Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Why not just castrate drug addicts?

Speaking personally, I’d cut their goolies off. It’s the only language these people understand. I mean why should they be allowed to continue having children when they are a burden on the state? Haven’t they caused enough trouble as it is without inflicting their offspring on society, creating another generation of damaged sociopaths.

Yes, it’s time to stop Labour MSPs like Duncan McNeil from reproducing. They should have contraceptives introduced into their beer. Or their wives’ beer, or whatever they drink nowadays in Greenock and Inverclyde. It’s time to start playing hardball - or no balls at all. If oral contraception doesn’t work, castration has the great merit of being 100% effective. I rest my case.

Duncan McNeil’s plan for dosing the methadone of heroin addicts with contraceptives may have been loopy, but there was political method in the madness. Labour wants to convince voters that it is tough on smack in time for the next Holyrood elections. The squeals from social workers and liberal lawyers that compulsory contraception would be a cruel breach of human rights were just what they wanted.

After the toddler Derek Doran died last year after drinking the methadone prescribed for his mother, Jack McConnell gave the green light to his backbenchers to think the unthinkable. They've been only too willing to oblige.

Howevere, a number of practical and ethical problems are presented by Mr McNeil’s plan: what about Catholic drug parents? Would they be forced to consume contraceptives, which the Church insists is an offence against the law of God and a grave sin? And why should it only be women who are targeted? Surely the Labour sisterhood should demand equal treatment for male drug addicts. How about a dash of bromide in the methodone, or better still chemical castration, which is painlessly administered to some paedophiles in the more enlightened US jails. It would stop them impregnating eleven year old girls into the bargain.

And if we are to stop drug addicts breeding, why not alcoholics? Surely they too should be prevented from commiting random acts of procreation. You can’t rely on brewer’s droop. Then there is the criminal population in general, We don’t want all those foreign murderers and rapists released into the community by Charles Clarke to start families.

Asylum seekers could be given contraceptives in their tea. Then there are people with disabilities. You know, eugenics isn’t all bad - biomedical racial hygiene just got a little out of hand under the Nazis.

Of course, the Scottish Executive has distanced itself from Mr McNeil’s proposals. But it is looking seriously at other other ways of dealing with the children of drug addicts which are almost as alarming. The First Minister has made clear that he wants to see the children of drug parents taken into care, en masse if necessary. Presumably, this is so that they can be properly trained in the ways of hard drugs, for, of course, children in care are far more likely to end up using drugs than children who live with their natural parents.

The recent changes to the rules on adoption, allowing same sex couples to adopt on the same basis as heterosexuals, was partly inspired by the expected demand for care as the FM’s child snatch squads sweep the housing estates to liberate the offspring of crack-heads. But I’m not so sure that gay couples are all that keen to take on the responsibilities for eleven year old addicts.

So, the state will inevitably become the parent of last resort. There are around fifty thousand children who live in families where at least one adult is misusing drugs. That’s an awful lot of childrens homes he’ll be opening. And with the shortage of rehabilitation places for heroin addicts, we can only expect Scotland’s hard drug community to grow.

Perhaps, McConnell could enlist the help of the private sector. I’m sure that Premier Prisons, who run Kilmarnock jail so efficiently, could open up new age secure units for drug children at very reasonable cost. Private sponsers could be encouraged to fund these establishments, which could be called ‘homes of ambition’.

But why stop there? Surely the children of alcoholics should also be taken into preventive care, on the grounds that they are just as likely to be damaged and abused as the children of drug takers. There could be compulsory alcohol tests for parents. Anyone found drinking more than twenty five units a week would be expected to hand their children over to the nearest correctional facility

Now, of course, this is a serious problem, and we shouldn’t make light of it. But the Scottish Executive isn’t making a lot of sense right now, and Labour MSPs like Duncan McNeil are positively inviting derision. The FM seems to be untroubled with the criticism from childrens organisations and from the Child Commissioner for Scotland, Kathleen Marshall, that “yo-yoing” children in and out of care only makes this problem worse. Anyway, there aren't enough social workers to go round.

But last week, McConnell announced the “Hidden Harm - Next Steps” programme which includes a new fostering agency to look afer the new charges of the state. The FM said that “chaotic” drug abuse was incompatible with effective parenting. But what about orderly drug taking? Perhaps if the addled parents were on regular prescription doses of heroin, their children might be in less obvious danger.

Contrary to popular belief, people can survive perfectly well on heroin for many years and behave quite normally. A study last year by Glasgow Caledon University found that many were holding down normal jobs and relationships and passing exams. And I’m assured that the sample didn’t all come from the university itself.

It may be difficult to envisage the state taking over the drugs trade and providing a regular supply of narcotics to Scotland’s 40-60,000 addicts. On the other hand, it would keep them off the streets, and cut crime pretty dramatically. The police admit themselves that the war against drugs is being lost, and some officers in Strathclyde have even been suggesting that drugs should be legalised, even hard drugs like heroin.

There’s no guarantee that returning to the policies of the 1960s, when heroin was prescribed to addicts by doctors, will stop the drugs trade in its tracks. But one thing is certain: if we go on as we are today, the numbers of people on drugs will only increase as will the danger to children. And with MSPs like Duncan McNeil on the loose, there’s no knowing where it will end up.

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