UK
22/12/2013 10:59 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 06:38 GMT

Peter Hitchens Tells Matthew Perry: Believing In Addiction Is Like Believing In Tinkerbell

Peter Hitchens has hit back against those who criticised his "addiction myth" exchange with Friends actor Matthew Perry on Newsnight.

He wrote in his Mail on Sunday column he had seen nothing that could beat the "sense of pure entitlement that radiated from Mr Perry".

"How he has suffered, we are supposed to think. How good it is of him to now embrace a supposedly noble cause, that of special courts for people who buy and use illegal drugs.

matthew perry newsnight

'Well, Santa...'

"But what does it actually mean? It means that, lapped in money and fame, and greatly loved for speaking lines written for him by others, he took prescription opioid pills and swallowed vodka by the bottle until he became so ill he had to stop."

Perry's first misdemeanour on the show, Hitchens suggested, was getting the biggest dressing room.

"He and his entourage were given a hospitality room all to themselves at the BBC on Monday while I and all the other Newsnight guests were tactfully steered elsewhere," he wrote.

He called Perry's campaign "a very bad example to all those poor people who confuse actors with the parts they play, and are influenced by them, as millions were by Friends".

Perry's drug and alcohol addicton was not something that was "deserving of sympathy, let alone admiration," Hitchens wrote.

Hitchens said he had been prepared to discuss drug courts, which Perry had come to the UK to promote as a method of dealing better with non-violent crimes committed by addicts. But when Hitchens described addiction as a "fantasy", Perry "decided he’d rather have a fight".

Perry had retorted on the show: "You are making a point that is as ludicrous as saying Peter Pan is real."

In his column, Hitchens replied saying that "‘Addiction’ is no more real than Tinkerbell, and, like her, would fade and die if people stopped believing in it.

"And the word ‘addiction’ has slipped into common speech so that we hardly ever consider it. People are said to be ‘addicted to’ anything from sex to chocolate cake. What does the tricky word mean?

"If it means that they have no power to stop themselves, then how is it that so many ‘addicts’ manage to give up the thing they’re supposedly enslaved to? And if it doesn’t mean that they have no power to stop themselves, then it looks remarkably like an excuse.

"Once an idea becomes conventional wisdom, it is quite risky to challenge it. My view that addiction is fiction is actually shocking to many who have never heard this possibility discussed. Rather than examine my case, they react like so many startled squirrels, screeching and running about in circles."

He also took aim at the "electronic Left-wing mob that is Twitter is full of personal insults, rage, and threats of violence aimed at me, and at least one shamelessly totalitarian suggestion that I should be put in a ‘re-education clinic’."

He added that drug campaigners had contacted him to say Perry's claim that addiction is "an obsession of the mind and an allergy of the body" was incorrect.