alcohol. We have a problem with violence," the article by Tim Gregg in the Sydney Morning Herald suggested.
Mr Gregg cheerfully went on to "support" his assertion by telling people what it was like when he was in Germany. If you believe him there is no alcohol fuelled violence problem in that country.
Sorry Mr Gregg I don't believe you.
Australia does have an alcohol problem. It has a very serious alcohol problem.
I will have to say here that I do not drink alcohol at all. I am allergic to alcohol. It makes me feel violently itchy all over - believe me it is not a pleasant experience.
I also have to say that I see nothing wrong with other people enjoying alcohol. I know there are many people for whom "a glass of red" or "a cold one" (beer) is a pleasant way to pass an evening at the weekend.
I also know there are many people who drink much more than that one glass of an evening. I found the article offensive and irresponsible. Ask a traffic policeman what the main causes of accidents are and s/he will list things like inattention, speed, drugs - and alcohol.
So why would any responsible newspaper print an article like that? I could probably ask one of my nephews, who happens to be responsible for the digital advertising for a major news group, whether the article was accompanied or followed by a spike in alcohol advertising. I am as certain as I can be that the answer would be yes. I am also as certain as I can be that the industries fuelled by alcohol would be trying to put pressure on state governments to relax some alcohol related laws.
Media access makes it increasingly easier to do that sort of thing. More and more people have access to social media. It makes it easy to get your message out, not by direct advertising but by articles like Mr Gregg's. Those who commented on it almost without exception thought it was a "great" article. They agreed with him. They agreed with him although there were no statistics to back his claims. Even if there had been statistics they would need to be treated with caution. It bothers me.
I am also bothered by an increasing tendency to undermine our leaders and elected governments while giving time to people who engage in dangerous behaviour or try to influence others to engage in that sort of behaviour.
It's time to stop.