Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Natural Addiction and other circular arguments.

The endless ineptness and brutal irrelevance that the left-wing, newly enhanced self-appointed experts on all things human, never ceases to amaze me. They produce endless variables to account for stupid and moronic behaviour in order to justify base stupidity or hopelessness. The irrelevant and anarchist behaviour of the "Occupy Everything" movement is a fine example of their obvious ignorance and base stupidity. It demonstrated the new mindlock of their generation where everything should be handed to them on a platter and accountability for their actions is to be removed as being some new method of Imperialism or state police control.
This is the level of intelligence those universities are promoting and producing, where the "I want it all and I want it NOW" mantra is their main guideline and the "Give me everything" is not seen as being unreasonable but a claim that they deserve it all without consent or question. It is the way it is.

One wonders if anyone ever comes to grips with their blatant ignorance or the ever more ignorance they demonstrate. One would live in the hope that one day, as they get older, assuming they don't do anything obviously overly stupid, they may actually wake up to the fact that their behaviour can only be found in three year old children and their justification is straight out of a "Confessions of a mass murderer" novel, where everything can be explained away because the appropriate "feelings" can be counted on for justification. Actually a three year old would probably demonstrate to being brighter and smarter.

Peter Hitchens comes across another one of these clones who actually believes in an assumed enhancement, she terms "Natural Addiction", this way this lunatic justifies heroine addicts as being victims and their responsibility is pushed aside as they are determined to be the victim. Not because of their own stupidity, as everyone is well aware of the fact that heroine addiction is a killer waiting to finish it's work. Nope, the poor individual is a victim because that idiot is an addict. I know, circular arguments is their favourite way of expressing their ineptitude and their unwillingness to think anything through is non-existent, just going on "feelings" is sufficient. These type of people are actually capable of breathing, that is only because it's automated.

Victoria’s Secret

…is that she’s confused about what addiction means, and so cannot say anything sensible about it. The Victoria I’m referring to is Ms Victoria Coren, yet another metropolitan clever-dick who has found his or her way on to the comment circuit long before he or she has had time to become gnarled, world-weary etc. Photographs show her as anything but gnarled, despite the fact that she is, I’m told, a distinguished poker player, and consorts with alternative comedians, both of which would certainly gnarl me.

And I would have ignored her indefinitely had she not decided to lecture me, from a very elevated position indeed, on the subject of ‘addiction’. She did this here http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/19/victoria-coren-addiction-dont-be-kind-be-fair?newsfeed=true

in ‘The Observer’ an unpopular Sunday newspaper. But I shall now help her to become a bit more gnarled and world-weary.

It is an odd lecture. If I have properly understood her, she begins by comparing me to the Wolf in ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, thus : ‘On Newsnight, Russell Brand and Peter Hitchens had a pointless row about compassion. They were like Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf (one lustrous-haired and touchingly naive; the other snarling, clawing and evidently harbouring eager thoughts of the severed finger he'd popped in his pocket to eat later).’

Eh? Sometimes you just have to accept that other people’s thought processes are different from your own. I assume I’m not touchingly na├»ve (thank heaven for that, even if it also means my hair is not lustrous, which indeed it is not). Snarling and clawing? Well, if you didn’t like me, because I have bad opinions and must therefore be a bad person, you might choose to describe reasonable self-defence in these terms. But putting a severed finger in my pocket to eat later? What? Where did that come from?

AS for being ‘pointless’. No serious person can dismiss as ‘pointless’ a public argument about principles which makes others think.

Anyway, it then gets (slightly ) more coherent and to the point. As in : ‘But compassion is irrelevant to the categorising of addiction. Accepting it's an illness doesn't mean you have to care.’

**Oddly enough, I should have thought it did mean exactly that. If someone has fallen ill through no fault of his own, you are rather obliged to care, be sympathetic, be concerned in healing him. That’s why the difference is important. If this person has deliberately, having ignored a thousand warnings, inflicted the wound on himself, you must of course still care about his grief and his wound, but in a significantly different way. This raises another simple point; that those who would use fear of punishment to deter people from self-destruction don’t necessarily lack compassion. They just don’t mix it up with soft-headedness.

Ms Coren is apparently giving up smoking tobacco. Good luck to her, I hope very much she succeeds, as I know in some detail what will probably happen to her if she doesn’t. Many people do give up , though it is obviously extremely hard. The difficulty arises not least because cigarettes are legal, openly on sale in many shops. They are also socially acceptable in many places (such as poker games, and for all I know among alternative comedians). Perhaps that is why, as Theodore Dalrymple says, from his observations of heroin abusers while working as a prison doctor, that it is harder to give up smoking , by some way, than it is to give up heroin.

The remorseless logic, or remorseless something-or-other, continues as follows : ‘They say heroin feels good to begin with. Smoking doesn't. But, if you're a natural addict, you press on.’

**Here we go. Into the argument this curious assertion hops, unexplained, simply stated as if an uncontested fact. ‘If you’re a natural addict, you press on’. How many huge questions does this raise? Who is, and who is not ‘ a natural addict’? How does one test objectively for the presence of this condition in the human body? Do ‘natural addicts’ still fall victim to their ‘natural addictions’ in societies that Ms Coren would no doubt regard as ‘repressive’, that is, ones in which people are taught from their earliest youth to control their urges, to delay gratification and to mistrust pleasure that has not been earned? Would the hundreds of thousands of alleged heroin ‘addicts’ in modern Britain have become ‘addicts’ had we maintained the culture, laws and morals that we had before about 1960?

If these are significant variables, can the phrase ‘natural addict’ have any validity? Human weakness is universal and lies in all of us. Mine is particularly unexciting. I eat too much (not usually fingers, though) . I could stop if I really wanted to. Sometimes I do. I keep it under reasonable control most of the time. But I don’t care enough to get it fully under control. My guess is that it will kill me only very slowly and not too unpleasantly. It’s also unlikely to make me a burden on other people. But the fault is in me, in that I could try harder if I really wanted to. I can’t blame anyone else. I would despise myself if I did.

As for smoking, I think many people start doing it not because of how it feels, but because of how they think it makes them look. The ancient problem of what to do with your hands (and face) in an awkward social situation is solved. The advertisements - when they had them - played quite cleverly on that, getting non-smokers to envy the cool, socially adept, sophisticated person they would become once they began sporting that particular smart packet (don’t believe that isn’t important, especially to women), and lighting that particular brand with a practised flourish. It might make you cough and vomit to start with, but passing through that stage was a necessary step to becoming the new cool you.

Now that it’s socially less acceptable, and often banned in resorts of pleasure, and now that everyone knows how dangerous it is, aren’t quite a lot of ‘natural addicts’ either giving it up or never starting? In which case, how natural were they? The phrase doesn’t really help at all. It’s certainly not the objectively scientific term Ms Coren seems to think it is (because it suits her to think so). As for Heroin users, *nobody*, but *nobody* is ignorant of the risks of this drug, and I believe it takes several goes to reach the stage where you imagine you can’t live without it. So could it be that you just press on because you’re a naturally selfish, thoughtless, inconsiderate little toad who places his own pleasure above all other considerations (as most of us are, when the mood takes us)? How much nicer, though, to be called a ‘natural addict’ . It takes away the crucial aspect, that you might yourself have been involved in choosing whether or not to poke a sharp ( and quite possibly dirty) piece of metal into your body and using it to pump an illegal poison into your bloodstream - which you already knew was a stupid thing to do.

Ms Coren continues :’Once you're hooked, it still doesn't feel good, but (and here's where we fall in with our junkie cousins) it now makes you feel normal. QED: if you have to take something to feel normal, it doesn't matter if it's a fag or a needle or a Nurofen, you're not well.’

**Once again, this is an assertion, and a self-serving one as well. Ms Coren was born, I think , in 1973. Long before she could talk or read, it was established beyond all doubt that smoking was terribly dangerous to your health, and particularly to the health of women. Why, even in my Jurassic childhood I can remember a pair of huge scary billboards outside Portsmouth Town Hall (circa 1962) with the legend ‘Ashes….to Ashes’. The first showed an ashtray with a lit cigarette. The second portrayed a large urn of human ashes marked ‘RIP’ .

She *must* have known what she was doing. I have never quite been able to get out of my mind this fact about many members of my generation. I think the problem with them (the smell of smoke has always repelled me, and my sense of smell has always been very strong. My attempts to start were foredoomed) was that the coolness, the sexual signal (the smoker is surely more worldly, more humorous, more available than the non-smoker, as Hollywood has for years been at pains to suggest) , the ability to satisfy the craving for something to taste without the risk of getting fat, the membership of a club of sophisticates, simply overrode all the warnings, of a peril which seemed so distant anyway. What if we might one day die? We all have to die of something. Ho ho. Well, I know a bit more than I did then about what cancer does to the human frame towards the end, and it’s my view that we might make a bit more of this in propaganda. It’s quite important, it turns out, which something you die of, not least because dying can take quite a while these days.

But of course the advertisements and the general social acceptance made each decision to give up an individual, solitary, slightly priggish one, and each decision to continue a collective, socially acceptable, even cool one. I think that has begun to change among educated, professional people, partly thanks to office smoking bans, partly thanks to advertising bans and pub and restuarant bans, partly because that selfish generation have children of their own and a) want to see them grow and b) don’t want to give them a dreadful example. In a small but limited way ( necessary because it's very hard to ban something in wide use which has always been legal) the threat of the law has helped to reduce this scourge. In the case of heroin and cannabis, already illegal, we have a much wider scope for preventive, deterrent action.

Ms Coren declares : ‘Unlike Nurofen, the addict's substance is both treating and creating the agony.’

**Agony? Isn’t that putting it a bit high?

Ms Coren again’ So every smoker/junkie, however desperate (** ‘desperate’. This overused word needs to be examined every time it’s employed. It has suffered severe inflation. In this case, doesn’t it actually mean , at most ‘ desirous’ . In which case, can’t the person involved control the desire? Of course he can. But he doesn’t want to) ‘…to keep going, wishes he had never started. If you saw someone repeatedly smashing his arm against a wall, 40 times a day, unable to stop, would you say he was a self-indulgent hedonist? Or would you just know he was ill?

**My reply. It’s all very well saying you wish you had never started. But why? Where is the surprise trick ending? What didn’t they tell you? If you really wished that, you actually wouldn’t have started. You wanted to start. You did so knowing this would happen. You wanted to. You didn’t care. Likewise, if you really wished to stop, you would stop. The true desire to stop is the heart of all abstinence programmes, as everyone knows. If someone got pleasure or other advantage from the sort of self-harm described, then yes, hedonism could explain it.

Then I get :’ Fear not, Peter Hitchens; that doesn't make you Pollyanna.’

**No, indeed. No danger of that .It’s Ms Coren I’m calling Pollyanna, and Mr Brand too.

Ms Coren : ‘You can still hate and blame the patient.’

**Who said I hate these people? I’m rather famously (the religion is famous, not me) not allowed to hate people by my religion, a religion Ms Coren may know little about and might well, given her generation and milieu, despise. I don’t presume to know (as she presumes to know so much of my mind) , so I am happy to be corrected if I am mistaken. I can loathe actions, but never the people that do them. As for the use of the word ‘patient’, once more an assertion not backed by evidence, this simply assumes a conclusion which is not proved or agreed. How could I blame a patient? But I can blame a wilful criminal, and I do.

Ms Coren ‘No need to feel compassion’. **On the contrary. But compassion is not the same as indulgence of wrong actions. It may actually require a serious attempt to deter or punish those wrong actions.

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