Saturday, August 6, 2011

Statement Against Interest

When someone makes a claim in a legal battle that is clearly contrary to what benefits him, lawyers call this a "statement against interest."  It either means that the person making the stupid is really stupid, or really honest.  Peter Hitchens, someone with whom I have little in common, makes some important observations about Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer, some of which are clearly "statements against interest":
It's the drugs, stupid. In hundreds of square miles of supposed analysis of the Norway mass murder, almost nobody has noticed that the smirking Anders Breivik was taking large quantities of mind-altering chemicals.

In this case, the substances are an anabolic steroid called stanozolol, combined with an amphetamine-like drug called ephedrine, plus caffeine to make the mixture really fizz.
I found these facts in Breivik’s vast, drivelling manifesto simply because I was looking for them. The authorities and most of the media are more interested in his non-existent belief in fundamentalist Christianity.
Hitchens is a pretty fierce atheist, and an advocate for that position.  When he points out that the supposed "fundamentalist Christianity" claim for Breivik just isn't correct, he is making a statement against interest--which gives me some serious reason to believe that while Hitchens might be wrong about things, he's not playing the usual leftist dishonesty game.  AS SEVERAL COMMENTERS POINTED OUT: Christopher Hitchens is the militant atheist: Peter Hitchens (his brother) is a rather prominent Christian.

Hitchens goes on to make the argument that a lot of mass murderers have serious drug problems, including marijuana and various prescription drugs, and while I think he has missed the deinstitutionalization part of the equation, he is correct that those arguing for decriminalization of all drugs have missed the harsh fact that a lot of people do really stupid or evil things when eighteen sheets to the wind.

All these poisons have their defenders, who will, I know, respond to the facts above with a typhoon of rage and spittle. This is because they all have their selfish or commercial reasons for preventing a proper inquiry into their effects – which is all I am calling for here. Shame on them. They are disgusting.

The rest of us must consider more wisely. The human brain is a delicate and mysterious organ, of which we know amazingly little.
 Hitchens, more recently, quotes Labour Party MP Paul Flynn:
About 80% of mass killers were on drugs - usually anti-depressants or anabolic steroids.

'The blame for most of these terrible tragedies is sought on the availability of fire arms. The failure to observe out-of-character aggression by drug-users is disregarded.


  1. Good one. I had to steal it, With a hat tip of course

  2. You're confusing Christopher Hitchens, who is indeed an atheist and somewhat vehement about it, with his brother Peter, who wrote the columns you cited and is in fact a Christian.

  3. Peter's brother Christopher is the atheist. Peter himself (according to Wikipedia) is a "former atheist" and a "confirmed and communicant member of the Church of England and an advocate of moral virtues founded on religious (particularly Christian) faith."

  4. Those mass killers that were taking anti-depressant or anti-psychotic drugs were already crazy.

    As for anabolic steroids, my understanding is that the reports of "roid rage" have been seriously exaggerated.

    Very few steroid users go mad.

    Ephedrine is mild enough to be sold as a cold remedy. Caffeine, well...

    It's possible that the mixture of steroids, ephedrine, and caffeine could generate serious psychological disturbance, but one would really have to load up for that, and anyone who does is probably not all that rational to begin with.

    And I'm pretty sure that even at high doses, there wouldn't be much euphoric effect.

    On the other hand, many psychotropic "recreational drugs" intentionally derange the user in small doses. E.g. cocaine, PCP, amphetamines, and hallucinogens. Marijuana is a known contributor to schizophrenia.

    I don't suppose Breivik's drug-taking did his mind much good, but I think it is disingenuous to suggest it as the major root of his actions.