Matthews’ friend Peter Roscoe told the Observer’s Nick Cohen “He was a gentle guy. He wanted a better world. I am so sorry in recent times he became convinced that Covid was some kind of hoax”. Cohen went on to explain “Matthews’s cousin Tristan Copeland said he had begged him to wear a mask and maintain social distance. ‘But he and his friends had the mindset that they needed to go out and meet people to show they didn’t believe the government.’ Perhaps his posturing killed him”. Matthews was just 46 years old.
Hang on, there's been a Hitch
The result of those contacts? “He had a positive Covid-19 test and went home to isolate. He died, aged 46, alone in his flat in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, on 13 January”. He didn’t go to hospital, where he could have been effectively treated. Cohen added “His creepy conspiracy sites are not so far from the newspaper columns and radio shows of the London right. Not far at all”. And that is what is making some pundits uncomfortable.
Peter Jukes of Byline Media had confronted contrarian Peter Hitchens, noting “When asked when he had an ounce of remorse for the death of Gary Matthews, who died from Covid having keenly admired Mr Hitchens’ Covid sceptical tweets, [Hitchens] did the typical thing, and doubted whether he had died from Covid”. What say The Great Man?
“Some readers may not be aware here of the low technique you are using, demanding that I show remorse for an action of which you do not dare accuse me, which you cannot prove, and which you cannot show I am responsible for … This disreputable approach is just the sort of thing we might expect to find in a People's Court in some banana dictatorship. In *this* country we have spent 1,000 years developing proper justice, which is plainly not safe in the hands of fanatics such as you”. There had been no accusation.
One of the last things Matthews Retweeted before he died was from self-promoting TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley Brewer, which asserts “Most people in the UK don’t know someone who’s died from Covid … Most people in the UK probably don’t know someone who’s been very ill with the virus”. This was pointed out to her this morning.
As a result, Ms Hartley Dooda immediately assumed victim status, although not in quite the same righteous manner as Hitchens. To Jay Rayner, she frothed “This man retweeted this tweet. Could you please explain where in this tweet I express ‘Covid-diminishing’ content? I have never once downplayed the threat of Covid or encouraged anyone to break the law or not to socially distance. Your tweet is repulsive. Shame on you”.
And to Brian Moore, there was “Ooh, and another one blaming me personally for a man's sad death. A man dies. A man who has retweeted my tweet. Ergo, I am responsible for his death. These people are cynically exploiting a man's death to score points against people they despise over Brexit & lockdowns. Sick”. Two things here. Moore did not blame her for Matthews’ death. And nor does he “despise” her. Someone is protesting too much.
Indeed, Ms Hartley Dooda has shown that she is of less than perfect courage by deleting the Tweet. It therefore no longer shows up in Matthews’ Twitter feed, which is still extant. But her fellow TalkRADIO host Mark Dolan, shown cutting up a face covering, is still there. As it Hitchens being his customary contrarian self.
This one is particularly damning
And what none of these less than august individuals can bring themselves to accept is this: they did not say the pandemic did not exist, but what they did say, and the way in which they expressed their view, fitted in with the view of the world that Matthews, and those with whom he agreed, shared. It was what he wanted to hear. It was casting doubt on what the Government and its scientific experts were saying. It told him he was right.
Gary Matthews was not alone in deciding that he didn’t need to distance, wear a face covering, or be concerned enough about Covid-19 to admit himself to hospital. There are plenty more such individuals in the UK and elsewhere who inhabit a similar mindset. And that is why those who enjoy the platform that the media class has given them bear a responsibility not to mislead, encourage distrust, or present a loaded or slanted debate.
It is this that Hitchens and Ms Hartley Dooda cannot, or will not, take on board. No-one is trying to silence them or otherwise circumscribe their freedom of expression. What is being made crystal clear is that actions can, and do, have consequences. No one person radicalised Gary Matthews. No one person can have his death laid at their door. But there has clearly been a cumulative effect on someone susceptible to persuasion.
The result of that effect is that Gary Matthews is now dead. I’ll just leave that one there.
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