Thursday, 21 July 2016

A response to Peter Hitchens comments

A couple of days ago, I posted a blog giving my opinion as to why Peter Hitchens, a  right wing ideolog who writes articles for The Mail on Sunday was talking nonsense in his column. It seems that Pete is a bit thin skinned and took exception. At the time of writing, I was sitting by a pool in Khao Lak in Thailand, so had to write my blog on my mobile phone, which is always a challenge. I also did not want to waste too much of my time on Pete, who has a long history of writing complete  nonsense in the Mail. I wouldn't have the paper in the house, but somehow, in an error of judgement managed to follow him on Twitter and given that some of what he was saying is rather dangerous, felt some sort of response was a responsible way to proceed. Hitchens seems to have a small army of twitter followers who rather sadly hang on his every word, which has made my twitter timeline quite interesting. 

Anyway, having just got back from 20 hours travelling, and not wishing to go to sleep before 5 a side football tonight, what better way to sharpen up the mind than to post a response to him Anyway he did a Fisk style take down of about half of my blog (ignoring the bits he had no answer for). Most of the bits he did come back on is, rather typically for right wing troll types, simply highly pedantic arguments over semantics. Anyway, here is my response to his comments in red italics.

------ Here is the whole thing -----

'How Not To Argue' the latest in an occasional series

Here is a comment by a person on Twitter , who blogs here http://barneteye.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/drugs-mass-murder-and-simplistic.html, which illustrates perfectly the impossibility of public debate with so many people. I analyse it below. My comments are marked ***:
Wednesday, 20 July 2016
'Drugs, mass murder and simplistic solutions
Peter Hitchens is a right wing ideologue,
***This is just ad hominem abuse levelled against me on the writer’s (possibly justified)  assumption that most of his his readers will automatically assume that ‘right-wing ideologue’ means ‘wicked, stupid person’ ***
who has recently
**** I always thought Peter Hitchens promoted himself as a right wing ideolog. If he can give me a better description, I am happy to refer to him as that in future. I used to follow Hitchens column in the Daily Express for a while, as an insight into the right wing mindset. I do not consider the term "right wing" to be abusive, and if you always take a view based on a particular ideological viewpoint, I consider you to be an ideolog. It may amaze Hitchens to realise most of the readers of this blog don't read the Mail and probably don't have a clue who he is. Therefore I thought it would help them understand his viewpoint. Didn't realise Hitchens was quite so thin skinned. He is a columnist, not a scientist, therefore I feel it is a fair description.

as it happens this concern has not only been recent. It is consistent, long-standing and wide-ranging. I have been drawing attention to the correlation between various types of mind-altering drugs and all sorts of violent tragedies, from the Tucson massacre committed by Jared Loughhner and the GermanWings deliberate crash to the unhinged killing of a Church organist in Sheffield, the Anders Breivik episode and the Lee Rigby murder, for some years. My archived, indexed blog, or a Google search, will reveal this body of material stretching back some years ***

 been banging a drum claiming that the current 'plague of mass murders' can be attributed to the overuse of prescription and non prescription drugs.
***No. Actually, I have not been saying this at all.  I challenge him to find a quotation from the article here.. http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2016/07/is-the-latest-mass-murder-really-incomprehensible-.html
...which justifies this assertion.
I am rather mystified by Hitchens comment here. The whole article is spent trying to show that there is enough of a link between Drugs and Mass Murderers to warrent some sort of government action. This is an example or the way Hitchens pedantically uses semantics to try and get himself off the hook. Unlike Hitchens, I trust readers to make their own minds up. Read his blog and if they don't think he's saying that theres a link between drugs and mass murderers, then you can mark me down as a man you think talks nonsense.
 
 I have been saying (and I here quote from the article concerned, which contains a disclaimer typical of those in several articles I have published on the subject):
‘But the correlation revealed in this special subset of crimes is so strong that an inquiry into this correlation is long overdue. Once again, please do not accuse me of saying things I do not say, so as to avoid what I *do* say. 

Again this is typical Hitchens, pedantically splitting hairs over semantics. He says something, then puts a disclaimer in so he "can't be accused of saying what he just said????

The subject is too important for such silliness. The longer we neglect this problem, the more lives will be needlessly lost. I am not trying to excuse Islamic terrorists. I do not say all drugtakers are terrorists. I do not say all terrorists are drugtakers. Got that now? Good.’

I actually agree with Hitchens that the issue of understanding why mass killings occur is too important for silliness. Sadly, I found his article to be very silly and unhelpful. Why? Because it focussess on a very small part of a large picture. That is why I bothered to response

Something similar may be found in this article:
http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2016/06/he-wasnt-no-terrorist-bruv-reflections-on-the-leytonstone-knife-outrage.html, in which I said : ‘Once again, let me explain that I am not saying that all terrorists use mind-altering drugs (though I think many do). Nor am I suggesting that all users of mind-altering drugs are terrorists. So don’t write to me as if I had said either of these things which I have not merely not said but specifically stated that I have not said.

I am saying that in this subset of violent crime, in which the media take an unusually detailed interest, we find that the culprits are often mentally ill and often users of mind-altering drugs. This suggests that it would be wise to investigate all culprits of violent crime to discover how strong this correlation is.’ ***

I'm all for investigating the causes of violent crime, but disagree with Hitchens that this should narrowly focus purely on the role of drugs. In my opinion, other social factors are at least as important. I also happen to believe that oif drugs were the sole focus, any study/investigation would be likely to be a waste of money. If  a wide ranging study vindicated Hitchens position (whatever it is, because from his comments I'm not even sure he's sure), then that is great. That's how science works. 
 
 He's picked up on the fact that cannabis use is endemic in ISIS killers and a goodly proportion of pampered middle class kids who go nuts and shoot up the local school/mall/football game are on some form of anti depressant. Hitchens has to fill space in his rather dull column, in a paper owned by a family who supported Hitler, and makes its money feeding the insecurities and paranoia of Middle England. It should therefore come as no surprise to anyone that Hitchens does not begin to tell the whole story.
***Again the above is ad hominem abuse, or wholly irrelevant. My column may be dull. THta is a matter of opinion.  My employer's grandfather had some seriously wrong opinions 80 years ago. That is a matter of record. But these do not influence the question which is 'Am I right?'
Well I'm glad that Hitchens categorically states that his employers have an odious past. Hitchens claims the important question is "Am I right?" This is very narcissitic. Surey the question is  "Are drugs the main cause of mass killings or are there other equally/more important social factors". If my position is vindicated by studies that show there are social issues that can be addressed, the important thing will not be that "I was right". That will be completely irrelevant. I do believe it is important for my blog readers to understand the audience that Hitchens is addresssing and why. It is not all about you Peter. We are simply debating ideas and strategies for addressing mass murder. We are both part of a far wider debate. If Peter Hitchens feels my description of the Mail on Sunday audience is unfair, he should say so, not simply label it "ad hominem abuse" which is a term right wing Trolls tend to use on Twitter when they can't think of a decent response. 
 ****
Let me start by explaining my approach to fixing problems (and this is clearly a problem which needs fixing). I am an engineer by trade and I come from a family of engineers. Both of my brothers are engineers. My father was a pilot in the RAF who spent the last 2 years of his commission acting as an air accident investigation officer. You may wonder what this has to do with understanding mass killers. Well quite a lot. as engineers, my father taught us, almost as soon as we could walk, to be analytic.
***PH remarks, well, good for him, but, as we see above, he didn’t seem to have prevented all his sons from indulging the sort of unscientific prejudices which would, if allowed among engineers, make their conclusions highly suspect. E.g., what if the investigator has a personal prejudice against the pilot involved? Or what if he, seeking the easy approval of colleagues or superiors, or powerful contractors, sees the advantages to himself of blaming ‘pilot error’ and so misses the actual reason for the crash? I am sure my attacker’s father never did these things. But my attacker seems highly prone to such errors. Perhaps we should be glad that he has not followed his father's trade
Well it seems that when it comes to Ad Hominem abuse, Pete can dish it out when he feels like it. I suspect that his comments show a lack of knowledge of air accident investigations. To be fair, I am sure the things he listed has happened, given the huge commercial interests. My brother would never fly a DC10 as he felt that the plane was not reliable and the crash investigations too leniant. He had it written into his contract when working for BAe and Airbus I believe, that he wouldn't fly on certain planes for that reasson.

***
***

He said that he'd never investigated a crash where there was a single cause.
***Perhaps not, though I think he would have to admit that there were crashes where there was a *major significant cause*, and other subsidiary ones. As for single causes, that does not mean that there have been none.  The problem of metal fatigue caused a series of disastrous crashes by De Havilland Comets in the early 1950s, for instance. Not merely was this the single cause. It took far too long to find because the minds of engineers and investigators were closed to the possibility, and they did not look for it . The first crash, for instance, was wrongly blamed on bad weather. Nevil Shute’s gripping novel ‘No Highway’ is a fine fictionalisation of such a problem, and its hero, an eccentric and unprepossessing engineer with a bee in his bonnet, is derided by colleagues and at one point almost dismissed before finally being proved right, and saving many lives.
Pete's comment that there was a Major Significant cause is sort of true. The case of the Comet and metal fatigue is a good one to use, however I read a book on it many years ago (one of my fathers collection) and the conclusions where that there were several significant major causes. These included bad design (specifically the shape of the windows made the frame very prone to stress), lack of proper testing of materials and an inspection and service regime that was too lax. That is why we often hear of aircraft being grounded when cracks etc are found. As a result of the lessons learned from the Comet, inspections of commercial aircraft are far more intensive. This has prevented numerous crashes. The  Comet was brought into service as quickly as possible. Modern aircraft have far more vigorous commissioning programs. It is like the shuttle crash, people tend only to listen to the Engineers when the cause has been established.
But to be fair to Pete, sometimes you only learn these lessons after a catastrophy. I may and try and get hold of the book again, as it was fascinating and well worth a reread. I will also get a copy of Neville Shutes book as it sounds interesting and I even take book tips from Right wing ideologues.
***
 In every case, there was a whole sequence of systemic failures that lead to the crash. Addressing these systemic failures, was his job. The results of his investigations, and every other investigation of every other plane crash before and since, has made air travel an extremely safe way to fly. Across the globe, authorities share data and info to ensure that every crash is investigated and the lessons learned used to make the industry safer.
In the UK, following the Dunblane massacre, gun control was massively tightened. This was an example of a lesson learned.
***Actually, it wasn’t. The Cullen report, which I have read (and which i suspect my scientific attacker hasn't)  and which I analyse in the chapter ‘Out of the Barrel of a Gun’ in my book ‘A Brief History of Crime’, revealed that appalling failures by individual police officers allowed Thomas Hamilton to retain a firearms certificate when it was clear that he was an untrustworthy and suspect person, and the certificate (and his guns) should have been taken away from him long before he committed his terrible crime. It specifically made no recommendation for a handgun ban, and the effect of the ban on the use of handguns in crime has been , so far as I know, non-existent – for the simple reason the guns used in crime are almost invariable illegally obtained.
Yep, I read the Cullen report. My eldest brother is a keen member of the shooting fraternity and I read it so I could have an informed discussion with him.  Quite a long time ago though. Glad Pete agrees that people like Hamilton who are patently unsuitable to own guns should be denied access. That he is not singing from the NRA songsheet on this is clearly a postive step for Pete. It is clear that he does support a form of gun control
***

. It hasn’t stopped mass killers, but it has prevented a similar atrocity in the UK.
****Has it? It didn’t stop  Derrick Bird (who like Hamilton was allowed a firearms certificate,  and who used a lawfully-held rifle and a lawfully-held shotgun)  murdering 12 people in Cumbria 14 years later. Nor did it stop Raoul Moat’s rampage in Northumbria (Moat, like Anders Breivik and the Orlando killer, Mateen,  was on steroids)  the same year.
The circumstances of Birds murders were different to Thomas Hamilton. I do not advocate a total ban on firearms, therefore there is always the risk of someone flipping out. I don't believe that society will ever 100% eliminate crime/bad people or murderers, unless we have no civil liberties at all, which I certainly wouldn't support
 ***
Does Hitchens have a point about the use of drugs being a factor? It is more than possible that in some cases it is, but it cannot be looked at in isolation. If every maniac shooter in the world (a miniscule proportion of the total number of people using them) were on anti depressants, would it prove a link? It would be worth investigating, but no it wouldn't. It would simply prove that people with mental health issues are more likely to have behavioural issues.
***This is an extraordinarily categorical statement on a subject about which it is impossible to be categorical. Unless and until the term ‘mentally ill’ acquires an objective testable definition, it merely shifts the question another paragraph down the page. The physical ingestion of mind-altering drugs, on the other hand, is an objective testable, provable fact, though alas not always discoverable given the authorities’ curerwent un8intwerest (sic) in the question.
Here we are, back on the pedantry and semantic hair splitting. There are plenty of terms we use that do not have an "objective and testable definition" but society as a whole accepts (although not some right wing ideologs). As a dyslexic, I am only too aware of what it is like to be burdened with something which is unquantifiable. I know Pete doesn't believe in dyslexia either, therefore I am quite happy to agree to differ on this. The drummer in my band has been on anti psychotic medication for 12 years. They have enabled him to work, look after his family and generally function as a human being. He has explained to me at length, many times, just how difficult these meds are to balance and that it took him four attempts to find a psychaitric specialist who understood his condition and managed to help him achieve balance. These conversations are one of the prime motivators for me writing my original blog, as I believe that if Pete's blatherings are used as an excuse for people with mental health issues to stop taking drugs the risks to society are immense. I know several other people who have similar issues but are not prepared to be publicly quoted.

***
 What may be worth investigating is whether doctors are prescribing suitable treatments, because clearly if someone is under medical care and they start killing people, something has gone wrong. But  as I said above, that is just on piece of a very large jigsaw.
In the USA, lack of gun control is clearly the major factor.
***It clearly isn’t. US gun control (which has been relaxed since the 18th century)  is in fact rather tighter than it was 50 years ago. But the number of these incidents, which began to take place in the 1960s, has increased despite these tightening restrictions. If it were the major factor, rather than a subsidiary factor (which it obviously is)  this simply could not be so. His father must surely have explained to him why this is so.
I am sure even Pete will admit that high powered, high velocity, semi automatic weapons are available in the USA today in a way they most certainly were not inthe 18th century. The other factors I deal with below. Pete ignores them completely. 
 ***
  If disturbed people, on medication and sometimes with criminal records and on FBI watch lists have access to whatever weapons they fancy, it is clear that you have a recipe for disaster.

***The fallacy here is that by making it illegal for people to own guns, you prevent them from obtaining them illegally. Most gun crime is committed  with illegally held guns. There is a problem, of enforcement of gun bans in free societies. China, a rigid police state, successfully enforces such a ban, but suffers frequent knife massacres. Switzerland, which more or less requires its citizens to hold guns, suffers very few gun crimes. Thinking about this subject, which few people do, is complicated and difficult
Again, Pete ignores the social factors that differentiat the Swiss from the USA. I am not an expert on Switzerland, but I suspect the social factors detailed below account for this. Maybe the differences in paid holidays in Switzerland & USA mean parents have more time to spend with Children, therefore pass on the etiquette of responsible gun ownership. That is purely a guess (like much of Pete's writings.
***

***PH notes: the material below is not central to the point, but I have left it in anyway. Some of it verges on the sensible.
So Pete thinks that all the stuff below "verges on the sensible". That probably means he agrees with most of ot, but can't bring himself to say it. Back in the late 1980's, when I first came across Pete, he was the Express correspondent for Moscow. Most of what he wrote was interesting and informative. I have no problems at all giving credit where credit due. Maybe the Mail should send Pete to be the correspondent for North Korea. Given that he precipitated the fall of Communism in USSR, it would seem like a win/win. He'd get back to writing interesting and informative stuff and the people of North Korea would have the intolerable yoke of North Korean Communism thrown off them. Mind you, knowing Pete, he'll say that he's a big fan of the latest little Kim, just to annoy me. 
***
Add to that the incessant stream of violent films, computer games, video clips on social media and you have a perfect storm for brainwashing the vulnerable.
But it doesn't stop there. We live in a society where family life is under constant attack. I don't mean in the way that Mr Hitchens and other right wing polemicists mean. They talk about the sanctity of marriage as the cornerstone of family life. I believe that quality family time spent together is the key(regardless of the composition of family unit). With the ever increasing demands on parents time, I wonder how many of the problems are caused by a lack of family love. Again, not every killer will have been left to their own devices, playing violent video games, whilst drinking fizzy drinks and eating microwave pizza, for years on end. But I suspect for a goodly percentage, it is a factor.
And nutrition. How big a role does this play in regulating our behaviour? As a dyslexic, I read that oily fish improves brain function. Therefore I eat it regularly. Does it work? I don't know but I am far more productive and creative than I was in my early 20's on a diet of sausages, beer and bacon sarnies.
I suspect that bad nutrition is a factor, causing chemical imbalances, that leads to the situation where depression can occur. I don't believe eating a Big Mac transforms a sane happy individual into a psychopath, but a long term pattern of bad nutrition, vitamin deficiency and the associated side effects is yet another building block.
Another cause, one which there is research into, is brain irregularities causing bad behaviour. It is well documented that MRI scans of violent offenders shows significant correlation between violent behaviour and under development of areas of the brain. I read a study several years ago, where a researcher claimed he could predict the abnormalities identified in MRI scans from a criminals jail history. Could we spot future mass killers just by giving them a brain scan? I doubt it, in the short term, but it warrants further investigation.
And there are other factors that play a significant role in our behaviour. Studies have shown that rates of violent crime have plummeted since the addition of Lead to petrol was banned. Are there other substances/food additives that are playing a role?
And finally I wonder about violent sexual images. The internet is awash with these. 50 years ago we in the UK were taught to be respectful. If violence is equated to sexual tittilation, can we really be too surprised if this leads to extreme behaviour, especially in societies where there is free access to guns.
For me, the issues I mentioned above are all part of the jigsaw that fits together to form the personality of the type of person in the West, who commits mass killings. I don't think any one factor on its own will act as a trigger. Clearly if you throw into the mix a demagogue promoting a violent ideology, that bears no opposition, this will make these issues even more dangerous. Some commentators blame religion, but the worst mass killers of the last 100 years were secular, such as Pol Pot and Stalin. Dangerous demagoguery comes in all shapes, sizes, creeds and colours. To claim otherwise is to close our eyes to human nature.
As I mentioned at the top, I believe that the way to address these issues is not simply to look at each case then close the book. We need a global initiative to understand the causes, identify the common factors which can be dealt with, and to make sure that every time we get a mass killing, every agency that has a lesson to learn, gets the opportunity to learn. Such an approach has made flying safe. Far more people die in mass killings than air accidents, so surely it warrants a UN commission to address it. The idea that there is a simple answer would be like assuming that a fix that would prevent the undercarriage of a Lancaster Bomber collapsing on takeoff, would prevent every future plane crash in eternity. This is where polemicists such as Hitchens go wrong. The world is constantly evolving. The challenges my teenage children face are radically different to those I faced in the 1970's. The solutions are also radically different. Mass killers have always been around. What has changed is there toolkit, their motivation, their access to weaponry and their ability to use the Internet to feed their obsessions.
Whilst I suspect a bit of gun control in the U.S. would make a massive difference there to the number of deaths, without all of the other factors being addressed, sadly it will be a major issue for a very long time.'
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What really bugs me about Peter Hitchens is that he is very good at identifying difficult topics that need a debate starting. He is spot on that the subject of mass murder is something we need to look at.

He is also spot on that there is a horrendous amount of misprescribing of drugs, including mind altering anti depressants. I believe that  he is also right to identify that this is ignored because big Pharma makes loads of money out of it. 

And I also think that he is right to highlight the question of why cannabis seemingly seems to have a growing link to psychotic behaviour. For the record, and Pete refuses to even discuss this, even though I've previously emailed him on the subject, my view that use of systemic insectisides used in hydroponic grown cannabis, is a factor. I believe that there is a huge conspiracy of silence around this, of which Pete is a part. Why? because I believe it is useful for authorities to blame the psychoactive properties of cannabis rather than the rather nasty synthetic chemicals used in the cultivation, for the issues. This rather neatly fits the agenda that cannabis is a dangerous drug. I've yet to see a single scientific paper on this, yet police friends confirm that these chemicals are widely used in UK cultivation of skunk weed.



 

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Peter Hitchens will refuse to discuss the cannabis pesticide issue, because he fears being drawn into a situation where he must admit than cannabis has medicinal uses.

On the subject of drugs, Peter Hitchens is an absolute fanatic, who like all fanatics, belives that the end justifies the means. He makes outrageous claims, which I am certain he knows to be false, for example that the war on drugs has never been fought, that cannabis causes lifelong irreversible mental illness, that cannabis causes violence, as well claiming cannabis has no medicinal value.

He has in the past admitted that he is uninterested in rational evidence based debate, but instead is a "propagandist". In his public debates on cannabis, [where he is always soundly defeated], he hopes he can sow seeds in people's minds, and they will eventually come to believe that cannabis leads to mental illness, that it is not and never can be medicine, and that its use leads to violence, [the return of Reefer Madness].

People should be aware of just what the world would look like if a government were to listen to the likes of Hitchens on drug policy. He would ban the use of substitute drugs for opiate addicts, and close down needle exchanges, [watch while crime and disease go through the roof], and that cannabis users should go to prison for one year the second time they are caught. He dishonestly claims that very few people would end up locked up under his system, and it would only be a deterrent. The stupidity level of the hanging's too good for them brigade who salivate on every word uttered by the High Troll of the Right, the Pope of Prohibition, Peter Hitchens, is immediately apparent in their inability to realise that we surely have a "deterrent law"in place already. Simple possession of a Class B drug can technically be punished by an 8 year prison sentence. Nobody gets that kind of penalty, as our judiciary have realised the futility of drug prohibition and reduced the actual penalties imposed on those charged with cannabis possession.

Hitchens believes addiction does not exist. His opinion is that all drug users are nothing more than criminals in pursuit of selfish pleasures, and the only way to deal with them is through heavy police tactics and swinging sentences. Just like they do in the USA, where apparently more people now languish in the American criminal justice system than in Stalin's gulag at the height of the terror. Somehow, in Hitchens worldview, the 2million + people behind bars in the States, 50% of whom are there for drug "crimes", did not end up there because of the war on drugs. Its never been fought according to Hitchens

Rek Ryan said...

A very weak response, to be honest. You open it by denying Peter Hitchens' assessment of your use of "right wing ideologue" as a pejorative play to a left wing peanut gallery audience to jeer at, but later write, "I even take book tips from Right wing ideologues" - demonstrating the exact contempt for people subscribing to different beliefs Peter identified in your initial use. Similar disingenuousness runs throughout your article. What's with the use of "Pete" instead of the man's name, Peter? It's so ugly and snide.

The whole thing is stupid, though, because you appear to agree with Peter Hitchens. There are, yes, multiple causes of any accident, and Peter has identified and drawn attention to a widely ignored cause - the use of mind altering drugs. Surely someone who advocates very thorough investigations wouldn't want that factor to be overlooked? Peter's position has been for an inquiry into their use by the perpetrators of the atrocities committed. What exactly do you disagree with?

Frankly, you appear to just disagree with Peter Hitchens because, "oooh, he's a right wing ideologue! And my god, we left leaning liberals are enlightened and such people are hampering true progress!" So you mock them instead of engaging with them. It's simplemindedness like that which is suffocating discussion.

Rog T said...

If you didn't understand where I disagree, try reading it mate. I'm not going to bother repeating myself because you are too lazy to bother to read it the first time

John G said...

Mr Hitchens was correct: you have the debating skill of a squirrel. Good night.

Rek Ryan said...

I was being rhetorical to point out the tenuousness of your situation. Despite the fact a large number of the attackers are Islamic, you'll deny Islam as a major contributing factor, and despite the fact even more of the attackers use mind altering drugs, you'll deny that as a contributing factor. Instead, it's solely the cotributing factors you deem acceptable - absentee parents and sexualized violence. It's a filtering of reality to suit your narrative.

Rog T said...

Really now. At least squirrels have nuts. If you need someone else to do your thinking for you, it really is a shame you've chosen Pete😝

Rog T said...

Where did I deny mind altering drugs may be one of a number of factors? As to your Islamaphobic comments, there are fanatics at the edge of all ideologies. Communism (pol pot, Stalin), Hard Right (Hitler, Breivik, numerous US nut jobs), Christianity (inquisition). Given the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful decent people, it would be highly unfair to slur them. I'm a Christian, but I do not condone my co religionists who blow up abortion clinics or attack the staff who work there. Simplistic spouting of nonsense doesn't help anything

Anonymous said...

Ah look here we are. The Peter Hitchens fan club has shown up to denounce you for attacking their hero.

Personally, I think the description of Peter Hichens as a "right-wing ideologue" is completely accurate, and far less of an ad hominem attack than the insults he rains down on you, for challenging his Reefer Madness propaganda.

As for calling him Pete, please continue. Hitchens has spent years sounding like the pompous throwback to a previous era that he is, by insisting on calling Tony Blair "Anthony Blair", and Boris Johnson, "Alexander Johnson", [though that one was quickly ended after the referendum, and suddenly Boris is in].

Unsurprisingly Pete supports Brexit, declaring that he doesn't care how much economic pain it results in. Very easy to say when you live in a freehold house in Oxford with no mortgage to pay, and earn a quarter of a million pounds a year spewing little England outrage across the pages of the MoS.

Rek Ryan said...

Again, it's the simplemindedness of it which stands out. You compartmentalize Peter Hitchens as a right wing ideologue and thereby deny him any complexity because in your mind a right wing ideologue is a Scooby Doo villain. You do the same to anyone now who appears to take his side as his fan club and thereby deny them their complexity. It's childishness.

I recognise and admit your point about Peter Hitchens calling Tony Blair "Anthony Blair" and it occurred to me in my initial post. The difference, however, is in inviting us to call him "Tony" he's suggesting a familiarity and friendliness, and it's nothing but a cynical PR stunt to win elections, which Peter Hitchens refuses to partake in. To call him Pete, then, is again a contrived friendliness and familiarity, but one uninvited and instead blatantly intended as a mark of disrespect. It's that which is snide and ugly.

Your point, though, about Brexit is absolutely irrelevant to anything that's been said. But I suppose it's the dropping of all pretense - it was never about drugs or crime or terrorism, but rather just an opportunity to bash the right and a right wing ideologue (boo hiss). Incidentally, I am one of those many, many misguided working class Northerners in an economically deprived area who voted out, and your moral grandstanding about Peter Hitchens' social class and Brexit is either hilarious, offensive or pathetic. But you've demonstrated an inability to grasp actual complexity.

Rek Ryan said...

I missed Rog T's post - apologies.

All I did was address that there is a common thread in a majority of the terrorist attacks across Europe - they profess Islam. A statement of fact is Islamophobic? You deny the truth, then, because the truth offends. Christianity is a contributing factor in Westboro Baptist Church - is that Christianophobic? You can trace the historical development of ideas and understand how and why. To deny, though, that it is a factor is lunacy.

"Where did I deny mind altering drugs may be one of a number of factors?" - you didn't hence why I posted - "The whole thing is stupid, though, because you appear to agree with Peter Hitchens". He argues it's a contributing factor and there should be an inquiry. It should be investigated thoroughly. So you're in complete concord with him, I am sure?

Rog T said...

Rek,

I am not in complete concord with Pete. He asks for some sort of investigation into the role of drugs in mass murders. I feel that on its own this would be a waste of money, like amputating a bad finger to cure leukemia. If we are going to have an investigation, do it properly and go the whole hog, assess why and address the issues. I think that investigating radicalisation would also be worth covering as a part of the process. There are plenty of US far right/Christian websites that make comments like "We've a lot to learn from Islam" in relation to acts of violence committed by the likes of ISIS. I do think that if we don't get on top of this, things will deteriorate until they do.

Anonymous said...

Squirrels have nuts, 'tis true, but they are tiny, and their dicks amount to nothing 'tall. Good night, my sweet little squirrel.

Rog T said...

Well you are clearly the expert on squirrels dicks so I won't argue. I'm sure you'll have a marvellous night.

Rek Ryan said...
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Rek Ryan said...

It's true that there are a lot of factors and they all play into each other, but what criteria are you using to determine which are the most substantial? Peter Hitchens appears to assess it by prevalence - all of these unstable people are using mind altering drug, and although, as is repeated into infinity, correlation doesn't equal causation, the correlation isn't understood, and the strength of it demands people stop ignoring it. How can you be so confident it's only a bad finger?

Chris said...

I don't agree with Hitchens opinions on drugs whatsoever, and his position on cannabis and the War on Drugs is literally the polar opposite of mine. I believe in total decriminalisation.

But if you wish to persuade people of something in the future, I would advise you not to write an article jam-packed full of blatant smear tactics. It doesn't reflect well on you.

Anonymous said...

Ah but Chris, the squirrel has no interest in persuasion--his preoccupation is with his nuts.