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April 6, 2009 | by  | in Books |
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The Dangers of P – Shannon Gillies

Crystal Meth, the ‘pure’ form of methamphetamine which you smoke rather than snort, is nothing new. New Zealanders have been hitting it for decades, but in the early years of the new millennium, the media decided that by referring to crystal meth by a new slang term – P – they could present it as a new drug epidemic. This epidemic does have some basis in fact – after a crackdown by border control, imports of meth appear to have declined throughout the 1980s; locals began to brew the shit in the 90s, and police requested extra resources to fight this, but failed, resulting in a surge in supply as the millennium approached.

Shannon Gillies comic book The Dangers of P is a response to the extraordinary media hype surrounding this drug: “When someone commits a crime, be it cutting off someone’s hands with a sword or beating up their loved ones, if they were on P at the time it is presumed that is why the crime occurred.” Gillies notes that when the media focuses on the role of P in a crime, they present P use as an excuse for this behaviour: not only do they not bother commenting on “the social causes that led to the commitment of the crime”, they also refuse to examine “those who take P and do not commit crimes.”

To my mind, the strongest example of such poor journalism occurred after P-addict Steven Williams murdered his six-year-old stepdaughter Coral Burrows. Following his conviction, his mother was given extensive television airtime in which she stated again and again that her son was a good man who would never have done such a thing without P, and that therefore the drug was the real murderer. Given that I’ve met a number of P users, most of whom are slightly fucked, but none of whom are at any risk of murdering a child, this is quite patently bullshit.

Gillies response’ to such hype is several pages of images of the letter P committing crimes, such as raping a cow, whaling, abducting a child, and “hunting animals to the point of extinction.” Both the sentiment and the drawings are simplistic, but such simplicity helps Gillies get his point across – and it’s a point that needed to be made.

Copies of The Dangers of P are available at Graphic on Cuba for $5.

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About the Author ()

Tristan Egarr edited in 2008. He threw a chair once.

Comments (1)

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  1. Robyn says:

    Take a look at ‘Beyond the Darklands’ programme on Steven Williams and see the real reasons why he murdered, ‘P’ was the catalyst. However the real reason was the prostitute druggie woman who gave birth to him. Steven’s half-sister also murdered her boyfriend, while doing ‘P’, stabbing him in the thigh. Model family.

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