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Posts Tagged ‘peter hitchens’

Here are some things Peter Hitchens has talked about:

TSA-style security theatre.

The stupidity of Western military policy. In particular, our government’s more recent tendency for military intervention overseas.

Nebulous laws against extremism which stifle free speech.

The purpose and attitude of the police.

The fucking Tories, as well as the ludicrous state of contemporary UK party politics.

Trident.

He’s basically right about all of these things, as you might have guessed was my point. Certainly more so than many commentators who are still taken seriously by people with politics close to my own.

His concerns about new legislation enacted by the “thought police” may not precisely parallel mine, but the quashing of alternative ideas is a dangerous one, even if those ideas are icky and homophobic etc. And on our continued involvement in global warfare, he seems to be far more reliable than his late brother was.

Just don’t get him started on atheists or cannabis, and the guy actually has a lot to say.

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Just a quick reminder that, in the world that Peter Hitchens lives in:

– marriage is dead;

– weddings mean nothing;

– a decision to commit to a romantic relationship, and ask the government to formally recognise your family unit, must be absolutely and indefinitely binding for everyone involved, no matter how much about your own or your partner’s personality or behaviour or preferences have changed in the ensuing years and decades;

– and anything which loosens the law’s iron grip on you, once you’ve entered into a voluntary agreement with another human being, and allows you to reconsider the terms, is a totalitarian abomination.

Oh, and from a different section of that same article, all violent criminals are probably on drugs and the base rate fallacy doesn’t exist.

If I lived in a universe quite so miserable, my face might look like that too.

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If I tried venting about every part of Peter Hitchens’s output of the last couple of months which has bothered me, I wouldn’t get to bed until it was 4am and I couldn’t feel my fingers any more. “Addiction” doesn’t exist, apparently. No, I’m not explaining what he seems to mean by that. I’ll let you extrapolate from there. (The case of Mark Duggan also demonstrates why we should bring back hanging. Somehow. Oh god, I’m losing myself down a spiralling pit of inanity. Break away, break away.)

There’s one thing he said that I do want to touch on, though, if I can do so without getting carried away. In talking about the effects of illegal drugs, he uses the phrase “unearned chemical exaltation”.

Of specific interest is the word “unearned”.

Peter Hitchens has a great moral objection to the use of drugs. That itself isn’t so bizarre or insupportable, but what’s interesting is that the “unearned” nature of the high they provide seems to be a significant part of his complaint.

He’s not alone in this; it’s an attitude I’ve seen before. Part of what some people find unacceptable and morally abhorrent about this particular form of artificial manipulation of one’s brain state is that it’s unearned. You haven’t worked for your right to feel good. You just took some drugs.

Never mind any damaging side effects that drug use might have on yourself and society; the bottom line is, you don’t deserve any chemical alteration of your mood.

You think you can just shortcut your way to physical pleasure or mental stimulation, without undergoing the toil and pain associated with the traditional ways of achieving such states? That’s cheating.

And so on.

And then this is used to justify laws against such cheating. And thus a staid, parochial attitude becomes global tyranny.

If you believe the outcomes of a liberal approach to certain intoxicants are so negative that a centralised authority needs to step in and crack down on their usage, that’s an argument to be made. But don’t just sweepingly decide that nobody deserves to feel good until they’ve earned it by suffering enough first.

Classroom discussion questions

1. If a hypothetical drug provided the “chemical exaltation” of, say, cocaine, but without the addictive nature or risk of harmful overdose, is there any reasonable grounds on which it could be outlawed? Could its use even be considered immoral?

2. How little attention does someone have to be paying if they really think that caffeine does not “in any way alter consciousness or perception”?

3. Why is Peter Hitchens?

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Peter Hitchens thinks antidepressants make you kill people.

Or at least he wants to “urge another line of investigation” into the recent gun massacre in Cumbria, to see whether there exists a link.

Which is pretty deplorable. There’s a great deal of stigma around common mental health issues already. There were 31 million prescriptions written in 2006 for antidepressants, to upwards of 1.5 million people. That’s just in the UK.

And you can see why he’s worried, because from among the hundreds of thousands of sufferers being prescribed medication in this country, the number of them who have gone on dangerous rampages ending in a tragic loss of life is…

Um.

Well, there was…

Yeah.

Hitchens names seven notable cases in the US, where even more millions of people are taking prescription drugs, and apparently 1 in 4 adults “will have a major depressive episode sometime in their life”.

In the UK, though, he doesn’t have a single example. Derrick Bird, the recent Cumbria shooter, might have been on antidepressants. There’s been absolutely nothing to suggest it, and no concrete reason to speculate, but really we just don’t know. And isn’t it interesting how the authorities don’t seem to be in any particular hurry to investigate?

In any case, clearly the solution to the UK’s out-of-control problem – in which the rate at which depression sufferers become serial killers might be proved to be greater than 0% – is to stop worrying about gun control so much and re-instate the death penalty, and be more like the US.

Where every single one of Hitchens’s examples was from.

Of course, part of the problem is the way those original cases were reported. As Hitchens points out:

Look carefully at the reports of many of the big US shootings… and you will find that the shooter is described as having been ‘depressed’ and ‘on medication’.

Which is a shame, because it might give the impression to people who read these reports that these facts are in some way relevant.

The implication is that these people being on prescription medication should have alerted their dangerous nature to the authorities, before they had a chance to commit such terrible crimes.

It’s possible that all the notorious killers he mentions also often enjoyed donuts. Maybe if that had been mentioned in the reports, Hitchens would be seeing another pattern entirely and calling for police to storm Gregg’s and arrest everyone immediately.

Anton Vowl wrote about this quicker and more scathingly than I.

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