Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fisking Graham Bell

I had to have a good laugh at Old Police's Graham Bell on NatRad's Panel yesterday. He's so used to juking stats in his old cop job, or juking ratings to prop up his Police 10-7 cop show porn, he doesn't know when to stop.

The excellent David Slack had just related his thoughts on Elizabeth Warren, who nicely encapsulated the "No-one is an Island" thought convincingly:
I hear all this, you know, "Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever."--No!
There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.
You built a factory out there--good for you! But I want to be clear.
You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.
You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.
You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.
You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.
Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea--God bless. Keep a big hunk of it.
But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
After such wisdom, Graham Bell was a refreshing sorbet of deceitful ignorance. He was incensed that Don Brash had dare give such credence to those stoners seeking drug reform:
"Speaking of legal and political frameworks, Don Brash and his comments about cannabis, his musings on cannabis... Now, the real effect of these is that we've got the all the [sic] usual suspects like Fowlie and Dakta Green and all these other half-wits coming out of the woodwork to screech about cannabis law reform. Green's ridiculous bus (pictured below outside Parliament) was running up and down Queen Street with a loudhailer and a horn, on the back of Dr Brash's comments. "

The only reason why anyone heard anything about Dakta Green this week was because the police have dragged him out of Mt Eden Correctional Facility to the Auckland High Court to try and get him locked up a lot longer. No Right Turn has the gory on that story. Brash's comments were fortunate timing, nothing more.

Bell splutters on with inarticulate outrage. He hunches and theorises what might have given Brash the wherewithal to spout such stuff. Probably "victim" to some "cannabis lobby people". Not police mouth and wormtongue Greg O'Connor.

But then Bell has a punch at statistics, and this is where the greasy brotherhood of cops shows its stain. Because as all cops know, facts are flexible. They can be edited and re-arranged to prove criminal intent the way any reality TV editor can make even the most mundane act loaded with portent. Planting evidence? No worries. Lying under oath? For Queen and Country, maaaate.
"They quote these statistics that have no empirical worth. Like, an estimated 400,000 people are using cannabis each year. Now there are no actual statistics to back up that claim. The Health Department (hasn't been called that for a long time, old man) did a- a study where they interviewed a whole lot of people and one in seven of those surveyed reported having used or tried cannabis at some stage, but doesn't say that there are people out there smoking cannabis every week and the numbers are 400,000, that's a ridiculous assertion."
 The 400,000 figure is based on that fairly comprehensive survey quoted in the Law Commission's Controlling and Regulating Drugs report:

The footnote explains how they got 385,000:

1,000 people is considered the minimum for statistical significance. 6,500 people is very statistically significant. That's that's not just a whole lot of people, that's a shitload.

Graham Bell must have big problems with the Department of Statistics, because interviewing random samples and extrapolating from there is pretty much what they do. Of course, the police do not treat statistics with the same respect. The Masterton Police Child Abuse Cover Up is the most obvious example of this juking of the stats.

Stats are a best guess. No-one really knows how many people used cannabis last year, let alone last week. It's the same reason as nobody really knows how many LGBT New Zealanders there are. Estimates vary between five and ten percent of the population. It's same reason as we don't know how many drunk cops beat their partners in the last year, because all the evidence we have to go off are police convictions.

So, 385,000 in 2006 is the best guess available. Factor in population growth  to 2011, and there's an estimated 400,000 people who tried cannabis in the last year.

Most of New Zealand supports a change in the cannabis laws. Whatever we may think of our cannabis toting friends and relatives, very few believe we should lock them up. The murder of Liam Ashley put the sternest parents off that idea. The drug treatment groups are behind reform. The experts are behind reform (although they won't go on the record because their careers will be ruined e.g. Don Brash). Every poll that the MSM ask comes back with majority support for reform.

It is a good sign to hear Graham Bell being so defensive on cannabis law reform. It's a sign that the bullies might not get to pick on the hippy kids forever.