Sunday, February 15, 2009

Stupid Drug Reporting Ensnares The New York Times

So I pick up the NYT this morning and on page 5 there's an article with the headline "Ecstasy Ensnares a New Class of Teenage Users in Brazil"1. Yeah... sure... whatever...

Didn't anyone tell Alexei Barrionuevo that if you've going to blame a drug for ruining peoples' lives its de rigeur to include at least on apocryphal story about a photogenic child becoming destitute as the result of the use of said drug use? Because if you read the article you find out that the only thing special about Ecstasy is that its used by upper-class club kids. And why, pray tell, is that notable? Well... "

“Consumers and Ecstasy dealers come from a higher socio-economic background,” said Cristiano Maronna, a criminal lawyer in São Paulo. “From the police’s perspective, apprehending these individuals becomes more interesting because it will open the door to possibilities of police corruption.”
So, really, the problem isn't Ecstasy at all. The problem is that Brazil has a corrupt police force and capricious drug laws. People who are otherwise minding their own business and not causing any trouble get sucked up into a drug enforcement system which is ripe for abuse.

Might I suggest then to Mr. Barrionuevo and the editorial board of the NYT that they change the headline to something more fitting? Perhaps "Corrupt Cops and Bad Drug Laws Make Life Miserable For People"?

1 Apparently changed to "Ecstasy Ensnares Upper-Class Teenagers in Brazil" for the online version.


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