Peter Hitchens: Never knowingly out-crazied

It must be tough for the more established Daily Mail / Mail on Sunday stable of writers to feel special now that Rightminds has opened up the Mail website to huge torrents of baffling lunacy. They must look fondly back to the good old days when they knew their own brand of rabid, ignorant ramblings were the toast of the website and equally bovine readers could flock to their comments sections to heap praise upon them. Alternatively, they just embrace the change by ramping up their own lunacy to try and stay one step ahead of the new breed of moronic babblers.

Peter Hitchens – posting his normal weekly drivel today – certainly seems up for the challenge of competing. Whilst James Delingpole started brightly today with his assertion that ‘the BBC fell for a Marxist plot to destroy civilisation from within’ simply because presenters use CE and BCE as well as AD and BC, Hitchens has fought back with this:

Mr Cameron is far closer to Mr Clegg than he is to his own voters.

He loves being manacled to him, and much prefers Coalition to governing alone.

Mr Clegg helps David Cameron ensure that the Government remains pro-EU, pro-crime, anti-education, pro-tax, politically correct and pro-immigration.

The coalition government is ‘pro-crime’ – and, worse than this the government ‘remains’ pro-crime, so that must mean New Labour were also ‘pro-crime’.

‘pro-crime’. And yet Peter Hitchens sometimes seems shocked when people point out to him that he’s more than just a bit dim, really, underneath his attempts at eloquence and his condescending manner. Wasn’t this the government that was determined to make an example of anyone involved in the riots, handing down severe sentences including a 4-year term for someone who posted messages on Facebook. That’s a real pro-crime agenda right there.

It’s a wonderful technique, employed by Peter here and used by so many of his fellow ‘Rightminds’ writers, to simply list things like this as if they are so self-evident they require no further explanation. Yes, the government is somehow ‘anti-education’. Peter doesn’t tell us why, he doesn’t need to, ironically, because fans of his work are the kind of dumbed-down ‘tell-us-what-to-think-please’ idiots that are presumably a product of the nation’s education system since way before the coalition or New Labour came to power.

Just a quick point

The Daily Mail (and Peter Hitchens) do like to drivel on about the ‘thought police’ and how apparently no-one is safe from them. Today the Mail has posted this story online: ‘The ‘coconut’ hate crime investigation that shows NOBODY can escape Britain’s Thought Police’. And again, the story does not relate to what someone thought, but rather on what someone actually said out loud and was recorded saying. It wasn’t a personal thought, it was a public comment that happened to be recorded.

Can the Daily Mail and Peter Hitchens please try to understand the vast difference between thinking something and saying something out loud. It really shouldn’t be difficult to tell the two apart: the thought is not heard by anyone, whereas when something is said out loud people can hear it (if you look at the person speaking you would normally expect to see their lips move).

Peter Hitchens on rape

Peter Hitchens does not understand freedom of speech. There, I’ve said it. Whenever anyone has a debate about anything which he feels passionate about he immediately screams that we’re not living in ‘a free country’ because the awful liberal governments and the PC brigade keep trying to shut down debate. Which seems a bit odd to me, given that the right-wing, anti-liberal, anti-PC Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express and the Sun amongst others constantly mock the only wet, lilly-livered, liberal, PC-enthralled newspaper (the Guardian) for having a tiny circulation compared to the utterly dominant right-wing press. It seems to me that the ‘liberal elite’ are doing a pretty shocking job at shutting down debate in the way that Peter constantly suggests.

Peter’s been banging on for years about how free speech is dying out and being shut down, whilst all the while he has been paid to write precisely what he wants without censure. It seems to me that Peter doesn’t have a clue what freedom of speech or thought truly means. It seems to me that what Peter really objects to is the expression of viewpoints which differ from his very narrow and distorted view of reality.

This week a debate has taken place about rape, caused by Ken Clarke’s comments on the subject. Lots of people got offended for a variety of reasons – some just, others just opportunist political point scoring. Suffice to say a lot of people called for Ken Clarke’s head and a lot of people showed support for him. It was typical of the kind of debate in which both sides could express themselves freely because as much as Peter suggests otherwise: we unequivocally live in a free society (albeit one which is under the increasing influence of a morally bankrupt press in which Peter plays a vital, unwitting role – yet he ironically thinks he is the last remaining rebel).

I’ve already covered Richard Littlejohn’s moronic attempt at stirring-up some controversy on Friday, but its good to see that Peter Hitchens isn’t going to let one tired old hack get the better of him when it comes to writing absolute rubbish for a pay cheque. Peter – much like Richard – gets the caveat out of the way early on before commencing on the usual predictable rant about ‘liberals’, PC-gone mad brigades and feminists:

I am sick of the censorship that surrounds the issue of rape.

So I shall defy it. Of course all rapes are bad. But some rapes are worse than others.

It takes a while for Peter to actually tell us what makes some rapes worse than others, because before he gets to the point he spends ages telling us about how we don’t have the freedom to say anything anymore:

Even for saying this, I know quite well that I will get raging, lying abuse.

This is what happened to Kenneth Clarke, when he went on the radio and tried to speak his mind as if this were a free country.

As he quickly found out, it is not. I am sorry that he was in the end forced to grovel. But this is a Liberal, PC government, and I am not surprised.

Revolutionary feminism, which regards all men as predators and sees the married family as a sordid prison, has scared most politicians, most judges, most journalists, most civil servants – and most people – into accepting its nasty dogmas.

Oddly enough, Mr Clarke would normally be an ally of this cause. But ultra-feminist zealotry is bitterly intolerant of any disagreement, however gentle or thoughtful. Nothing short of total submission will do.

Just like Richard Littlejohn Peter tries to pretend that only ‘revolutionary feminism’ has a problem with rape and that somehow this ideology has control – through fear – of just about everyone. Just look at the list Peter makes, according to him ‘revolutionary feminism’ has ‘scared most politicians, most judges, most journalists, most civil servants – and most people – into accepting its nasty dogmas’.

Peter is therfore brave to speak out against such an all-powerful lobby. Except that even cowards like Richard Littlejohn have spoken out on the same topic in a similar way – and he was also paid for it, which seems odd given that censorship would normally punish not reward such behaviour. Furthermore, if the ‘ultra-feminists’ really have so much power and ‘Nothing short of total submission will do’ for them, how is it that Peter and Richard have managed to get these articles published? Do they write for some sort of revolutionary underground publisher? Are they being tracked down as I write this for crimes against ‘ultra-feminism’?

Or is Peter just talking a load of absolute shite as normal, writing as he is for one of the most influential newspapers in the country whilst at the same time trying to argue that his rabid views are being censored?

Moving on past the oft-repeated padded-cell drivel he finally gets to telling us all what rapes are less serious than others:

in this case rape does not usually mean what most people think it means – the forcible abduction and violation of a woman by a stranger. It means a dispute about consent, often between people who are already in a sexual relationship.

He’s pretty clear at least: if you are forcibly abducted and violated by a stranger then congratulations: you were raped and it was serious!

However, in any other circumstance you may have been raped, but it’s less serious.

So, logiccally, if you know someone – maybe a work colleague or a friend of a friend and they forcibly abduct and rape you, then this – according to Peter Hitchens – must be less serious than if it were a stranger. Likewise, if you are in a sexual relationship with someone and they rape you, it is no longer a serious rape, but merely a ‘dispute about consent’ – you were probably just playing hard to get.

If I’m being a little harsh on Peter or taking his words a little too literally, then may I direct you to an article he wrote in 2008 (in which he again claims that the left is trying to censor the debate):

Women who get drunk are more likely to be raped than women who do not get drunk.

No, this does not excuse rape. Men who take advantage of women by raping them, drunk or sober, should be severely punished for this wicked, treacherous action, however stupid the victim may have been.

But it does mean that a rape victim who was drunk deserves less sympathy.

Simple, isn’t it? You can hate rape and want it punished, while still recognising that a woman who, say, goes back to a man’s home after several Bacardi Breezers was being a bit dim.

Peter will be estactic that he receives attention for what he writes, because to him it proves that the ‘liberals’ are out to get him, to censor him, to shut down debate because the liberals are the ones secretly running the world.

I’d just like to remind him that criticism is not the same as censorhip. Ken Clarke was criticised for his comments, Richard Littlejohn was criticised for his comments and now he is being criticised for his comments. No censorship, no call for the abandonment of free speech, this is just me exercising my freedom to discuss a matter I care about. What Peter might want to think about is that he is paid to write for a potential audience of millions, I am unpaid and write to an audience of hundreds on a bad day, a couple of thousand on a good day. Can he still credibly claim to be censored?

Of course not. But you can bet your life savings that he will.

Dear Peter Hitchens: It does not follow

Peter Hitchens in an small aside in his Mail on Sunday column again linked rampage killings to antidepressants:

Tristan van der Vlis, the Dutch rampage killer who murdered six people last week, is said to have spent time in a psychiatric institution. Was he prescribed antidepressants?

The trouble with this suggested link is that it is not based on any real evidence and is compounded by lots of factors that need to be taken into account – it is not a topic that can be understood without forcing your mind to be as rational as possible. Firstly, a key study:

found an overall trend for any antidepressant treatment to reduce the risk of suicidality in people aged 25 years or above.

In the under 25s, however, there was a non-significant increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviour (preparatory actions for suicide or attempted or completed suicide) with antidepressant treatment. When limited to suicidal behaviour alone this increased risk became significant.

But it didn’t speculate about antidepressants leading to rampage killings. This speculation has only been made by the media and by Hitchens on several occasions, it is not based on any evidence and merely relies on the fact that some killers had been prescribed some form of antidepressant (or in this case had merely sought help from a psychiatrist).

Such links are caused by people putting to one side the most blindingly obvious variable that influences the behaviour of anyone prescribed antidepressants: they are depressed. When the media links antidepressants and suicide they seem to ignore the fact that the person was depressed and possibly suicidal before being issued with the medication. The medication may have failed to prevent that person committing suicide, but this is very different to blaming the medication for being the direct cause of suicide.

Likewise, a deeply troubled individual might be given a cocktail of drugs in order to attempt to control their behaviour, but these might fail and that person might end up killing someone or worse, killing many people in a seemingly random act of violence. Again, blaming the medication is to ignore the underlying mental illness that put them at risk of committing such an atrocity and led them to medication in the first place.

Objectively, any medication issued could be a contributing factor – we cannot know how any  individual will respond to any medication given and prescribing doctors might not be aware of other influencing factors not declared by the patient. Treating mental illness is far from an exact science because the patient is often an unreliable narrator of their own mental state and physical symptoms. It is complex, it is difficult and it is not helped by people like Hitchens believing that they’ve made some fabulously insightful link based on nothing more than their own ignorance of compounding factors – even when they are as obvious as they are here.

The truth is we will probably never uncover a satisfactory reason for why individuals commit such acts – and as the protagonists of suicide and rampage killings are usually dead at the end of the event we are reduced to speculation – but such speculation should be clearly labelled as such by all involved. However, the lack of a satisfactory reason for such behaviour should not lead to the vacuum being filled with commentators blaming medication when they have no evidence to make such a claim.

It seems to me that any act of random violence or the decision to commit suicide could be made with or without the differing influence of any medication – the medication is just one of many variables that could play a part in any action. Of course, we can’t ever know this because the protagonist is normally dead so we can’t experiment with the impacts of stopping medication to see whether they still want to commit suicide or not.

Blaming medication is lazy, simple-minded and above all ignores the myriad of complex reasons as to why people end up seeking medical help for a mental illness in the first place. Perhaps if as a society we focused more on well-being we wouldn’t need to write around 23 million prescriptions of antidepressants a year – but then I suppose that’s the kind of airy-fairy liberal wish-wash that Hitchens’ despises. After all, the Daily Mail is clear about what it thinks of depressed people:

Above all, columnists need to understand that we are not rational beings so we have to constantly force ourselves to think rationally. I am sure Mr Hitchens is aware of cum hoc and post hoc arguments as well as knowing what a non sequitur is. I can only appeal to him to re-read his columns with these arguments in his mind so he can clearly see where he is using them and why such arguments constantly undermine his writing.

Honesty

I wanted to leave this topic well alone, but unfortunately Peter Hitchens is now claiming on his own blog that:

Intrepid Web voyagers may also be able to find an encounter with me and one of my more virulent critics, in which I have caught him red-handed distorting my words, and he and his supporters insist that this is perfectly all right.

My crime was to copy and paste something I had written in an earlier blog post, here is what I wrote in the comments:

I admitted – twice in the post – that I had pointlessly ranted, but how else can you engage with a writer who actually claimed in the column that I was writing about that: ‘most of our elected leaders are “unrepentant illegal drug-takers”‘

People interested in the complete post can read it here (because Peter seems to have an aversion to linking to sources).

Now, what I put into inverted commas was what I had written previously, only the words in speech marks belonged to Peter Hitchens – his original words:

So many of our leaders now are unrepentant illegal drug-takers themselves that they shouldn’t be trusted near the making of laws*.

I pointed out to Peter that I was quoting my own words and his – as shown by inverted commas and speech marks – but I apologised for the clumsy introduction which was misleading. Rather than accept this and move on he accused me of blatant distortion, dishonesty and concluded that the credibility of this blog was now in ruins – ending with his final comment:

Final, final, final word. It is clear from all above that in this little world, objecting to dishonesty and distortion is ‘pedantry’, and twisting the words of others is excusable. No absolutes here, then. Truth here is a relative concept. That’s the choice of the host of this site and of his friends. Very well. The rest of us can now with confidence refer to this place in future as ‘The site that makes up quotes’.

Hence my lovely new tagline. One little detail and everything I have ever written can be dismissed as far as Hitchens’ is concerned. Nicely done.

Anyway, throughout the ‘debate’ – most of the time it really doesn’t deserve the term – with Hitchens I was open and honest as usual – even in the comment that led him to accuse me of distorting his words I linked to my original post that would have set any reader straight about my clumsy quotation immediately (they would see I was copying and pasting what I had written earlier, not purposefully putting words into his mouth) – hardly the actions of someone being purposefully deceptive or dishonest. I moderated no comments, the thread stands in its mind-numbing entirety for any neutral observer to make their own mind up about the terrible nature of my crime, and the superb intellectual victory scored by Mr Hitchens.

Except, although he keeps referring to this blog and his victory over anyone who argues with him, he won’t link to it. He doesn’t trust his own readers to make their own mind up; instead he just fills them in with his version of events. He may argue that the level of ‘critics’ he encountered was too low to warrant a link, but it seems apparent to me that he simply could not defend his position on passive smoking so he therefore decided to derail the argument in order to ‘win’ on his own terms.

Peter Hitchens can accuse me of whatever he likes, I stand by my arguments about why he is wrong about passive smoking (more about this later) and I stand by the comments section of that post to demonstrate that I am a reasonable, open and honest person (not to mention naive for thinking I could get anywhere or achieve anything with the argument). If he really thought the comments section of that post suggested otherwise perhaps he should link to it and let his readers make up their own minds.


*Furthermore, Hitchens’ argued that the meaning of ‘most’ is massively different from ‘many’ and therefore I was massively and dishonestly distorting what he originally said. However, given that laws require a majority to get through the House of Commons it follows that Peter’s worry would only be real if a significant majority of politicians were ‘unrepentant illegal drug-takers’ to push such votes through. This suggests that ‘most’ is an appropriate word to use – and remember, he doesn’t just say ‘many’ but ‘so many’.

And let’s face it, here is a man who is happy to stand by his ludicrous (no evidence provided) statement that: ‘So many of our leaders now are unrepentant illegal drug-takers themselves that they shouldn’t be trusted near the making of laws.’ But change ‘many’ to ‘most’, and he feels the need to defend himself in case he is being made to look silly.

I have finally made it onto the Mail website (sort of)

So, Peter Hitchens responded to my recent 5-minute post on his claims about passive smoking – that he essentially wasn’t convinced by the ‘stories’ about the dangers and thought that the evidence was ‘very thin’. Anyway, you can read that conversation here, but interestingly enough Peter has now decided to blog about the subject – in which he again accuses me of being a ‘scornful but anonymous person’ even though my name was revealed in the comment section of this blog shortly after Peter’s first comment. Obviously he misses simple details even if they are given to him, hardly a good start for his blog post that is supposed to demonstrate that he can provide evidence to support his assertions.

Amusingly, despite being given numerous links to various studies demonstrating a link between passive smoking and health issues, he is still clinging to one particular controversial study (Enstrom and Kabat – said to have been ‘funded and managed by the Center for Indoor Air Research, a tobacco industry front group tasked with “offsetting” damaging studies on passive smoking’) as well as introducing collection of newspaper articles on the subject (as if journalists are the ones to turn to for accurate scientific reporting). None of which can discredit the meta-analysis (confirmed on several separate occasions) that shows that secondary smoke has a statistically significant impact on health.

Now, I’m not a paid writer and I don’t have the time or patience to take the matter any further, but if anyone does have a good knowledge of the subject then feel free to read Peter’s blog post and post your thoughts in the comments here.

How to lose an argument, by Peter Hitchens

Yesterday Peter Hitchens confessed that he was ‘wrong on cigarettes but believe me, I’m right on cannabis’ before then demonstrating that when it comes to the dangers of passive smoking he is utterly clueless. Hitchens’ claims that:

No, I never believed the stories about second-hand smoke, and still don’t.

Cigarettes stink and spoil the atmosphere, and anyone who smokes them near others who are eating is inconsiderate and rude. But I think the evidence that they give cancer to anyone apart from the people actually smoking them is very thin indeed.

When even a cursory glance at Wikipedia provides so much evidence (and provides so many references to reputable sources) that I am not even going to attempt to condense it here, you know that there really is no point in trusting Hitchens’ views about Cannabis. It’s almost amusing how Hitchens will cling to the flimsiest anecdotal evidence when it suits his agenda, but will dismiss masses of empirical evidence as ‘very thin’ when it suits him.

The ‘Thought Police’

A lot has been written about the sacking of Andy Gray and the forced resignation of Richard Keys, with some papers printing articles suggesting that men are the real victims of sexism, punished for being the perpetrators of it whilst no-one has sacked the Loose Women team. You can read an excellent blog post here on why that is not an argument, but this post is going to try and unravel the latest Peter Hitchen column which as usual takes a rather unique view of the situation.

The headline pretty much sums up his argument: ‘Think it was right to sack Andy Gray? See how you feel when the Thought Police come for you’. Peter is adamant that ‘Mr Gray and Mr Keys should not have been sacked, or disciplined in any way’. His reasoning is that:

The things they said were not intended for broadcast and they were not transmitted. They were private conversations. I don’t care that those conversations were leaked. Any remotely public figure has to assume this will happen nowadays. But if Mr Gray and Mr Keys didn’t intend their remarks to be broadcast, they shouldn’t be judged professionally as if they had intended it.

It is quite simply unjust to condemn a man for having his private conversation transmitted to the world by someone else.

In your own time, amongst your own friends you can say what you like. If you hate blacks / gays / whites / women / Coronation Street / the Daily Mail / the Guardian or whatever you will normally end up with a group of friends who share the same values as you do. Conversation amongst your social can cover whatever topics you want because you know they will not be offended because you know they think / feel the same way. The world might not like racists, but it makes no attempt to ban their thoughts, stop their congregation or conversations and it allows them to form groups such as the BNP or EDL. There is no such thing as the thought police, and no barriers to private conversation – or indeed public expression, just visit Youtube, message boards, blogs and comment threads for evidence. If you want to publicly be a misogynist, you can be and you will not be alone.

However, sometimes in life you will be forced into situations in which you must sacrifice your personal opinions. Every single person who has a job must for the hours they are in work comply with the ethos of that company and the company must conform to set standards of behaviour – yes, specifically with regards to equality (be it race, religion, sex or sexuality etc). This is not about having a ‘thought police’ or preventing said employee from holding private conversations with friends about how they would love to ‘hang out the back of that bird from HR’ or ‘smash that bitch from the call centre’ or whatever the hell they want to say amongst friends. No, it is simply the acknowledgment that when in work you are not amongst your friends. Instead you will be forced to work with people who may not share your values, who have no desire to be your friend or even like you. Likewise, you might not like them or share their values and you would never consider being friendly with them outside work. That is their right and that is your right.

This is why a company must have policies in place to let every employee know what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour in the work place – after all, you are being paid to perform a role and to represent a company, as soon as you accept a contract of employment you give up your right to be yourself to some extent for the period of time when you are in work. When you are in work you change your behaviour because the people around you are likely to be far more diverse in thoughts / feelings / beliefs than your social group. Every individual reserves the right to choose their friends, media (newspapers, TV news, entertainment, websites etc) to suit their own tastes. All an employer asks in return is that when in work people just switch off their strong views and instead just treat everyone with a neutral respect. If you wouldn’t choose to go drinking with a misogynist, why should you be forced to listen to one whilst you are in work? If you don’t choose to read the Guardian in your spare time, why should you be forced to be constantly heckled by a Guardian reader in work?

It is called ‘being professional’. Andy Gray and Richard Keys can meet up whenever they want outside of work and privately discuss who they’d love to smash, or what jobs women are not suited to and so on. However, when they are in work they cannot, it is that simple. In reality, when you are a public figure, paid handsomely to be the front-men for Sky Sports you do give up some rights to even do this, as your job involves you having a public profile I’m sure Sky would want them to represent the corporation positively outside of work. Much-maligned public sector workers have to conduct themselves responsibly in their private lives for this reason.

If you are in work it is just common sense to restrain from making racist comments, or grinning at a female member of staff picking something off the floor before greeting her with the line ‘while you’re down their love’. It is not acceptable behaviour, it is that simple. It is obvious that the kind of comments made by Gray and Keys are repeated all across the country because a lot of men are still in the grip of a deep-rooted misogyny, but no-one is interested in stopping these conversations taking place. There is no thought police. All that this story represents is that this behaviour is totally unacceptable in a professional environment, which should be apparent should anyone spend a few minutes reading their contract of employment. You wouldn’t turn up to work in Bermuda shorts swigging lager, so why should you reserve the right to turn up to work and be racist, sexist or whatever else.

Peter Hitchens – as always – is just utterly wrong. The fact that the recordings were never meant to be broadcast is completely irrelevant because they were still in work, they should have been acting professionally at all times – colleagues could be just as offended as the potential viewers. It is that simple. We would have no sympathy had they been drinking on the job, or if they had been berating an assistant referee for being black and therefore incapable of grasping the civilised rules of football. All most people want is the freedom to go to work and not face verbal mocking for their sex, sexuality, race, religion and so on. To me, this really doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, but sadly – thanks to the twisted arguments of the right-wing media – equality has become just as evil a word as liberalism.

Ban this sick filth

Peter Hitchens is nuts. Not eccentric, provocative or playing the devil’s advocate, just plain bonkers. He’s always been a bit mad, but every now and again he would write something half-decent, as if a tiny piece of sanity was fighting back from the depths of a complete mental breakdown. Not any more, now it is column-after-column of increasingly ludicrous ramblings – each of them more self-assured than the last. We had a treatise on why single mothers should receive no benefits whatsoever, although ‘Existing victims of one of the stupidest policies in human history should continue to get their handouts and subsidised homes until their children are grown’. You can read more about that column from the excellent No sleep ’til Brooklands.

Then he moved onto the terrible state of higher education where he claimed that entering further education was a ‘corrupting, demoralising experience’ enjoyed by ‘parasites’  who sit courses ‘crammed with anti-Christian, anti-Western, anti-traditional material’. You can read more about that here. Today he moves back to the welfare state and argues that no cuts have actually taken place because by 2014-15 we’ll be spending more than we are currently. ‘What cuts?’ is the opening question he asks, before moving on to attack housing benefit as ‘probably the single most fraud­ulent and wasteful state handout ever invented.’ Peter Hitchens is so utterly faeces-up-the-wall mad that he then starts getting to the root of our problems by arguing that Britain is run by a ‘more-or-less communist state machine’.

Councils employ lots of people in fake jobs with huge salaries whilst new hospitals ‘can be hosting MRSA within months of opening’, largely, suspects Peter, because:

Its nurses – now armed with costly and useless so-called degrees, but often lacking the dutiful discipline of their forebears – can still leave the old to die of dehydration or to fester in their own filth.

He ends with a wonderfully uplifting vision of the future:

This cannot continue for ever. My own guess is that it will be swept away some time soon by a wave of terrible inflation, which will destroy the provident and the prudent as well as the parasites, and which finally will reduce this country to the Third World status it seems so anxious to attain.

He does find time to mention a few other of his favourite things, he has another short piece on the untold misery of millions of children who are victims of a one-parent family and he returns to a favourite idea of his:

Yet more reason for a full, deep inquiry into so-called ‘anti-depressants’. How many suicides have been prescribed these ill-researched and unpredictable pills, also possibly linked with rampage killings? Both Yvonne Brown and her son Ben, who threw themselves to dreadful deaths from the Humber Bridge within weeks of each other, had been prescribed with ‘anti-depressants’.

Firstly, anyone even without any scientific understanding of the impact of anti-depressant drugs could make a few arguments as to why people on anti-depressants commit suicide. For instance, the argument could be made that anyone taking such drugs is depressed and may already be contemplating suicide, the drugs can therefore be seen as a result of their depression and suicidal thoughts rather than a cause of them. Secondly, when you look at the scientific evidence a key study has:

found an overall trend for any antidepressant treatment to reduce the risk of suicidality in people aged 25 years or above.

In the under 25s, however, there was a non-significant increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviour (preparatory actions for suicide or attempted or completed suicide) with antidepressant treatment. When limited to suicidal behaviour alone this increased risk became significant.

So, in specific circumstances there is cause for concern and further investigation. However, Hitchens general link has no evidence, and as for his suggestion that anti-depressants have been ‘possibly linked with rampage killings’, well yes, they have, by various media outlets as a quick Google search shows, but I have yet to see any scientific arguments for this. I can’t help but feel that the terrible state of tabloid journalism is never going to improve whilst people like Peter Hitchens are given a paid platform. If only we could start some kind of campaign to ban this sick filth without sounding like the Daily Mail…

Money for nothing

Peter Hitchens is somehow paid for being a hateful little man. If one writer really embodies the backward, bigoted bitterness that is the Daily Mail then it is him. Staggeringly misogynistic, sneeringly homophobic and unflinchingly elitist his latest column argues that university is a place where people become ‘parasites’ and learn nothing whilst wasting taxpayers money. Peter is bitter because he ‘went to one and spent the whole time being a Trotsky­ist troublemaker at the taxpayers’ expense’, so he therefore projects his own inadequacies on every other graduate / undergraduate in the UK:

We seem to accept without question that it is a good thing that the young should go through this dubious experience. Worse, employers seem to have fallen completely for the idea that a university degree is essential – when it is often a handicap.

For many people, college is a corrupting, demoralising experience. They imagine they are independent when they are in fact parasites, living off their parents or off others and these days often doomed to return home with a sense of grievance and no job.

And it gets worse, because students get up to all sorts of puerile things like SEX and drinking alcohol, which non-graduates avoid presumably:

And they pass through the nasty, sordid rite of passage known as ‘Freshers’ Week’, in which they are encouraged to drink dangerous amounts of alcohol and to lose what’s left of their sexual inhibitions after the creepy sex educators have got at them at school.

‘Creepy sex educators’ in school? Why are so many Daily Mail writers utterly obsessed with sex and children? What is creepier, a Mail article about a ‘sexualised’ 10-year-old (complete with lots of photos) along with a discussion about why she is wearing a bra, or children receiving education about relationships in schools? He carries on:

And if they are being taught an arts subject, they will find that their courses are crammed with anti-Christian, anti-Western, anti-traditional material. Proper literature
is despised and ‘deconstructed’.

Our enviable national history is likewise questioned, though nothing good is put in its place. Even if they are study­ing something serious, their whole lives will be dominated by assumptions of political correctness, down to notices in the bars warning against ‘homophobia’ and other thought crimes.

Somehow Peter Hitchens claims to know what is taught in every single arts subject the length and breadth of the UK. Even though he went to one university. 30 years ago. Imagine the horrors of drinking in a university bar that doesn’t even condone homophobia – note the inverted commas around homophobia as if it isn’t real and this sentence isn’t an example of it.

So does Hitchens want all universities shut? No, he just wants them to return to the good old days:

time has come to close most of our universities and shrink the rest so they do what they are supposed to do – educating an elite in the best that has ever been written, thought and said, and undertaking real hard scientific research.

At least he is honest: he hates liberals, gays, women and the poor and just wants merry old England to return to the age of landed gentry and serfs. I know people will want to point out that Peter is merely being paid to be provocative, but I’d urge you to look at his output (and the arguments he sometimes gets into with commenters on his blog) and you will see that he really believes what he writes.