Drug show reveals why we need to welcome debate

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When does simply showing someone something mean crossing over no man’s land and entering the danger zone?

We’re so often told television glamorises what the mainstream moral majority might think of as risky behaviour, as if we’re incapable of making rational decisions for ourselves.

I reckon just highlighting an issue can’t in itself be harmful. Show me a programme on sunbed use, for example, and I’m unlikely to yearn for an Oompa Lumpa-style glow.

The same can be said for the recent documentary about testing the effects of the party drug ecstasy.

There are those who think just the act of showing a group of well-known faces taking ecstasy will encourage others to give the drug a go.

They’ve rejected the claims of the scientists behind Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial who say they were conducting a genuine experiment into how the substance can affect the brain.

A lot of the complaints appear to hinge on the fact that people shouldn’t take drugs on telly in case innocent minds – somehow previously unaware of ecstasy – suddenly wake up with an urge to neck a pill and pop on a Prodigy track.

Yet from what I saw, the whole drug-taking part looked thoroughly boring.

If I was in the market for a high I don’t think I’d be that enticed by seeing pictures of Keith Allen getting up from a hospital bed in a manner that could only be described as a tad woozy.

The novelist Lionel Shriver summed up her experience by proclaiming: ‘I’ve got more off my head from a bad batch of sushi’.

Does that mean we should now think it’s safe?

Of course not and no-one in the programme has claimed that the drug doesn’t come with risks. They just want us to question what we’re told.

Surely that’s a good thing? We don’t say ‘baa’ so there’s no need to treat us like sheep.

There are external influences that might encourage you to try ecstasy, but the power of our peers has a much bigger impact than what we watch on TV.

And an informed debate can never be a bad thing, so why shy away from it?