:October 17th, 2007 07:56 am (UTC)
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I agree with you in many ways - but I also have to have a pretty hard line stance when it comes to my business. I have had issues now with two employees who didn't know how to keep work and "recreational" activities strictly separate. This affected their peformance quite seriously, to the point they were a liability.

Now you are an exceptional human being. But unfortunately - many of the masses just plain aren't - and when they can't work out the difference between turning up to work functioning at about 50% or less of their normal capacity, even with many drugs still illegal, then I worry about how they'd define their limits at all with all restrictions removed. But then - I think The Netherlands manages to function without too much trouble, so maybe it really is a case that we need to see more acceptance of drugs other than alcohol. Graaargh!
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From:tatjna
Date:October 17th, 2007 08:07 am (UTC)
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One of the things that occurs to me is that pretty much everyone who wants to use drugs, does use drugs. They do it at great personal risk, with limited access to information, testing equipment, and reliability of what they are buying, but they do it. So I'm inclined to think that the legality would not make that much difference to the number of people who do it.

Another thing (and this is purely anecdotal) is that my brother and I were both exposed to alcohol as children. It was never hidden from us, we were allowed to try it, and by the time we got to the age where access to it with friends was easier, we were already 'over the thrill.' Not that we didn't do silly things because we were teenagers, but we got over it quickly and didn't get into that binge drinking thing that so many people get into. I wonder if this could be correlated to drug education? I'm not saying "Give drugs to kids" - more that if kids grew up knowing about drugs alongside alcohol, with freely available information that didn't just say "Don't do it, it's bad and naughty!", they may have a more responsible (or at least not rebellion-driven) approach as adults. I don't know. That's what happened with us. But my parents were pretty exceptional people.
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From:tar_miriel
Date:October 17th, 2007 09:41 am (UTC)

have you the stones?

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Of course you do, you got more stones than anyone I know.

Your dilemma reminds me of Maek Twight's feelings about high-risk alpine climbing and belief that it's not real if you don't actually commit to the ideal. For my own part drugs aren't worth it (and I've had to live with the mistakes of outing myself wrt leather identity).

Make your choice wisely
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From:tatjna
Date:October 17th, 2007 10:00 am (UTC)

Re: have you the stones?

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Thing is, it's mostly not even about the drugs. It's about the stigmatisation and criminalisation of a behaviour because people somehow believe it's morally wrong, and about the limitation of my personal freedom with very minimal evidence for support of such an action, without my consent and by people who are making judgements based on assumption not education, who are, for the most part hypocrites. See my bio page for how I feel about duplicity and dishonesty.

Never mind the wtf-ness of it all.
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From:dragonvyxn
Date:October 17th, 2007 04:08 pm (UTC)
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this is a really neat way for this song to come into a person... i think it does speak about risk taking and changing your life despite all the various fears and whatever... i also just woke up fairly recently so i might not be coherent yet. i think you have many valid points...i live in berkeley, where pot is smoked by more people than i can shake a stick at, and it's just not really spoken about. it's done, sure, and these are professional types of people, but nothing happens to their careers because they don't want it to. it's almost like the difference between smart ambitious types doing drugs and lazy feckless types doing drugs. success happens because it's going to happen to a person who is working for it, drugs have nothing to do with it.

alcohol is a poison, and it should be more stringently regulated. how many drunk driving incidents are there? alcohol poisoning? you know where i'm going. alcohol and tobacco are the real demons. no one's going to change the way the system is, and that's the problem. i think gov'ts make tons of money from the fact that the illegal drugs *are* illegal. they get a cut of the crazy money cake pot, heroin and coke make. that's what's up. the other shit getting tied into it, that's just handwaving for appearances because a relatively healthy drug got popular and took $ away from someone important. well, ok, i don't know if there's that kind of corruption in new zealand, but it's the only thing i can thinkof that makes sense, because it's obvious that the rest of it's bs. bzp isn't harmful, isn't a gateway. it's denying someone profit.

lovely commentary :) thank you!
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From:tatjna
Date:October 17th, 2007 05:57 pm (UTC)
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I don't think NZ is quite the same (having no land borders makes the dynamic quite different), and I'm having trouble reconciling the idea that someone is sitting there getting a fat wallet of the limitation to my freedom, and the danger to so many people. But me having trouble with it and it being impossible are two different things. I want to think that our politicians really do have our best interests at heart and that in this case they are just uneducated and following the beliefs they've been taught rather than really thinking.

Because that would mean that with some education they might have a change of heart and get realistic about it. If they are corrupt, there's no chance of reasonable approaches making a difference. It will be interesting to find out. *hugs*
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 20th, 2007 08:38 am (UTC)

It's enough to make you vote Libertarianz

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I like your style.

Consider joining the Libz. That's what I did, now I'm the drugs spokesman. :-) Or NORML, who don't look at you funny if you haven't read "Atlas Shrugged".

Also, this Wednesday (24 October) morning the Health Select Committee is hearing remaining oral submissions on the Misuse of Drugs (Classification of BZP) Amendment Bill. Including from the Libz and (so I'm told) the NZ Drug Foundation and STANZ. Should be interesting. It's open to the public.
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From:tatjna
Date:October 20th, 2007 03:08 pm (UTC)

Re: It's enough to make you vote Libertarianz

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That's interesting. Means my submission has already been heard. I referred to STANZ in mine, as did several other people. Might lend some weight.

Sadly I'll be at work, but will be keeping ears open for any news.
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