- grade: D for content, B+ for site layout
The ABC sponsored freevibe.com site is yet another shockingly bad, fear mongering prohibition site. This one is directed at young teens and preteens (targetted age group is probably 10-13). The tactics used to dissuade their audience from using drugz is to exaggerate negatively, use verbal sleight of hand, ignore and deny the positive effects, belittle users, and use sarcasm to attempt to manipulate their young audience.
On the positive side, they have a piece titled "Media Hype" which is an attempt at suggesting people/kids should reflect on the relationship between content and form of message, who is saying what to whom in advertisements and movies. Media Literacy and intellectual deconstruction techniques are undertaught in schools and this piece thankfully avoids saying "question everyone but us".
Their "up to you" drug use scenarios are mildly amusing, but perhaps directed at children of 5-8. I doubt kids 10 or older would be able to find it interesting, except to see how dumb the authors are. And each of their points in their "What makes people start?" piece is undermined by their attempt to exaggerate.
All of this is remarkably familiar from my own experience as a 4th grader getting the "introduction to drugz" by the local sheriff at grade school. I remember being sure I would never try drugz. Why would I? People go crazy, commit suicide, jump out of windows, beat up their friends, and all they want to do is take more drugz. It was clearly Just Wrong To Take Drugz. This is the same pathetic message with the same inaccurate information now regurgitated onto a flashy website for kids. While the site is not all bad, the real information is buried in the heap of hyperbole, sarcasm, one-sided moralism, alarmist jargon, and anti-drug propaganda.
While we applaud the efforts of organizations in trying to reduce the harms associated with psychoactive drug use, Erowid is certain that bad information will, in the end, only harm our society and the children in it. No matter how many times you say it, LSD and mushrooms do not cause "convulsions, coma, heart and lung failure, and even death." Although their information is somewhat up to date (they even have references to the latest JH MDMA neurotox and memory studies), they obviously haven't read the IOM report and continue to call marijuana a 'gateway' drug. We will be glad when that decrepit and idiotic meme is long since dead and only used by Puritanical extremists.
("What do drugs feel like?")
"...Unfortunately, in almost every case these feelings are followed by even more powerful ones like depression,anxiety, nausea, guilt, embarrassment, loneliness and wanting more drugs. Oh, and sometimes, lots and lots of vomiting and zits. Not pretty."
"Are drugs always bad?
"Illegal drugs are always bad. There's no good use for sniffing glue or snorting heroin."
- StreetDrugs.org (formerly Publisher Group) : Drugs of Abuse
- This site is put together by people who are selling a CDROM full of nicely done images of illegal drugs. Their stated target audience is "teachers and DARE officers" and the general tone of their treatment is that of a non-hysterical strongly anti-drug social worker.
Much of their language is identical or similar to DEA and NIDA publications and there is little new in the way of information. They have a few factual errors which show some lack of familiarity with certain substances.
The tone and presentation of their information is reasonable, educated, and without a lot of Drug War rhetoric.
Their strongest suit is their images. This site has some nicely composed, sharp, images of a large number of substances. On most of their image pages, they have a link to "more images" which is actually a link to their sales page for their CDROM of drug images which sells for 49.99. They charge 150$ to grant permission to reprint an image.
One odd thing is that its hard to know who these people are or what to call them, the copyright says "Library Publications" and other places say "the Publisher Group". There is no "about" area I could find and there are few if any titles.
Their pages also include the DEA's "Against Legalization" piece, penalties for possession for some drugs, information on 'clandestine labs', federal drug strategy, some pieces on gangs, an interesting chart of homicide rates by profession, and some information on drug-testing clearance times by substance.
Their site has grown and become better organized over the last year or so and is now a good place to know about for getting biased but somewhat reasonable anti-Drugz info.