I know Peter Hitchens is a proll - a professional troll. His entire reason for existing is to try and say something sufficiently outrageous or unjustifiable that it gets him some attention. He has no logic to his arguments - it's just a series of random thoughts, which if they came from anyone else would be instantly ignored as the slightly twatty ramblings of an idiot. But because it's the Hitch, someone who's mysteriously regarded as being intelligent, despite all the evidence to the contrary, he is elevated to a level beyond the average pub bore - or the average crap blogger - to someone who gets a column in a national newspaper.
He's written two pieces today, and while one of them is entitled "Israel wasn't tough enough", it's not that piece of flame-bait that I want to concentrate on. However, it does give an indication as to the kind of schtick these people have - think about an issue, think about the most contrarian and least plausible position that a human being could possibly hold, then go for it and take it to the nth degree. If you were to indulge in the kind of 'psychobabble' that Hitch rips into in the piece I'm about to look at, you might say he is like an infant rubbing shit over his face to try and get attention from his parents. But that might be unkind. To shit-covered infants.
No, the piece I want to talk about is one in which he speculates, without any evidence whatsoever other than the clunkings in his tiny brain, that antidepressants were somehow to blame for Derrick Bird's horrific crimes. He writes:
Patrick Purdy, culprit of the 1989 Cleveland School massacre in Stockton, California, had been on anti-depressants. Jeff Weise, perpetrator of the March 2005 Red Lake High School massacre, was on anti-depressants.
Anti-depressants were found in the cabin of the ‘Unabomber’ Ted Kaczynski. Michael McDermott, culprit of the 2000 ‘Wakefield massacre’ in Massachusetts, was on anti-depressants.
Kip Kinkel, culprit of a 1998 murder spree in Oregon, was on anti-depressants.
John Hinckley, who tried to kill Ronald Reagan in 1981, was on anti-depressants.
It is both interesting and worrying that, with so many such unhinged and otherwise inexplicable killings perpetrated by people taking legal medication, the official world has been so slow to look into the matter.
It’s so much easier to pass a pointless, populist gun ban.
Not really, Hitch. Hey, you appear to have left out all of the examples of people carrying out mass murders without having been prescribed antidepressants. But I forgot, we're in 'only connect' territory, where whatever dumbfuck theory you come up with is legitimate, because you can just go searching for the things that confirm what you think, while discarding anything - even if it's a majority of the evidence - that doesn't fit your tedious little theory. And of course there are the other explanations, one which anyone can grasp if they bother to think about it - that the prescription of antidepressants might be because of depression, which may have been a contributory factor (if not the main factor) in the murder-suicides, and that it might not have been the antidepressants which caused the violence; rather, they may have been an attempt to deal with a depressive symptom of a much wider personality disorder.
No. Of course not. If you're Hitch, it must be the antidepressants causing the murders. I love the way he says it's 'so much easier' to pass a 'populist' gun ban; whereas in fact, it is he who is doing the 'so much easier' in all of this, while attempting to represent himself as the deep thinker. He isn't. He's just a jerk, a tedious attention-seeking little prick. I don't know if he's entirely deluded by his grandiose dream of being so much more clever than everyone else in the world; I don't know if he's just being provocative for the sake of it, and doesn't care at all whether what he says might be accurate, or truthful, or entirely misleading, or just trolling bullshit. I don't know, and to be quite honest I don't care.
Of course, this is the Daily Mail, where mental health issues are breezily dismissed with what you might call a depressing regularity. Janet Street-Porter recently lied like this:
No, it isn't. It's not the new trendy illness at all. (I'm aware, by the way, that JSP doesn't write the headlines, but that stinking article wasn't unfairly represented by the headline, which was a reasonable summary of the hateful 'never did me any harm' just-world fallacy unpleasantness below). But this is the kind of attitude that you get from the nasty prolls of the Mail. I wonder whether it might have anything to do with the kind of "every man for himself" attitude of the libertarian right, or whether these people are simpletons who are unwilling or unable to wonder that other human beings might possibly experience the universe in a different way to the way they do. If it's the latter, I pity them really, because they're emotionally still just children. If it's the former, I despise them.
There are clues as to which one it is. Hitchens comes out with some stuff that's so patently absurd that you have to wonder if he really thinks about anything at all before he starts typing:
It’s possible an old-fashioned village constable, on the spot, might have done something to halt Derrick Bird, or have realised something bad was going to happen before it did.
Why? It's not explained. Don't you go thinking that Hitchens ever actually explains the long-range salvoes he launches at his targets; they just keep getting lauched. It boils down to: "Somehow, everything is bad, because, oh the Left, and things aren't what they used to be, therefore, yes, I'm right." And that, somehow, is seen as being satisfactory. Hitchens doesn't have evidence; he just guesses. He just wonders aloud:
Was Bird taking the anti-depressant pills that are now prescribed so readily by NHS doctors to so many people whose lives – like Bird’s – have gone down the drain?
I don't know, was he? Maybe you could wait a bit before you decide that it was antidepressants that made him do what he did, if you don't even know that he was even taking them? No...? OK, just wildly speculate away. It's not as if there are several grieving families this week and it might be a tad disrespectful to them, if they themselves might be taking antidepressants - or may even be prescribed them to try and cope with the awfulness of what has happened - to say that it might make them killers, just like the man who took their loved ones away? Oh hang on, it is.
I'm quite happy to say that I am still taking antidepressants. To the best of my knowledge, I'm not about to go and start murdering people at random. It might be true to find evidence that some murderers take antidepressants, but at the same time, you will find evidence that a lot of them also drank Coca-Cola, or ate potatoes, or took aspirin, or drank beer. And a lot of others didn't. Hitchens is so woefully wide of the mark, so far from establishing a causal link, that it's embarrassing that any publication, anywhere in the world, would consider his pitiful waste of words worthy of putting on a printed page. All that ink... all that paper wasted. What a waste.
I know Hitch is a proll, and that creating any kind of response, even if it's a weary "Jesus Christ you twerp, what the fuck have you written this time, you shambolic fool?" is exactly what probably drives him. But these kinds of myths don't help anyone. It's disrespectful to the victims of this tragedy to be idly speculating about such matters, without any evidence whatsoever to back it up. Not that Hitchens cares, you understand. For him, it's business as usual. Israel wasn't tough enough. Mass murders are caused by antidepressants. There, job done.