HARRY'S HOUNDERS AND OTHER VILLAGE IDIOTS
Horror of horrors, Prince Harry, the second son of Prince Charles, has been getting plastered and enjoying the odd spliff. It's not quite clear how the unremarkable news reached the press. It would appear, though, that when Prince Charles got word of the wild parties, the drinking and, yes, the inhaling—all hell broke loose in the media. Daddy, it would seem, may have been less than discreet. On the other hand, it could be that Prince Charles' pot plants were wired.
More plausibly, the media picked up the yarn when the boy was spotted visiting a drug rehabilitation clinic in south London. A tad young to be adopting the many politically correct causes his late mother embraced, Harry was not officiating as the new Patron Saint of the Tokers. He had apparently been sent by Prince Charles to study up close "what drugs can do to the lives of young people."
Considering that drug rehab centers are often full of self-styled addicts (the kind of manipulative young people with a knack for playing the system), this may not have been the best real-life lesson for Prince Charles to foist on his youngest son. The rehab is often the end-of-the road and the last resort for families tethered by troubled kids. Having reached a breaking point, the family typically is only too eager to outsource a disruptive youngster to a state-sponsored facility. What family would risk trying to get tough with a truant teen, if it means being accused of child abuse by some Sapphic Sister from Social Services?
If not in bad form, Charles' sending our poor "potter" to a rehab center qualifies, at the very least, as melodramatic. Young Harry was soon swept up in the hysteria, with everybody—from the pub owner in Wiltshire where the prince partied, to the headmaster of the exclusive Eton College, to a Home Office spokeswoman, and to the many addiction industry gargoyles—offering up a version of the slippery slope Harry could be careening down. Even the Wiltshire police joined the rash of recrimination, indicating it would be willing to consider action against Harry if information were to materialize.
Amidst all the overreaction, it emerged (run for cover) that Prince Charles had not always occupied himself by chatting to pot plants. While on a school sailing trip, a 14-year-old Charles led a less than teetotaler expedition of boys to a local bar to sample the cherry brandy. As heartless as his mother is alleged to have been, the queen did not pack him off on a cirrhosis-of-the-liver crash course. As a member of a more sober generation, the queen may have known what the addiction industry doesn't reveal, and that is that despite casual or occasional use of drugs, most teenagers don't descend into the addiction abyss.
On the issue of drugs, adherents of the left and right simply can't shake a shared high. On any day, Cool Britannia rivals the U.S. for prohibition piety. Blair's 1998 Crime and Disorder Act went so far as to enshrine in law coercive drug testing and compulsory treatment protocols. Tony Blair thinks of "drug policy"—the euphemism for the state's interference with what people ingest or inhale—as a road to "social rejuvenation." "The fight against drugs, wrote Blair," should be part of a wider range of policies to renew our communities."
The "Hildebeest" is another believer, here at home, in the power of legislation to renew communities. In fact, the philosophy popularized by Hillary Clinton is one that advocates undermining and forcibly stripping families and communities of their powers to keep their members in check, and replacing them with legislation that often transfers responsibility for children to the State.
When last did the actions of a legislator serve to renew a genuine community? Public housing slums? How about rent control? In many great cities, rent control has meant that there are more boarded up buildings than there are homeless, because landlords are not permitted to recover the costs of upkeep. Designed to preserve a way of life, enforced inter-provincial wealth equalization programs in Canada have resulted in chronically dependent and depressed regions. And we know how, with welfare policies, the state has helped destroy black families: young black women choose to marry the state rather than wed the fathers of their children. Last year, the prohibition on drug possession "recharged" the lives of roughly 1.5 million Americans, arrested for marijuana possession.
Clearly, It Takes A Village Idiot to think of government policy as a means to a Renaissance.
Harry's teen pranks, of course, are no more the business of sticky-pawed politicians than they are the business of drug policy advocates. Harry's indiscretion is to have publicly behaved in a manner unbefitting his station. (Then again, his late mother modeled a self-indulgent disregard for royal etiquette and decorum.) His father's indiscretion is to have followed through with a public pop-therapy protocol instead of removing the keys to Highgrove country estate, and enforcing a curfew and some serious pecuniary pain on the boy.
©2002 ILANA MERCER