Yesterday I looked at the Mail’s typically selective reporting on the case of GP Hans-Christian Raabe, an exercise that followed the method described by Nick Davies in Flat Earth News, in which the hack generating the copy selects the desired facts – which support the conclusion that has already been drawn – while discarding those which are inconvenient to the paper’s line.
And, on the subject of the “War on Drugs”, I predicted that there would be a pundit assault in pursuit of that article, which had concluded that to oppose Richard Branson – who has called for decriminalisation and for drugs policy to be moved to the Department of Health – was a moral stance and a Christian one. Today, Peter Hitchens has stepped up to the plate to begin that assault.
Hitch starts his attack with a strawman diversion as he blusters “Heroin in the supermarket, why ever not?” and then sneers “is [Branson] afraid it will damage his funky brand?” before launching a tirade of abuse. Branson is an “absurd, overrated person who ... knows almost nothing about anything”. He “unerringly supported” the “stupid side on any major question”, and was “gormless”.
Moreover, Hitch is clearly miffed that he was not invited before the same Commons committee as Branson to talk about drugs policy “as I do actually understand it”. Modesty and condescension in lock step there. But then he comes to the “War on Drugs” and by the happiest coincidence takes exactly the same line as Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips.
And that line is that there isn’t really any war: the authorities have gone soft, and to prove this, Hitch embellishes the story of Pete Doherty to tell that the singer appeared at court “with his pockets actually full of heroin” yet “walk[ed] out again a free man” (he had 13 wraps of it and was hit with a £750 fine plus costs). So Hitch is in favour of the Mad Mel school of authoritarianism, then.
Which is another happy coincidence, as this is the clear inference to be taken from the rantings of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, whose editorial line is always to support more jailing of those convicted of drugs offences, longer sentences and less of that namby-pamby parole and probation stuff, while playing the other side of the field and whingeing about public spending.
But somehow, legal drugs are fine for Hitch, and do not merit a mention. Indeed, Mail Online is currently running sleb goss copy about “partying at Mahiki”, Paris Hilton “clubbing in Las Vegas”, more slebs who “hit Club 55 in Mayfair”, and a “girly night out” where “the alcohol is about to flow”. So the same old Mail, then. Keep the status quo, bang more druggies up, keep the readers frightened, demonise anyone who says otherwise. It’s not good enough – and there’ll be more later in the week.