Thursday, 26 December 2013

More proof that arguing with liberals is pointless: Peter Hitchens v. Matthew Perry on the issue of drugs

I meant to post this Newsnight item last week, when it was broadcast, but Christmas intervened. It involves the conservative newspaper columnist Peter Hitchens (brother of deceased alcoholic, Christopher) making some reasonable points about how drug addicts are treated by the criminal justice system, and substance-abusing former Friends star Matthew Perry, doing what many liberals (especially the less intelligent ones) seemingly can't help doing when anyone dares to disagree with them, i.e. resorting to sarcasm, personal insult, appeal to fallible pseudo-authorities and questionable research, and a deliberate, faux-naive misunderstanding of what their opponent is saying (the moronic "so you think all children should me murdered at birth" ploy whereby lefties seek to close down all argument by depicting their opponents as evil madmen). 

I post the "discussion" now, because my son mentioned it yesterday, suggesting  it has created something of a stir among educated young folk - which strikes me as a good thing.

What exactly our Justice Secretary and my former BBC News colleague Chris Grayling thought he was doing agreeing to waste time with a self-important me-generation wanker like Matt Perry, when, as a right-winger, one suspects that his views are more closely alligned with those of Peter Hitchens is anyone's guess: PR, one presumes. 

As someone who finds it easy to become addicted to just about anything other than hard work and physical exercise, I can (as Perry is so keen to do) speak from personal experience and reveal that addiction mainly results from a want of willpower - i.e. a lack of moral energy. Certainly, how strongly one is attracted to, say, Benson & Hedges cigarettes, Glenmorangie whiskey or Krispy Kreme donuts has a lot to do with how effectively they stimulate one's pleasure centres. For instance, I tried marijuana a number of times, and it barely made a dent - but Scotch, fags and toxically sweet foods instantly make me feel fabulous. How we react to these things has nothing to do with moral strength. The first time I got spectacularly - and messily - drunk (at the age of 13 on a school trip to Dinard), it wasn't really my fault. But every subsequent occasion when I found myself roaring down the porcelain telephone at the end of an evening of alcoholic excess certainly was. Similarly, making myself ill by smoking my first slimline cigar (purchased for 9d. at a tobacconists in Putney) at the same age wasn't really my fault: but being hoplessly addicted to cigarettes for the next 35 years most definitely was. I reckon I can be forgiven for piling on weight up until I went on my first diet at the age of 17 - but the fact that I spent a total of one out of the next 44 years at my ideal weight was, again, nobody's fault but mine. I don't have the moral strength to stop after a couple of drinks or stick to a few cigarettes a day or make do with one Belgian cholate at a time: I just thank God I knew myself well enough never to dabble in Class A drugs - I'd have been dead years ago. (P.J.O'Rourke tried crack cocaine just once and felt so spectacularly euphoric that he knew must never ever smoke it again.)

I'm perfectly happy for Perry and others suffering from vicious addictions to characterise their destructive proclivities as "allergies" or "diseases" if they find it helps them resist temptation - but only so long as they realise that they're using these words metaphorically. What addicts really mustn't do is shout and sneer at non-addicts who choose not to misuse language in order to aid them in this act of self-deception - that's no different from telling overweight people like me that we're big-boned or assuring alcoholics (in the words of Humphrey Bogart) that they were born two drinks below par. 

I've no idea what should be done about drugs: I suspect noboy does. I don't much fancy the main alternatives to the current, massively flawed system. Smothering addicts in kindess and understanding and absolving them of blame might help a few, I suppose, but the main result would be to make the smotherers (i.e. social-engineering "experts) feel cosmically great about themselves - and the welfare state has demonstrated how enervatingly destructive teams of state-appointed compassion-mongers can be. As for the bracingly hard-nosed libertarian alternative - cut out the criminal middle-man by putting drugs on open sale and letting the weak go to hell in the handcart of their own choosing - well, the idea gives relatively compassionless types like me a thrill, but I'm relieved no such system was in place when my son and his friends were teenagers. Or, come to that, when I was.  

1 comment:

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