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Brian Harvey and the media uproar

In January 1997 a pop star called Brian Harvey, lead singer of E17, stirred the shit when he gave an interview saying that Ecstasy can make you a better person. Unfortunately, he also said that he'd taken 12 at a go without any problem and driven home on E. Brian looks like a sexless sweetie who appeals to teeny boppers and who is very high in the charts but of course despised by ravers.

There was the most amazing response. The Prime Minister even mentioned it in parliament. The MP who is proposing a new bill that will make club owners liable to lose their licenses if drugs are found also mentioned it in parliament, and asked a minister to have Brian arrested on the charge of incitement to break the law; really over the top!
As one of my readers wrote to me:

" Now Brian Harvey went on the record yesterday as saying what he sees as
the truth about ecstasy. I've never been able to stand Brian Harvey either
as an artist or as what I've seen of him as a person. I think he looks
ridiculous and his 'music' is shit. However, yesterday I thought he
actually made a bit of sense.

"He is the the first person I've ever heard reported as saying that ecstasy
can help to make you a better person - a sentiment that I whole-heartedly
agree with and know to be true for myself and several friends. But look
what happens! He gets kicked out of his band, their new single is
practically banned, suddenly every club in the country is in imminent
danger of being shut down, and the name of Leah Betts is once again
plastered across our headlines. Harvey has to be an absolute dickhead to
take 12 E's in a night (if it's true!) and even more so to say so, but all
credit to him for 'coming out'."

There followed a 5 page spread in the Daily Mirror (Britains biggest selling paper) all about the horrors of Ecstasy and with spreads ringed by oval-framed portraits of innocent young people who were victims of the killer drug. 17 radio stations announced an immediate ban of E17 records. I was invited to go on TV twice with the Betts which I refused, since I have found it impossible to have serious debate with a strong emotional element in fact that is now 7 times that I have refused to go on with the Betts. I also refused the Kilroy show as they said they would have bereaved parents.

I refused to go on Talk TV, but (after much persuasion from the producer) agreed to speak on the phone with the assurance that I could answer a single question for up to 3 minutes without interruption. In fact I was interrupted after 15 seconds and so I hung up the phone!

I did accept Newsnight (who edited me fairly) saying that Brian's remarks and hysteria were just what the government needed to push through its new bill.

The serious papers said very little. The Guardian had a funny piece headed "Pop star trips up over E", but the popular morning radio programme Today interviewed clubbers who all made positive comments like: "Yes, its true Ecstasy does make you a better person". index
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