Noel Gallagher and his one-man "Just Say Yes" to drugs campaign keeps rolling.
The singer raised the ire of anti-drug crusaders with some comments aired on
England's Radio 5 Live Wed. night (Jan. 29) in which he sprung to the defense
of East 17 singer Brian Harvey, who was booted out of the fluffy English pop
band two weeks ago after announcing in a radio interview that the drug Ecstasy
was "safe" and suggesting that it was relatively harmless.
In the Radio 5
interview, Gallagher suggested that drug use is so widespread that heroin and
cocaine addiction spreads as far as the members of Britain's Parliament. His
rant concluded with the soundbite, "Drugs are like getting up and having a cup
of tea in the morning."
Needless to say, the reaction to Gallagher's
remarks--in a statement released yesterday (Thurs., Jan. 30) he added that "if
saying a few seemingly outrageous things has helped instigate an open and
honest debate about drug abuse, then I'm pleased"-- were swift and harsh. Last
night's edition of London's Evening Standard contained an article in
which the Oasis member was taken to task by Paul Betts, the father of Ecstasy
use casualty and Oasis fan, Leah Betts, who runs an organization called Action
for Drugs Awareness.
"To say that he is helping to start an open debate is
a load of crap," said Betts. "I suspect he has come out with his latest
statement to defuse criticism and stop radio stations banning his records.
There are no ifs and buts about this. People in his position, who are looked
upon as gods by young people, can't go around making these sort of remarks.
People like Noel Gallagher have a moral duty to think before they open their
mouths because once these statements have been made the damage has been done."
British reports suggest that almost one in 10 British
teenagers have experimented with Ecstasy, with some estimates of weekly users
as high as 500,000.
Following the intense reaction to his Radio 5 comments,
Gallagher released a statement through his record company, Creation, yesterday
(Thurs., Jan. 30), in which he clarified that he did not condone drug-taking,
but that, "I slam as hypocrites those politicians who simply condemn drug abuse
as a criminal activity and think they're doing something positive."
Ironically, although Noel Gallagher has made no secret of his own
drug-taking, it was younger brother Liam who was given a police "caution"
earlier this month and spared a jail sentence on cocaine possession charges.
Gallagher said in the statement that "it's important to realize that
taking drugs can be damaging to lifestyle and dangerous to health. I urge all
youngsters to educate themselves about the harmful side of drug-taking... I've
said it before--the best policy is don't start in the first
Gallagher's remarks toward Members of Parliament (MP) might get him
in a bit more trouble than he expected. Junior Home Office Minister Tom
Sackville was quoted in the Evening Standard article as saying: "People
like Gallagher simply don't know the damage they are doing. For someone in his
position to condone drug abuse is really stupid. Spoilt brats like him can take
drugs and get away with it."
Libel laws in England are much more stringent
than in the U.S., especially in regards to public figures like MP's, and its
been reported that some of them are threatening legal action against Gallagher.
Sackville's comments were followed by a statement from fellow Conservative Tim
Rathbone, who suggested authorities should "now investigate the bringing of