Well, apparently the discussion has been continuing and now Peter answers his critics in Resting My Case. It’s a doozy.
I believe myself to be descended from some of the Puritans who were Cromwellâ€™s Ironsides, and Iâ€™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 Iâ€™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 donâ€™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.
How sad that the only thing about modern Britain that makes the cannabis lobby angry is the continued existence a few individuals like me, who wish to deny them their dope.
And yes, he has a plan to “deny them their dope.”
Most cannabis users donâ€™t find it such a marvellous experience that theyâ€™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 â€˜cautionâ€™, 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.
Of course, in addition to being dead wrong about pretty much everything he says, he has no power. He’s become anachronistic, somewhat amusing, and, really, sad.
Some good comments in response, including this one from “Responsible Choice,” although there are also some Peter Hitchens supporters, of course.
Although I am essentially pro-cannabis, specifically in terms of harm minimisation when compared to alcohol, I would NEVER, EVER think for a second that I have the right to deny or dictate what another human should or should not put in their bodies. As far as I’m concerned it is a fundamental human right. This is not to say that I am blind to the fact that many things people put into their bodies have repercussions for them individually and those around them, rather I see this area as being one that belongs strictly within the jurisdiction of health professionals.
Even suggesting that six months hard labour is an appropriate consequence, completely punitive at that, highlights the fact that your concern lies solely in proving that what you think is right is in fact right, and that in your mind a belligerent and aggressive law enforcement approach can forcibly stamp out what you consider to be wrong. Fortunately what others choose to do with their own bodies has absolutely nothing to do with what you think they should be doing, or not doing in this case. However it still remains concerning that your professed method of dealing with people who use a substance that has been classified illicit, whilst a legal equivalent reaps a death toll of around 5% of the world’s population each year, is extreme incarceration. It reveals a distinct lack of empathy, compassion and understanding of the nature of substance use throughout history, and in the present day.
Your views, whilst you are free to express and hold them, as they rightly should be, are cruel, simplistic and violent in my view. Prohibition has failed miserably, your novel spin on an archaic, although admittedly puritanical law, is nothing but that, a rehash of views from the past, that have been thoroughly proven to be flawed, and extremely damaging to all societies of the world. Do I think my fellow man should be punished for seeking release and/or pleasure from substance use? NO, I don’t. Do I believe people should toughen up and follow a stricter doctrine of pure living based on historical religious ideals? Who cares if I do, it’s beside the point, and has little bearing on the way people will freely choose to live their lives, and it should not be any other way.
The comparison of cannabis with Thalidomide was the only memorable part of your whole article, and only because of the extreme ignorance it portrays. That is the only thing I will take away of any value from what you have stated above, in the sense that it grants me a glimpse inside of the world of a closed minded and misinformed individual. My thanks for that.
It’s baffling to read someone like Peter Hitchens. He’s an anomaly – a true believer who is fully convinced his opponents have been addled in the head, thereby allowing him to dismiss criticisms quite easily.
He’s convinced (likely through a “moral” argument) that all marijuana users are automatically damaged (as opposed to casual alcohol users), that their damage ends up making them less productive to society, so that society is therefore damaged as well by marijuana use, and that he is bound to attempt to protect civilization from that damage.
It doesn’t matter that his premises, conclusions and moral judgements are completely wrong. He’ll adjust his absorption of information to fit his worldview.
(Note: remember that Peter Hitchens and Christopher Hitchens are brothers, but have distinctly different views.)