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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Peter Hitchens

As I type, there is a blog debate between a Mr Tim Wilkinson of the Surely Some Mistake site, and Mr Peter Hitchens of the Mail on Sunday.

Peter Hitchens and Tim Wilkinson are going over the same points that usually crop up in the drugs debate, and a fine job is being made by the both of them.  I will not address the specifics of Peter’s arguments, it’s of no point to this post.  It is not my wish or intention to try and get in the middle of this interesting discussion, I would dearly like to point anyone who has not seen the exchange to go a view the ongoing discussion.

I am both lucky and humbled to receive a very good readership on my own blog.  My viewing figures are not that of the Daily Mail, but, between appearing on the BBC, whoring myself out on social media, the diligent word of mouth of followers, internet forums and linked sites, I hold a privileged position; I am listened to.  I thank all that do read.  This alone is possibly enough to spark an interest within Peter Hitchens.  He may be the full antipode to me, but knowing I hold a modest court may rouse a small curiosity.

I have tried to engage with Mr Hitchens a few times, I have left comments on his blog on numerous occasions.  I may not have any formal education due to my long-term battle with illness, but I can vaguely string a sentence together, and readers of my work will hopefully know I raise decent enough points.  It’s somewhat curious that my comments to Peter never make it through the moderation procedure.  Like most blogs, my comment terms are a free for all.  You are allowed any say, and you shall not be edited.  Peter does not grant the same degree of clemency.  I find this highly unfortunate.

However, this specific blog post of mine is not sour grapes, far from it.  Although I would dearly like to engage with Peter Hitchens, and on occasion I have written him personal comments to that effect, I now feel it’s time that I can lay my personal Hitchens demon to rest.

Firstly, let me explain how distorted Peter Hitchens' view is of the drugs debate.  He wilfully projects the image that those wishing for reform advocate a free market.  Of course, this is nonsense.  The point he never fails to brush under the carpet is that reformers wish for better control through some degree of state regulation.  Mr Hitchens also takes the stunted position of 'legal and illegal' drugs.  This is once more not how it works.  We have controlled and non controlled substances, and a full oxymoron to that effect.  Controlled substances have become feral through street control, and non controlled substances - such as alcohol -  have been given free reign as the industry pleases.  When addressed properly, you can soon see the pattern to why we have issues across the board.  Dealing in lazy language such as Peter Hitchens' simply endorses false notions.  All too often, the prohibitionist engages in a primary stream of discussion; 'Drugs are bad because.' - This does little to treat the symptoms of what is actually going on.  Drugs should be in a place of better control owing to harms, not in spite of them as Peter will advocate.  There is a somewhat stunted logic to the argument that something is bad, therefore perceived illegality is good.  As ever, Peter addresses but a mere surface scratch of an argument.

One of the allies of drugs reform has is attrition.  There is a certain shelf life to prohibition and prohibitionist arguments.  With decades to account for this 'control' model, we can collate all the information we need to make a measured decision.  Peter surely knows this, and this is why he has now gone down the somewhat curious path of declaring that “we’ve never had a ‘war on drugs‘” - and that it’s about time we had one.  This indeed reeks of last ditch efforts on a par with the dusty generals at Flanders.  Peter is now writing a book to this very notion proclaiming that we’ve never waged a war.  Any other person, and this would be labelled conspiracy theory, Peter is now teetering on this knife edge.

I am left with no doubt Mr Hitchens is a moral man, he professes to be so on every occasion, and I have witnessed him is some truly poignant pieces of television over the years.  There is a worrying part of any moral discussion though - (to which Peter basis most of his arguments on in the drugs debate) - morals are highly subjective.  Morals do not fit well with the politics of past.  Morals have been the catalyst of social fall outs and persecution for thousands of years.  Recent history also will attest that one man’s morality is another’s tyranny.  Politics, and especially the drugs debate, should be wary of pontificating that one knows better than the next.  To deliberately reiterate, Mr Hitchens’ main thrust of his sword is based on morals.

In the Policy Exchange debate on the 18th May, Peter came across on numerous occasions as quite bizarre.  In many ways, and ironically, this is a disappointment.  In this specific debate, his arguments were weak and out of place.  It was tantamount to a great boxer that had gotten in the ring one too many times.  As ever though, Peter based most of his rhetoric on morals.  He actively goaded Tom Llyod, and Sir Ian Gilmore, saying (in essence) that their position of social eminence was being abused given that they were personally debasing their own, and social, morals.  Indeed, as with any public figure that speaks out, Peter embarks on a similar tirade.  I fully disagree of course, I believe that the doctors, health professionals and police personnel such as Sir Ian and Tom Lloyd hold a necessitous duty to think of the people that are mandated to protect.  These eminent figures are bound by a code to think of the suffering of people, and to put politics secondary to the actuality of life’s trials.  These front line people are here to hold council on policy, not justify existing legislation.  On the swingometer of morals, I believe these professional figures to be acting in entirely the best interests by speaking out.

Perhaps the best part of this aspect of the drugs policy debate is the fact that rebuttal has a life span.  Each passing month now, prolific figures speak out for the utter failure on the war on drugs.  Peter Hitchens is charged with the task of shouting them down, and informing the public as to why they are wrong.  Even the most dug in of intellects will see that a loud voice that damns discussion on alternatives to judicial control can’t shout the loudest forever.  Peter will eventually realise that by telling an ever growing list of reformers that they are wrong for the umpteenth time may get tiresome and counter-productive to his own point.

Peter Hitchens is a highly intelligent man, no one can deny this.  I do wonder though, given his intellect, why he is unable to see that the 'war on drugs' is purely conceptual and nonsense.  I’m sure he can speak at length as to why the 'War on Terror' is of similar nonsensical tone.  We can’t fight concepts, we can only distort the political rhetoric and make things sound good.  Make no mistake, this moral man is trying to wage war on people; and this is something that he has personally opposed and found repugnant in many regions of the world.

To wear out the moral thread fully, let me conclude with two further points.  I ask aloud; given Mr Hitchens wishes to turn the screw on the war on people; is it moral that we incarcerate those that we deem as having problems?   That is of course if we conclude that worse case scenario is actually true; the other side of the coin is that the majority are non problematic drug users.  This is highly taboo to mention.  But, with my previous point in hand, Peter will probably be all too clear that we don’t imprison alcoholics, or threaten them with the proverbial stick approach, and yet he is a full advocate of hard line measures to those that have substance abuse issues.  I once more fail to see the moral reasoning in this approach.

To stretch the theme of morals to breaking point, I ponder one final point:  Given my personal circumstances and health - and why I’ve entered the drugs debate in the first place from a position akin to Peter's - I soon realised how out of step I was.  I can possibly be forgiven for taking a dislike to Mr Hitchens, I’m sure many in similar position do so.  I could possibly be forgiven in being allowed to hate Peter, and I deliberately use that word with some thought.  But, I don’t.  I actually strangely like the man.  I could envisage a really good conversation with him about an array of subjects.  I would even pencil him in at the famed who would you have at your dinner party game.  I simply believe Peter Hitchens plays the pantomime dame very well.  I have come to view him as an affable man with a devil’s advocates job.  I do not look upon him as my oppressor, my persecutor, but I see him as one of the best tools to hand in the reform sector.  If Peter’s arguments are running thin, then this speaks volumes.

Peter Hitchens is liberally mixing the arguments for reform up, he fails to speak on prohibition harms of substances, and never addresses pure sources and the merits of unadulterated substances.  His generic address of drugs is probably deliberate, but it’s certainly not cricket.  When we can grant emplacements that will ensure a full minimisation of harms through the regulation of substances, and even work within state control to lessen use - as we have with tobacco - Peter’s morals are simply perpetuating the very issues he fights to rescind.  Morals are indeed subjective and should probably be removed from the drugs debate in favour of science and evidence.

All I have ever really wanted from Peter is to be looked in the eye (so to speak) and for him to tell me why I am not allowed my personal freedom, why he wishes me 5-14 years imprisonment, and why I am to be granted no clemency in using a substance that has preserved my organs, and that has given me a quality of life that has until now been missing.  It would be a pleasure and thrill to engage with him, but I do not believe this will happen given previous excursions.

To fully conclude, please do keep it up Mr Hitchens, you’re now doing many favours for the case for reform.

Additional: Peter Hitchens was kind enough to reply, see here:


  1. Jason, I've grown to be quite fond of Peter. Having deliberately stood right in front of him at the various debates earlier in the year and heckled him relentlessly, at that last Policy Exchange event he could only greet me with friendly banter for he knows that I see straight through him now. He now heckles me back as "the leader of the cannabis party" which I take as a compliment!

    It is all only for effect.

    He has a book to sell yet so let us allow him that, then I feel, perhaps he could be turned. Possibly he could become a convert!

    My comments are never published on his blog either. I've pasted below my commnent that failed moderation on his latest post. He just makes me chuckle now though. We've got him on the run!

    Peter darling! Old boy, old friend, it's Peter from the PCC, your chum fom all those lively debates earlier in the year.

    It's a pleasure to see you develop your arguments a little more deeply here. I can only concur with your theories on pleasure and joy - which indeed it is for me to see you advance beyond the crowd pleasing and provocation which is your stock in trade. Here I see a more thoughtful chap but, regrettably, one still bound by a deep and irrational prejudice.

    Cannabis is not "fundamentally bad". This is why your argument is fundamentally wrong. Cannabis is a good thing. It is bound to us as the only source of cannabinoids outside the body and when our natural endocannabinoid system fails, it is entirely proper and a gift from God that we should supplement it with phytocannabinoids from this wonderful and life enhancing plant.

    I am unsure how far you have delved into this new science. The endocannabinoid system was only discovered in 1988 but is now known to be fundamental to all aspects of life. The central nervous system, the immune system, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, gastrointestinal and urinary tracts all contain cannabinoid receptors and are regulated by cannabinoids.

    Mankind has used cannabis safely and effectively for 5000 years. Only in the last 100 years or so has the experiment of prohibition stood in the way. It is no surprise then at the joy with which its rediscovery in the '60s was greeted. We know naturally that cannabis is good for us. It nurtures and nourishes us on physical, mental and spiritual levels.

    Of course, like Jeff, I agree with you that any society needs laws to protect each other and the whole from our base and selfish instincts but cannabis has no victim. It is not a crime. Indeed, it promotes peace and health and love and I know that you have the capacity to understand this. You have the intelligence and spirituality to be our greatest advocate of all. A converted Peter Hitchens, full of zeal, is my new goal!

  2. I hope this being the start of a new century that we will move away from moral politics and people will be free to do as they choose to there own bodies. I firmly believe the genie is out of the bottle now on the drugs front and although it will take time attitudes will change. Keep up the good work dude:)

  3. Ah Peter, you are getting stale aren't you. What is it the kids say nowadays? Pwned? I believe you've been well and truly.

    Good letter from Mr Reynolds up there too. Nice to see Hitchens is being treating with the disdain deserved. I can't quite go for the let him off camp as yet, but I certainly see your points. He is playing a role, a Dr Who villain, a bad one at that.

    He's drying up though, I think he known he's lost.

    Great work Jason!


  4. Great article Jason, exposing the floors in Peter (Hitchins') ridiculous view on drugs. Really enjoyed reading this mate.

  5. Wow! J, you've nailed him to the cross. If only he's reply, but ivory tower inhabitants rarely sully the doorstep of such people like yourself, they simply fear as you can not only tear him to shreds, but you're also in the position you're in, so it's like trying to wrestle a walking stick away from a war veteran. (no offence intended I hope you know!!!)

    Hitchens, you should be ashamed of yourself! Wish I was as forgiving as the men before me!


  6. I can't stand the man. Talking about him only gives him more power. I do agree though, he's on the wane. He's looking like a gimp nowadays and should probably back off the subject for the sake of his own fragile rep


  7. He's a ball bag. I'd not normally put something so lame, but, he is a ball bag yes?

  8. The Tim guy has done quite well. There's a few points (obviously) that I would have chipped in with, or not felt necessary to make, but that's the nature of debate right, we all know better. Good to see Hitchens has engaged with someone that can hold a good point though, that's rare!

  9. Peter Hitchens6 July 2011 at 12:45

    I cannot make head or tail of the verbal jungle above. I hope the author knows what he means, for I surely do not.

    But if Mr Reynolds (also above) would tell me when and where he posted the comment which he says failed moderation, I will investigate. In the meantime, he should resubmit it. I have never seen it before, and I can see no reason why it shouldn't have been published.

  10. Peter dear boy, you know that seedy rag, the one with 1762 mentions in despatches or whatever it was today? The Daily Mail isn't it?

    In "Think it possible that ye may be mistaken". I've posted it there twice. I'll try again.

    Chin chin!

  11. Thanks for the reply Peter Hitchens, didn't think it was too hard to read, no one else seems to have had trouble. Those who understand drug policy didn't seem to struggle. Flippant dismissal is an easy and obvious tactic, but thank you for replying nonetheless.

    You can still attend the dinner party any time you wish though, I'll explain in better terms. Clearly my lack of formal education doesn't translate well in written word.

  12. The garden of Edam
    The echalon enemies burst in and cried 'freeze!'
    The happy days harvest, lush up to the eaves
    2 slugs on a lettuce leaf scream "don't let-us-leave!
    We're just high on this lettuce - not disturbing da peas'
    The cabbage said nothing (he's a cabbage you see)
    But the radish (a radical) rose up to decree
    "We're born with a right to live life and be free
    That is: ALL life, born to land, lake or sea"
    The apples applauded, the plums too were pleased
    The chillis stayed chillin', smoking some cheese
    The cucumbers slumbered, numbed under the breeze
    But P.C. Pod picked 'em, and knicked 'em - believe
    'BASTARDS!' called carrots, and high buzzing bees
    Who buzzed round his head to drop off their fleas
    The stew that ensued was like a clip with John Cleese
    PC pod itched, now plagued with disease
    His chest full of pests as he started to wheeze
    Leek leaked on his leg and the peas weren't appeased
    The trug took his truncheon, the kiwis the keys
    The sprouts started spouting, like they were on Es
    The runner beans ran, 'til they found they'd no knees
    Then sat in formation, to flick him the Vs
    The kale was then bailed, and everything seized
    Apart from the slugs, who were quietly pleased...
    'til a finch flew right in and half-inched 'em for tea
    Where karma concluded - he fell out of his tree

    Moral of the story: Life could be great. God's provided us with Eden and all it's treats.
    It's the dark forces need weeding out.

  13. Hitchens! It reads perfectly well as you know, you've just torn a new one and you have no rebuttal! As said, that's a lame ass tactic to use, you're truly slipping.

  14. Mr Hitchens,

    I am a bricklayer, tech college for three years and no other education and I understood every word. Would you like to swap jobs?

  15. I never claim to be intelligent yet I am fairly fluent in English. I understood and followed every word.

    Mr Hitchens you are either trying to be an Internet troll or just cannot argue the points made.

    Please, prove me wrong.

  16. HA! Think we have the proof in the pudding that Hitchens has no idea how to reply to this, not because he didn't understand (can I call bullshit?!) but because Jason battered outside the usual rubbish arguments. Please please prove us wrong Hitchens, you've clearly been made a fool of in the nicest way (as Jason does, he's a better man than I!!). You'll never get a slanging or shouting match with Jason, he's far far too nice and that's why Hitchens has just been dismissive.

    Bravo mate, bravo, you're a dragon slayer tonight!

  17. Benny From Crossroads6 July 2011 at 14:12

    HAHAHA! Is that seriously the best you've got Mr H? That is beyond pathetic. Fair play for taking it on the chin, but you can't play dumb when every single person with a brain in their head can perfectly understand what's been said. It's school yard stuff Peter, really expect better from you. Face it, you and your morals have been shot in flames and by a greater man than you can ever hope to be!

    VIVA the Outlaw, well done Jason, full hats off!

  18. Perfectly understandable to me. If Peter Hitchens has trouble reading it I suggest he tries just the last two paragraphs.

  19. I wonder if Mr H realises, that when "educated" folk such as himself get home from work and pour themselves a glass of brandy, they are doing exactly the same as we are. Only their choice of drug is much more harmful than ours and they're gonna pickle their internal organs and we're not.

    Apologies if it sounds cynical, but I get a little comfort out of that

  20. Benny From Crossroads6 July 2011 at 14:26


    There are a long list of folk that would dearly like to pickle this social cretin!

    You of course make the most valid point of all though, I have little doubt PH is a full hypocrite. Unless he's practising full abstinence, I want this man to shut the hell up!

  21. Hooked, line, sinker, fishhhed in Mr H, you loose. Unless, you want to try and get moral with this man?! Go on, try it. You're a nasty piece of work!

  22. Verbal jungle?! lol, is that like herbal terrorism? You're a joke Hitchens. Can't win, so you try and mock. Shameful

  23. I would like to add that while Mr Hitchens may purport to speak about morals, that is actually the wrong word to use. Morality, on any rational analysis, has to boil down to concern for the wellbeing or suffering of creatures sufficiently conscious to be capable of experiencing wellbeing or suffering. Therefore, if we are to judge any given instance of cannabis use as morally wrong, it has to be because it causes suffering or precludes greater levels of wellbeing. This may be true for some people in worst case scenarios, but if cannabis use enhances some people's lives (or especially, if it alleviates suffering where one has a medical condition against which it is effective) then this has to count with equal strength against the proposition that it is wrong to use it. Hitchens seems to take it as read that it is in principle morally wrong to use cannabis, without attempting to show that the net consequences of cannabis use are actually worse than the net consequences of enforcing the laws against cannabis use. The point is that whether it is (generally) morally wrong to use cannabis is not just a matter of opinion, it is a factual question that hinges on the suffering that cannabis users either do or don't inflict on the world - a factual question that Hitchens is almost certainly wrong about, but that could be resolved in his favour if sufficient new evidence came to light. Until it does, we should be clear that Hitchens is not really advocating that the law be used to enforce morality; he is advocating that the law be used to enforce his own personal prejudices.

    By the way, I've not read all of his articles on drugs, only enough to know where he's coming from, but can anybody tell me whether he does take a consistent position and advocate adding alcohol to the list of prohibited drugs (there, there's an adjective I hope we can agree on) ?

  24. Great post Jason. When Mr Hitchens finally manages to understand it I will be interested to see how he answers however I wont hold my breath.

  25. Mr Hitchens, Jason has made himself perfectly clear as you well know. You're not going to get one up-man-ship with such a school yard trick as that. I respect you for taking the time to reply, but there are some very valid points in this post that many of us would like to hear a response to.

    Jason has put himself on the line and in public to represent people like myself, and that deserves attention, more credit and respect than you'll ever be entitled to. I have M.S, I've suffered for 14 years, cannabis, pure cannabis (not street product) has been my personal saviour and people like you directly hinder my life. How dare you be so flippant when you profess to be the most moral man in Christendom! You're morals mean that I'm in danger of 5-14 years inside a hell hole. I'm already in personal prison, so why should I face the literal just to appease men like you?!

    Jason is far too nice sometimes, he won't push you for answers, but I damn well want them!

    Patty, Sussex.

  26. Verbal jungle! Love it. Bit rich though coming from that heavy handed gonk. I can hardly dredge through his crap, for so many reasons.

  27. JASON! He's only bloody trying to dispel the medical issues now on his site! This man is evil, he has no morals whatsoever!

  28. Peter Hitchens8 July 2011 at 03:03

    If all those people who say they understood the main post could give their own brief(200-word?)summaries of its main points, I would be interested to see them (not least to see if they agreed with each other about what they are) . I've read it again, and I still don't understand it.

    And if our host hasn't grasped that *my* main argument is that the alleged 'War on Drugs' was called off in this country 40 years ago, so cannot be said to have 'failed, nor be blamed for the current state of affairs - which is broadly the result of unstated but actual decriminalisation, and is very close to what most contributors to this site say they want - then I really don't know how much plainer I can make this.

  29. Your comments are published here Peter. Why can't I leave a comment on any of your posts?

  30. No Peter, I refuse participate in your experiment.
    You're just postponing your reply and I would be very interested to see a good well thought out response to this article.

    The ball is in your court.

  31. Peter H - I find your theory that there is effectively legalisation of cannabis possession rather offensive. Whilst it's obviously not practical costs-wise to determine what cannabinoids every person in the country may of consumed, and to put all 'transgressors' in prison, what really irks is the fantasy that this vile oppression of our populace is being critiqued for being too SOFT. Reality is that the whole possibility of peaceful adult indulgence in many drugs is ruined by a war being declared on such choice that fundamentally shifts what might otherwise be a private, peaceful, fairly safe, pleasurable, medicinal, spiritual, harmonious, collective experience into a dangerous, criminal, unsettling one for no real benefit other than the preservation of govt drug dealing markets in tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceuticals. There is no widespead acceptance of the persons who use some drugs and this is entirely due to social conditioning designed to induce opprobrium and unease. Drug users (well some drug users) are prone to surveillance, arrest, drug testing, punishments all for no reason at all and yet you have the audacity to suggest we have de facto legalisation. Utter drivel.

  32. Peter Hitchens9 July 2011 at 06:17

    Mr Reynolds's comment has now been posted on my weblog. It had been caught by a spam filter, from which it has now been rescued, dried out and gently wiped clean before being displayed. No human agency was involved in its being trapped, and experts are even now puzzling over what it was that caused this. Mr Reynolds knows very well where to find me, and should alert me if this happens again.

  33. Mr Hitchens: I've made a brief summary for you, I hope it reads better and I send my apologies for not being clear to you. Thank you for responding on here.

    On a note regarding your site and the moderation: You tend to barrack people for citations and to prove figures. Your site doesn't allow urls, so to prove points via providing appropriate sources and citations can be quite tricky at times.

  34. Thank you everyone too for comments, as ever, much appreciated. Contributions, whether you agree with my comments or not, are always welcome.

    My email has taken a hammering over the last few weeks too, so please bear with me if I've not replied. Thank you for support and well wishes.

  35. What would Jesus do ? From what little we know of him, it's difficult to imagine he'd have waged a vindictive campaign over many years to lock up users of a medicinal herb with predominantly pleasant side effects.

    Perhaps Peter Hitchens could get an insight into the compassion and understanding of Jesus by rewiring his brain. A spell of isolation, fasting and contemplation should do the job. I would recommend a week to 10 days without food, but with normal hydration.

  36. Those potheads are all similary addled and deluded juvenile fuckheads.

  37. I must concur for some reason every pothead ive ever met has for some reason been totally fucked up mentally, I can can only wonder on which leads to the other?