Monday, May 28, 2007

Minister Tony Clement or: How Canadians should learn to stop worrying about drug addicts

The good old straw man fallacy is working overtime for Conservatives again. This time it's the method of reasoning against safe-injection sites. Here's how it goes:

1. you think up an issue ("What about safe-injection sites?")

2. you poll for the views of Canadians (many believe these sites reduce harm to the community)
3. you check your own beliefs ("illegal drug use? Bad....")

4. in case 3 opposes 2 (regardless of any facts of course), you - by the strongest means possible - shoot down each and every opposing argument by misrepresenting the opponent's position ("for God's sake, call them myths"), and then refuting the misrepresentation.
5. you spread the word (the "Debunking the Myths" document).

And when I say by the strongest means, I mean the strongest means.

Ottawa debunks safe-injection site myths
Federal health minister's top adviser targets Vancouver's Insite facility
Peter O'Neil, CanWest News Service
Published: Monday, May 28, 2007
OTTAWA -- The top policy adviser to Health Minister Tony Clement ordered federal officials to debunk five "myths"about Vancouver's Safe Injection Site, just before Clement announced his refusal last year to extend the site's permit. [...]

The Debunking the Myths document was delivered to Jo Kennelly, Clement's senior policy adviser, only days after other Health Canada internal briefing notes and media analysis described the facility's progress and public support in positive terms.
The [Debunking the Myths] document [...] declared there were five widely held but false public views: that safe injection sites are "commonly used" in other countries; they operate "all across Canada;" they are legal; they present "a complete solution" to drug-use harms; and that the safe-injection site "has the complete support of the community."

It doesn't matter what YOU think, what matters is what the New Government TELLS YOU to think. Are you still with me?

Each of the so-called myths -- there is no indication which individuals or groups were espousing these views -- are then all shot down.

There you have it. Of course it's a lot easier to shoot down non-existing myths (myths you never had in the first place) than deal with the real facts. But who cares about facts on criticism of harm reduction when the fabrication of non-existing myths can lead to such wonderful straw men?

Read the whole story

- Harm reduction and illicit drugs Australia
- Wikipedia: Harm Reduction
- Wikipedia: Criticism of harm reduction
- Wikipedia: Safe Injection Sites
- Wikipedia: Media Manipulation
- Victoria Times Colonist: Ottawa debunks safe-injection site myths
- Wikipedia: Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
- Wikipedia: Straw man Fallacy
- Wiktionary: Myth


janfromthebruce said...

Eric, I just spent the last week in Vancouver BC, and this is a wonderful program. Of course, the cons hate it, as harm reduction does not ascribe moralist contempt towards the person with addictions.
My daughter, a newly minted social worker, is heartsick about the cons pulling of funding for the program.
Walked on Hastings and my heart of sick of how so many lost and abandoned souls are there.
thanks for the article.

sassy said...

Good post, well explained.

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