Monday, November 02, 2009

Nutt Sacked: Why? What'd he say?

Is this ^ the man who sacked the good Professor?
Thanks to

Alan Johnson Says that Prof Nutt was sacked for campaigning against the Home Office policy.

What exactly was the campaigning message that so offended the Mr Johnson and the Home Office officials?

I have pasted selections from Professor Nutt's position statement below, with commentary from Sir Humphrey. [You can read the whole paper here]

A Gloomy Day in the life of Alan Johnson

Scene: Home Office office of official officer, seated. Home Secretary Johnson is sitting uneasily opposite, looking brow beaten.

Sir Humphrey: Here is Nutt's paper, Home Secretary. I am sure you have read it and taken it in, so I just wish to draw your attention to some of the more interesting items relating to the present crisis: Nutt says:

...we need to improve the general understanding of relative harms. I think we need to educate people about drug harms in relation to the harms of other activities in life, so that it is possible for them to make sensible decisions about relative harms. One of the ways we are thinking of doing this is through using a technique called multicriteria decision-making...a proven technology, which I think could well be applied to something ... as difficult as ... drug harms.

Sir Humphrey: That seems sufficiently obscure, Home Secretary, to be safe from Mail readers, but all he has to do is to change it into an acronym, MCDM, and it could appear as the antidote to MDMA, thus giving people the impression that no harm would come from taking MDMA because they could always get some MCDM from A&E.

Next, we find this:
Nutt says:

...we should gather evidence about the impact of change of classification – something we are not routinely doing at present. We do not know the effects of downgrading cannabis from B to C. There was a fall in use but we do not know whether this was related to reclassification.

Sir Humphrey: I am sure that you can see that this is dangerous stuff. As you know, information is power, and the kind of information that Nutt is seeking could lead to a total overthrow of law and order from Land's end to John O'Groats. Information is power, and so we Must control the information if we are to keep control of power in this country, to keep anarchy off the streets of London, of Manchester of Glasgow. Not to mention Belfast and Londonderry. You do not want to be responsible for a drug-fuelled sequel to the Troubles, so you home Secretary? I am bound to advise you that it would be a brave decision to go down the road of gathering data that might undermine the wishes of the Policing Agencies. Very brave indeed.

Now we come to the real deal, to the heart of the matter: Nutt says:

I think we have to accept young people like to experiment – with drugs and other potentially harmful activities – and what we should be doing in all of this is to protect them from harm at this stage of their lives. We therefore have to provide more accurate and credible information. If you think that scaring kids will stop them using, you’re probably wrong. They are often quite knowledgeable about drugs and the Internet has made access to information extremely simple. We have to tell them the truth, so that they use us as their preferred source of information.

A fully scientifically-based Misuse of Drugs Act where drug classification accurately reflects harms would be a powerful educational tool. Using the Act in a political way to give messages other than those relating to relative harms undermines the Act and does great damage to the educational message.

Sir Humphrey: This is pretty inflammatory stuff. This is the kind of thing that they talk about in the Green Gathering. "protect them from harm??" This is Nanny State material, Home Secretary. You don't want to have to face that accusation across the floor of the house do you, Home Secretary?

But this is the most abhorrent part: Nutt dares to raise the question of morality. He, a Professor of psychiatry, dares to raise an ethical question. He is clearly off his manor here, Home Secretary. Listen. Listen to this:

Another key question we have to address as a society is whether our attitude to drugs is driven because of their harms or are we engaging in a moral debate?

What does he, a scientist, know about morality. It is we, we in the Home Office, who decide what is moral in this country! This is our remit! This is what we have been doing for hundreds of years!

And here's the sting in the tail:

I think [evidence based change] should happen because, while I’m not a moral philosopher, it seems to me difficult to defend a moral argument in relation to drugs if you don’t apply it to other equally harmful activities.

Sir Humphrey: Difficult to defend!? It will take months of bluster, obfuscation and economies with the truth if that question is let out of the bag. This man wants evidence based change. For 600 years the Home Office has been funcitoning perfectly well with making official judgments, and now this scienist, this psychiatrist, this loony doctor, this dare I say it, this Nutter thinks he can walz in and start ramming evidence based change down our thorats. Well, he's got another think coming, Home Secretary. He's got another think coming.

You must rid yourself of this turbulent scientist!

I have here a paper for his immediate removal from office.
Sign here... and here. Thank you Home Secretary.
You may go now.

[Alan Johnson leaves the office, shutting the door behind him]

Sir Humphrey: [whispers to himself] may go and face the music. You have got 2 weeks trying to clean the political shit off the walls, and then you'll probably have to resign, which puts paid to your leadership bid and your dangerous dalliance with Proportional Representation. Yess...soon I will have a new Home Secretary.. hahahahahahahah [fade Sir humphrey]

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