The Foolishness of the Other Hitchens


Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories often contained cryptic references to Sherlock Holmes’ even smarter brother, Mycroft. If the main character in his stories had been Christopher Hitchens, the author would have needed to refer to his incredibly dull brother Peter.

Faced with the undeniable fact that governments all over the world have lost the war on drugs — that is, the war on personal freedom — Hitchens doubles down and demands ever harsher penalties for marijuana use.

Most cannabis users don’t find it such a marvellous experience that they’d be prepared to risk six months at hard labour for a second offence of possession (my suggested minimum penalty, the first offence being dealt with by a genuine ‘caution’, whose condition would be that the cautioned person never subsequently committed the same offence). Permitting premises to be used for its use would also be treated in the same way. This ( as with the smoking ban) has the effect of turning every householder or owner of commercial premises into an ally of the law.

After a brief flurry of convictions and imprisonment, during which the actual unyielding severity of the new law would be demonstrated, use would fall with amazing rapidity. My opponents know this. They know they would be too scared to carry on possessing under those circumstances. That is why they get so cross with me. Because my plan would work, and deprive them of their pleasure.

I have no doubt that, among dope-smokers as in the rest of society, there would be quite enough informers willing to earn money or favours from the police to ensure that all users had a lively fear of being caught and prosecuted.

It’s just a question of will, a thing our governing class has lacked for many years.

By the way, I’m not, as Mr Wilkinson characterises me, an ‘opponent of nannying, interfering government action.’

He must have mistaken me for someone else. I’m not a ‘libertarian’, whatever that is. I’m a conservative. I’m just an opponent of the *wrong sort* of nannying, interfering, government action.

No, you clearly are not an opponent of that sort of nannying; you’re blatantly advocating it. To make things worse, look who he compares himself to:

I believe myself to be descended from some of the Puritans who were Cromwell’s Ironsides, and I’m proud of that. When I listen to the excuses made for the culture of self-stupefaction, I can feel the scorn of those sober old Psalm-singers in my blood, and I’m with them. They looked the world full in the face, fought against what they thought was wrong, and also knew what they fought for and loved what they knew.

This country would not be what it is, if it fell into the hands of people who lay down, shrugged and giggled, rather than people who rose up and fought. I cannot make people care about this who don’t, especially those who have already altered their brains by taking such drugs. But I hope there are enough of the old sort to see that changing your perception rather than reforming reality is the road to slavery.

Rarely has eloquence been put to use defending a position so inane.

Comments

  1. says

    Rarely has eloquence been put to use defending a position so inane.

    I dunno. Some of William F. Buckley’s writings on civil rights for blacks are up there with this.

  2. MIchael Heath says

    Peter Hitchens:

    When I listen to the excuses made for the culture of self-stupefaction . . .

    Is he projecting based on his conservative ideology, religious beliefs, or a combination of both?

    I think Mr. Hitchens needs a lesson in the causes of self-stupefaction, some examples, and what populations are particularly prone to demonstrate such thinking.

  3. Chiroptera says

    …the undeniable fact that governments all over the world have lost the war on drugs — that is, the war on personal freedom….

    Oh, in that case, it sounds like the governments all won. We, the people, are the ones who lost.

  4. wantmyrealnamehere says

    I wonder how he determined 6 months as the length of the hard labour sentence? If his goal is to make it so people view the punishment as too great a risk to be worth the “reward” of smoking, why not make it 6 years?

    As a side note, can I ask for help on how to create my profile to post here? I want my username to be similar to those who’ve already posted on this thread, but WordPress is saying I can’t have uppercase letters nor spaces. Any help is appreciated.

  5. says

    I’m actually not a ‘cannabis enthusiast’, but it seems that temporarily “changing your perception” doesn’t have to be “the road to slavery.” C.f. alcohol…

  6. Chiroptera says

    wantmyrealnamehere:

    When you are logged in, there is a drop down menu in the upper left that allows you to edit your profile.

    Type in what you want for your display name.

    Below that is a drop down menu that allows you to select the display name.

  7. rabbitscribe says

    “… you reach for the pill, or the bottle or the spliff or the syringe…”

    Yes, because beer is Oxycotin and cannabis is heroin.

    “There is without doubt some correlation between the use of cannabis and permanent, irreversible mental disturbance.”

    Citation needed…

    “Cannabis users know (that cannabis is valueless), as they also know that they are privately concerned by some of its effects on them, but they prefer not to admit this to opponents such as me.”

    The Amazing Peter- Mind Reader Extraordinaire! For his next magical trick: pick a card, any card!

    “The truth is that cannabis is predominantly and almost invariably used as a pleasure drug, not as medicine.”

    Which is to say, it’s used for pleasure most of the time and almost always. Peter, I think your editor might be smoking something.

    I really dislike the experience of cannabis intoxication. Would someone who enjoys it do me the favor of taking in a few healthy lungfulls on my behalf? I would so appreciate it- thanks very kindly.

  8. says

    governments all over the world have lost the war on drugs — that is, the war on personal freedom

    More like: they’ve lost the war on drugs, and personal freedom was collateral damage (or more cynically, they won the war on personal freedom).

    Note to previous poster: Assuming this comment appears properly, I seem to have managed it. You have to go in the Profile and fill in a screen name.

  9. John Hinkle says

    Yes Peter, as anyone can see, illegality and penalty have done so much to reduce drug use and its associated crimes. There’s no correlation between legality and lower crime, right?

    And “depriving pleasure”? Sounds like you don’t like other people enjoying themselves.

    So Peter, what vices do you have that should be illegal and penalized by months of hard labor? Don’t worry. According to your plan, governments have plenty of money to incarcerate bad boys like yourself.

  10. tacitus says

    Conservatives don’t like the fact that rehabilitation and education work far better than punishment. I just heard Todd Friel of the Christian “Wretched Radio” yucking it up with someone from the Disco ‘Tute about how Norwegian prisons are better than most American hotels, and how the atheistic Scandinavians have lost their way and no longer understand how to deal with criminals in their world of relativism.

    Yet, compare the recidivism rates of Norway and the USA, and you’ll quickly find out who is right — and it’s not even close. Between 60% and 70% of convicted Americans re-offend upon release. Only 20% of convicted Norwegians do. I don’t know about you, but I think those non-Christians are on to something. Just consider the scale of the collateral damage the US system wreaks in terms of future lives ruined by all that extra criminal activity.

    And of course, with drugs too, rehabilitation works far better than punitive punishment. I guess Hitchens didn’t see the results of the Portuguese experiment that has managed to cut the number of hardcore drug users in half in just ten years, even as neighboring Spain continues to struggle under a more traditional regime.

    The most amazing thing about all this is just how completely conservative Christians now reject the notion that treating people like human beings actually gets results.

  11. says

    If “self-stupefaction” and abetting such activities on one’s premises should be crimes, what are the penalties for beer and scotch drinkers and the pub owners?

    Peter is right about one thing, his only aim is to deprive people of their pleasure with no good policy reason to do so. That’s usualy a result of envy by people incapable of of it themselves.

    BTW, just who is this “governing class”? Here I thought Britain was a liberal democracy! No wonder he admires Cromwell.

  12. abear says

    Poor Peter, all those potheads hate bombing his site by defending their “greasy pleasure” and all he’s trying to do is “reform reality”.
    Here’s some news; reality is, it doesn’t need reforming. If Peter Hitchens really had any respect for reality and truth he would look into facts before going off on self righteous rants about throwing people in jail.

  13. piercerbutler says

    Hmmm.

    Swaggering macho bluster – check.

    Sado-stupid ideas – check.

    Unjustified assertions – check.

    Proposals harmful to constitutional liberties and public treasury – check.

    Time for a DNA test, and some records-checking. Were Momma Hitchens and G.H.W. Bush anywhere near each other ~9 months before Peter’s birth?

  14. Phillip IV says

    When I listen to the excuses made for the culture of self-stupefaction, I can feel the scorn of those sober old Psalm-singers in my blood, and I’m with them.

    OK, I guess I can accept that whenever Hitches sees somebody having fun, he starts channeling a bunch of murderous, delusional zealots from the 17th century who started a bloody civil war over issues of faith so arcane that people no longer gave a crap about them as early as three decades later. What I don’t get is how Hitchens thinks that pointing out that fact makes his arguments stronger.

    They looked the world full in the face, fought against what they thought was wrong, and also knew what they fought for and loved what they knew.

    Just like any other group of violent extremists throughout history?

  15. sadiemorrison says

    The authoritarian approach has admittedly been an abject failure, so Hitchens’ brilliant advice is to double down on the authoritarian approach? That goes beyond foolishness and straight into dangerous idiocy.

  16. says

    @sadiemorrison – that’s typical of authoritarianism, though. As Hannah Arendt points out, totalitarian world-views thrive by presenting an objective that is an idealized view of reality – if you can get all the minions to sacrifice and strive for the nonexistent, there’s no danger of them ever achieving it.

  17. Taz says

    It’s funny he mentions Cromwell considering they dumped the protectorate shortly after he died and reinstated the monarchy under Charles II, known as the “Merry Monarch”. Pity this fool can’t figure out what his countrymen learned in the 1600’s.

  18. pacal says

    It is hilarious what some people think is worth wasting resources over. So a very expensive legal regime complete with paid informers and draconian penalties is required. Yep a police state solution for what isn’t a horrible problem.

    The use of pot from what evidence we have available does not cause serious problems overall. Alchol and Tabacco by comparison cause vastly more serious problems. Alchol use esspecially creates hardcore adicts who commit series offences. Yet I doubt Peter will consider banning Alchol and sending people to jail at hard labour for 6 months.

  19. Freeman says

    Funny how the naturally self-stupefied can’t wrap his head around “the culture of self-stupefaction”. What a twit!

  20. illdoittomorrow says

    Ever since seeing John Lithgow’s recital of Newt Gingrich’s press release, I can’t help but imagine how he would perform some pompous and stupid bit of bloviation like this.

  21. Tycho the Dog says

    This Hitchens writes, of course, for the Daily Mail, and amongst other things is a creationist.

    The idea that punitive punishments are effective is highly attractive. It make sense ‘common-sensically’ and also satisfies a desire to take revenge on individuals who won’t follow the rules. The problem is it just doesn’t equate to how humans (other than Daily Mail readers?) actually think and behave.

  22. madscientist says

    I wouldn’t call *that* Hitchens’ writing “eloquent” – it is a mountain of the fetid corpses of cliches and nostra. Reading Peter Hitchens is as exciting and pleasurable as watching the pope go to the toilet. The man is simply an idiot. He wants people to fight rather than to lie down and giggle – fight what? The imbecile doesn’t even care to get facts on matters – for example, he’s claiming that cannabis has *always* been illegal – clearly not true, in fact in any nation in which it is illegal you can find documentation of when it was proclaimed illegal. Nor is the argument from antiquity worth a damn even if his claim were true. Quite frankly I’m surprised he didn’t mention how the Dutch are always all doped up and killing and robbing eachother thanks to their decriminalization of pot.

  23. Pierce R. Butler says

    sorceror: I couldn’t find any evidence that Peter Hitchens was a ‘creationist’ in the ‘young Earth’ sense. He’s just an IDiot.

    So? IDCreationism and YECreationism differ only in that the latter takes a clearer position on geology and the identity of the purported creator …

  24. Petr Hitchens says

    Thanks for the attention. But the commentary here is mainly composed of rather boring and unoriginal personal abuse (to which anyone with unfashionable or non-conformist opinions is quite accustomed)rather than argument. I have been insulted by experts in my time, and my assailants have much to learn about the art. More importantly, it wastes space that can be devoted to facts and logic.

    It also wholly ignores two of my substantive points.

    The first(the subject of the book I am currently writing) is the fact that the ‘war on drugs’ has not failed, because it never took place. In Britain, the Misuse of Drugs Act in 1971 effectively decriminalised cannabis possession following the recommendations of the Wootton Report, and possession of other illegal drugs is now treated similarly (the alleged singer Pete Doherty was recently found in possession of heroin in a court of law, when it fell from his coat pocket, and was not significantly punished for this offence).

    So the state of drug abuse in modern Britain is the consequence of the very policy the decriminalisers call for, which has been in place for 40 years.

    My further point, that cannabis carries a mental health risk, is dealt with at length on my blog and in my debate with Mr Wilkinson at his blog (‘Surely Some Mistake’). I am amazed at the self-interested complacency of the cannabis lobby, when confronted with this truth. I am amazed because these people claim to be both responsible and intelligent. They cannot be both, if they promote this policy. I leave them free to choose which of these characteristics they wish to disavow.

    They remind me very strongly of Big Tobacco, and of its allies, the militant smokers, in the early years after Richard Doll posited a link between cigarettes and lung cancer. Both persisted in claiming that it was just correlation, and correlation did not prove anything. Well, we know how that ended.

    Members of the cannabis lobby, confronting this sort of attitude amonmg people they disliked or disapproved of (such as me), would call it ‘denial’. In this case, they would be right.

  25. 386sx says

    Did everyone not notice that “Petr Hitchens” responded here in the comments? Just wondering!

  26. Modusoperandi says

    Petr Hitchens “But the commentary here is mainly composed of rather boring and unoriginal personal abuse…”
    *Pbbt!* Do you really think we’re going to waste our ‘A material’ on you?

    “The first(the subject of the book I am currently writing) is the fact that the ‘war on drugs’ has not failed, because it never took place.”
    If true, do you really think the best path is the American (“Tough on Crime”) example, or would a better one be one that doesn’t throw your friends, relatives and neighbours in jail?

    “My further point, that cannabis carries a mental health risk, is dealt with at length on my blog and in my debate with Mr Wilkinson at his blog (‘Surely Some Mistake’).”
    Yes, there is a downside of high. It’s a small risk (and one in which pot is just one contributing factor), but it’s there. It is not, however, Reefer Madness.
    Enjoy your snifter of brandy while you watch that episode of Nature of Things. For the irony.

  27. Peter Hitchens says

    The standard, scripted responses of the pot campaigners are so repetitive and unoriginal. Do theybget them out of Christmascrackers?

    ‘Snifter of Brandy’ indeed.

    I don’t drink brandy except sometimes at Christmas, (or anything else much beyond the increasingly infrequent small glass of wine) and as far as I know only pro-cannabis campaigners use or refer to the expression ‘Reefer Madness’. They do so to caricature the legitimate concerns raised (for example) in Patrick and Henry Cockburn’s recent book ‘Henry’s Demons’. You should all read it.

    The circumstantial evidence that Henry suffered severe irreversible mental illness because of cannabis use is very strong. Those who wish to reject it on the grounds that it *is* circumstantial are asked to explain what sort of evidence they would accept, and how precisely they think it would be obtained. If there were circumstantial evidence of this strength against any commercially avilable drug, I am sure they would be among those calling for it to be withdrawn from sale. And those who place faith in ‘regulation’ need to know that Henry first came into contact with cannabis around the age of 12, when even the most liberal form of ‘regulation’ would presumably have forbidden its sale to him. Yet if he could obtain it at that age when it was formally illegal, how much more able will children of that age be able to obtain it if it is formally decriminalised and ‘regulated’?

    I find the self-interested complacency and superior smugness of cannabis campaigners particularly unpleasant in the light of this case, which has affected people known to me personally.

    I don’t advocate the US approach. Why would I? The USA is an entirely different country from Britain and has different problems and different ways of dealing with them. From what I know, the USA has informally decriminalised cannabis in many jurisdictions using the ‘Red Herring’ (copyright Keith Stroup) of ‘medical marijuana’. This doesn’t seem very ‘tough’ or ‘prohibitionist’ to me.

    I advocate the restoration of the pre-1971 English law. If people break laws, they should be punished. if they don’t want to be punished, all they need to do is not break the law. You can’t blame a law for the fact that people break it, or you are saying that crime is caused by law. And surely that is an absurd position.

  28. Coryat says

    Lol, I didn’t think Peter Hitchens was actually a real person – I thought people just invented him for allegorical purposes.

    “The circumstantial evidence that Henry suffered severe irreversible mental illness because of cannabis use is very strong. Those who wish to reject it on the grounds that it *is* circumstantial are asked to explain what sort of evidence they would accept, and how precisely they think it would be obtained. If there were circumstantial evidence of this strength against any commercially avilable drug, I am sure they would be among those calling for it to be withdrawn from sale.”

    Regularised statistically significant data would be nice, preferably obtained by some kind of scientific investigation. Failing that a suppose a few heart-tugging anecdotes should do it.

    ‘I have been insulted by experts in my time[…]’. I bet.

    “I advocate the restoration of the pre-1971 English law. [against burnt out idiots). If people break laws, they should be punished. if they don’t want to be punished, all they need to do is not break the law. You can’t blame a law for the fact that people break it, or you are saying that crime is caused by law. And surely that is an absurd position.”

    J’accuse!

    P.S For any non-UKreaders confused about Britain’s drug policy don’t worry, he’s talking bollocks.

  29. Coryat says

    “[…]But the commentary here is mainly composed of rather boring and unoriginal personal abuse (to which anyone with unfashionable or non-conformist opinions is quite accustomed)rather than argument. ”

    oh, so rather than being an unpleasant old fossil trying to reinscribe outdated laws, it is in fact you who is the victim here. Somebody get me the smelling salts!

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