Those familiar with the hallowed halls of Bournemouth University Media School will know we have TV screens almost everywhere, every time I have walked passed one today it has shown a nervous looking Jacqui Smith (Home Secretary) talking about the fact that she once smoked cannabis while at University. Shock, horror, gasp, quick expose her to the public disdain and call for her to be stoned (again allegedly).
Is it just me that finds this a non-news story. Students, like all young people, which we all were once (I think I can just about remember being young, lots of times in fact) get drunk, do daft things, sample stuff and on the whole survive the experience to live long and fulfilling lives. This is not to say go and do drugs it is fine, that is not always the case as we know, but is it really appropriate to demonise a politician who once smoked a joint, and make it a front page story that dominates rolling news. If a Home Secretary is mainlining heroin at the desk, or indeed surviving the stress of the day with a spliff and a 'hash' brownie, then fine maybe there is a problem, a toke of a joint at 18 is not exactly suggestive of someone unfit for the role given to her by Gordon Brown. The BBC make the link in the following way: "Jacqui Smith has admitted she smoked cannabis while she was at Oxford University in the 1980s. Her disclosure came the day after Prime Minister Gordon Brown said she would head a review of UK drugs strategy - including reviewing the cannabis laws". They make no moral claim on the basis of this link, but what view are they expecting the viewer or reader to take one need ask?
This all fits within a much larger question about our politicians. Do we want people of high moral fibre, with clean records, immaculate lives, no skeletons in the closet however small, no past; or do we want normal people who have lived. Perhaps the BBC should do a survey of journalists. lawyers, police officers (anyone involved in commenting on and enforcing drug law reforms) and enquire how many of them have taken some illegal substance at some point in their lives, at least that way we would gain some balance on the issue. I don't care if the laws are relaxed, I also don't really care if people are smoking cannabis providing they don't try to drive afterwards, I do feel that making such a huge story out of it is a crime against serious journalism.
That is my rant for July, I don't do many but i enjoyed it, it was a cathartic experience, I can now relax and wait for those by-election results.