Paul Sheehan, moron of the day

For a really bizarrely bad column, check out Paul Sheehan in the Sydney Morning Herald with Tolerance a recipe for drug misery

It leads off with a huge picture of a cute family – fiancee, father, little boy.

And then immediately plunges into the dark side.

Stathi Katsidis lived faster than 99 per cent of Australians. He rode racehorses for a living. He took illegal drugs. He was reckless and self-indulgent. He didn’t make it past 31. At lunchtime on October 18 last year, Katsidis and his fiancee began drinking at Brisbane’s Hamilton Hotel.

As they lingered, Katsidis began taking drugs. By evening, with friends back at home, he had taken fantasy [GHB], and ecstasy, and cocaine, and crystal meth. He had also kept drinking. The binge lasted 12 hours before he passed out on his couch. Katsidis was found dead in the morning.
The coroner’s report, obtained by Brisbane’s Courier-Mail and released at the weekend, found he had nine times the lethal limit of fantasy in his system. His blood alcohol level was three times over the legal limit.

OK. Stop right there. I see where this is going.

But is he really going to use this as an example of a larger picture? It’s like advocating for laws against fatty foods because of the case of a 400 pound man who eats a 10 pound steak, three large pizzas, a couple pounds of bacon, two whole chickens and a chocolate cake in one sitting and dies of heart failure.

Yep, he’s using it.

A victimless crime? Katsidis left behind a young son, a distraught fiancee, and the more than 1000 people who attended his funeral. He didn’t have to steal to pay for his drugs but so many addicts do, creating real victims of real crimes. Tens of thousand of them.

Give me a break. This isn’t about drug tolerance causing victims. This is about a really, really stupid person dying. That’s all.

When I was in high school, two students died from huffing kerosene. They left distraught families (and I’m sure there were a lot of “victims” who attended their funerals as well), but it wasn’t tolerance of kerosene that caused their deaths. They were morons. Just like Stathi Katsidis and Paul Sheehan.

Some believe it would be better to legalise drugs and remove the criminal world that supplies them, using the money saved on enforcement to fund drug treatment programs. The libertarian side of me is comfortable with this. People should be allowed to take whatever drugs they like, so long as they harm only themselves.

It’s that last part, the myth of the victimless crime, that causes me to drop my libertarian bias on this subject. The death binge of Stathi Katsidis is a part of the mosaic of human folly that will lead me, despite a strong streak that favours less government intrusion and more personal freedom, to take a non-libertarian position tomorrow night in a debate entitled ”All drugs should be legalised”, the latest in the IQ2 debate series.

I don’t know Paul Sheehan, but I suspect he has no clue what the word “libertarian” means, let alone having any kind of streak of it at all. I suspect his kind of libertarianism is along the lines of “The government should allow free speech as long as they agree with what’s being said.”

I mean, really. Take a look at what he said.

People should be allowed to take whatever drugs they like, so long as they harm only themselves.


It’s that last part, the myth of the victimless crime, that causes me to drop my libertarian bias on this subject.

So he’s just refuted himself. Apparently his libertarianism is only applied to hermits who know nobody and to whose funeral no one would come.

By that same token, he should be fully prepared to make it illegal for me to eat chocolate, because that could lead to obesity and early death, and some “victim” might be unhappy if I died.

He spends some time on the analysis of public opinion and then gets to this one…

This is a highly emotional debate for many people. At a dinner party at the home of a judge recently, one of the guests, upon hearing that I was preparing a column critical of the Kings Cross heroin injection centre, said to me: ”So you don’t care if drug users die in the street?”

This is the sort of emotionalism, the assumption of higher moral ground, reflexively used to club people in this debate – that you don’t care about the welfare of vulnerable addicts.

Yes, you wouldn’t want to use emotionalism or the assumption of a higher moral ground, would you Paul? Have you already forgotten the beginning of the article you’re currently writing???

Stathi Katsidis dead leaving behind a young son, a distraught fiancee, and the more than 1000 people who attended his funeral…

  • Emotionalism? Check.
  • Assumption of higher moral ground? Check.

Let’s move on.

Drug legalisation advocates also love the word ”tolerance” because it masks a position of moral relativism, the default position of progressive politics. Moral relativism encapsulates several mantras which favour victimology: social disadvantage is the root of social problems; addiction is a disease not a crime; prohibition drives crime, not consumption; underground markets drive underground behaviour.

Once again, it’s Sheehan who played the victimology card earlier (remember, the the more than 1000 people who attended his funeral).

And besides, it’s true that prohibition drives crime and that underground markets drive underground behavior.

But here, we get a glimpse into Sheehan’s real internal freak show, and it’s about desiring a moral absolutism against drug use, backed up by the power of the state. And that’s as far from libertarianism as you can get.

Go ahead, Paul, and play “libertarian” dress-up whenever you want lower taxes, but don’t insult us by claiming to be one.

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22 Responses to Paul Sheehan, moron of the day

  1. darkcycle says:

    That one’s a real diaper load. I know. I have a two and a half year old.
    He’s using every tactic he accuses advocates of using. Using them first, then beating the readers to the accusation. Typical politics, be the first to level the accusation, that way when the charge comes back to you, it just looks like a childish finger pointing. Problem is, the guy lacks the subtlety to pull it off. It’s ham-handed. Seems like our politicians are better at that sort of stuff than the Aussies.

  2. Peter says:

    Evidently this moron knows more about addiction than the World Health Organisation and the American Medical Association, who have both declared addiction to be a “treatable disease…” Not, as Sheehan would have us believe, a crime.

  3. Billie Budd says:

    He took a well deserved beating from his readers Down Under…

  4. Peter says:

    Private Eye magazine used to have a satirical character called Lunchtime O’Booze- a “tired” old hack puzzled by new technology… kind of how I imagine Paul Sheehan. I wonder how much he drinks….

  5. Nine times the lethal limit of “fantasy”? Is that a typo, or just a self-description of Sheehan?

  6. Swooper420 says:

    Have never heard of this ‘fantasy’ stuff…or the term applied to GHB. I think this guy is just pulling things out from his ass and doesn’t deserve the attention he’s getting.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      He is from Australia. I’m sure they have many words and phrases in their vernacular that we’ve never heard on this side of the planet. Google confirms that fantasy is slang for GHB over there. I had no clue what the first Hawaiian I heard use the word was talking about when he mentioned pakalolo.

      “What Is Fantasy – GHB – Gamma Hydroxybutyrate ?

      The chemical name for GBH is Gamma – Hydroxybutyrate. It is in the classification of date rape drugs, used widely in night clubs and taverns, inserted into beverages to render a targeted victim 100% compliant to a rape, through heavy sedation.

      Street names for GHB include “fantasy”, “Grievous Bodily Harm”, “Liquid E”, or “Liquid X”.


  7. DdC says:

    Moron of the day? The day’s still young and they have a seemingly unlimited supply of the dumbshits. I’d give it a little time before declaring a winner.

  8. Duncan20903 says:

    I’m really starting to like you Pete. You just have such a way with words that gets straight to the heart of an issue.

    Nine times the lethal limit? LOL, Moron of the day indeed. If it were are crime, this guy would be guilty of aggravated stupidity, no doubt. He also doesn’t seem to notice that this happened despite the law.

    Hey, there’s that Humpty Dumpty School of Sophistry at work redefining the word victim to suit them so they can deny the reality of a consensual crime being victimless. “Never let the facts get in the way of disseminating an effective piece of hysterical rhetoric.”

    “Comments are now closed.” Boo fucking hoo. Cowards.

  9. Benjamin says:

    What a load of horseshit. I’m not allowed to do something if it would make someone else sad? The moron’s children are bereft of a father who destroyed himself… Therefore the government’s dehumanizing war against drug users is justified? This idiot needs to think for a few minutes before putting pen to paper.

  10. “fantasy [GHB], and ecstasy, and cocaine, and crystal meth. He had also kept drinking. The binge lasted 12 hours before he passed out on his couch. Katsidis was found dead in the morning”

    He passed out from taking these illegal stumulants?

    Or from the un specified amount of alcohol?

    Why then not ban alcoholic beverages?

    And why not legalize the now illegal stimulants, at least in their safer forms?

    Oh! We can’t have legal coca available- that will cut into coffee and cigarettes, as Harvey Wiley’s USDA AMA-APhA political monster feared.

  11. denmark says:

    After contemplating and mulling over journalism I started wondering if there was a code of conduct for them. Found plenty of hits on google, this ones from Wikipedia.
    Notice the word truthfulness in the last paragraph.

    Journalism ethics and standards comprise principles of ethics and of good practice as applicable to the specific challenges faced by journalists. Historically and currently, this subset of media ethics is widely known to journalists as their professional “code of ethics” or the “canons of journalism”. The basic codes and canons commonly appear in statements drafted by both professional journalism associations and individual print, broadcast, and online news organizations.
    Every news organization has only its credibility and reputation to rely on.

    While various existing codes have some differences, most share common elements including the principles of — truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability — as these apply to the acquisition of newsworthy information and its subsequent dissemination to the public.

  12. Buc says:

    Many people claim libertarianism when they are actually statists or neo-conservatives.

    The term conservative was high-jacked by what is now considered ‘social conservatism’ (statism) and I’m hoping they don’t take the term libertarian as their own as well.

    You can tell me the sun is green as many times as you want, but it does not make it true.

  13. Maria says:

    Sheehan is capitalizing on human misary and the broken shards of a life to push his moral hard line. Plain and simple.

    Extreme cases are only good for illustrating the extreme. We all know of them. I knew a good guy who killed himself by overdosing on GHB and alcohol. He wasn’t an addict but he had enjoyed both substances in the past. What he was for sure was extremely in the closet, with a fiance, ultra orthodox parents, a baby on the way, and a job he loathed. He gave up. End of story.

    Did this guy give up? We’ll never know. But Sheehan “knows” and he’s using this guys life and death to trumpet his own agenda. It’s vile.

  14. dt says:

    I do not understand how one could not understand the concept of “victimless crime.” I have seen it called “quaint” by “public health”-oriented authors. Of course, every imperfect action by definition has “victims.” BUT THERE IS A CLEAR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “VICE” AND “CRIME.” “Crime” has real victims; “vice” does not.

  15. vickyvampire says:

    Shit Happens its Sad,don’t punish the rest of us for a few who bit the dust from overindulgence it just happens no full proof safe anything.

  16. strayan says:

    lol, he rode racehorses for a living? What if this jube died in a racing accident leaving his poor family behind? Ban horses?

  17. strayan says:

    By the way, if you read the literature, you discover that GHB is safer than alcohol in many respects. If I had the choice, I would choose GHB over alcohol any day; mainly because of this:

    GHB has a half-life of only approximately half an hour…

    GHB’s metabolism involves essentially non-toxic metabolites, including γ-aminobutyric acid , one of the most widespread neurochemicals in the human body

    Sellman, J.D., Robinson, G.M. & Beasley, R. (2009). Should ethanol be scheduled as a drug of high risk to public health? Journal of Psychopharmacology, 23(1), 94-100.

  18. Kozmo says:

    So if the father overdoses and dies leaving behind the child and fiancee then they are “victims”. But if the state puts him in jail leaving the child and fiancee behind then thats just good for everybody.

    Wait…..what ?

    :head assploding:

  19. Carlyle Moulton says:

    Here is the second installment of Michael Duffey’s Sydney Morning Herald series.

  20. Carlyle Moulton says:

    Here is the final installment of Michael Duffy’s Sydney Morning Herald sequence on drug prohibition.

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