Late last week tabloid columnist Andrew Bolt berated the 47 year old Greens Deputy Leader Scott Ludlum, who 'broke the law' when he used recreational drugs while he was in his 20s.
The details of Ludlum's past were gleaned from an interview with Ludlum in the latest issue of the men's magazine GQ.
Bolt was accusing Ludlum of being hypocritical in taking a hard line against tax evaders who break the law while being unrepentant about having broken laws against recreational drug use.
My view is that Ludlum's personal testimony that recreational drug use 'didn't do a lot' for him is more powerful than any attempt to prosecute drug users.
He talks about the dysfunctionality of his life when he was in his 20s and he experimented with drugs. I could talk about the dysfunctionality of my life when I was in my 20s and I experimented with religion.
They're the things that you fall into. They might give you a certain dubious or perhaps real quality of life, or they might cause you harm. I'd suggest they do both. Ludlum doesn't seem to regret that he tried drugs and I don't regret that I tried religion.
I don't know whether he's completely sworn off all mind altering substances, but I haven't given religion away. In fact Pope Francis' 'Who am I to judge?' attitude informs and affirms my approach to behaviours of other people I find hard to accept.
But back in my 20s I was 'driven', and I suspect he was as well. That's what happens before you eventually settle down from the excesses of your 20s. What we do while we're young sets us up - for better or worse - for our middle and later years, and makes us the people we become. Hopefully we like the people we have become. I do.
It doesn't seem fair that Ludlum's experimentation was regarded as a crime, while mine was at the time associated with a position of honour in the community. That's why I believe in harm minimisation and the prosecution of drug dealers but not than the users they exploit.
It wasn't always that way. I remember struggling with radio talkback programs on Triple J that treated recreational drug use as normal. I was still at a stage when I would 'judge' drug users, as I think they would have judged me for my choice of a religious way of life.
I came to appreciate the value of harm minimisation strategies, whether it was the advice of experts on the radio or the medically supervised drug injecting centre that the Uniting Church established at Kings Cross in 2001.
Now I like to believe that nothing should be off limits but everything should be subject to a harm minimisation strategy. But that kind of thinking belongs to an ideal world, and in reality certain actions like tax evasion and drug dealing need to be proscribed by laws that ultimately judge those who carry them out.