I’ve tried writing about Peter Hitchens a number of times before but always fallen short and never hit the publish button. He’s a conflicting and conflicted individual and I always felt that dumping him in with the swathe of semi-literate spellcheckers that makes up most (most, not all, but most) of their star columnists was a bit unfair.
You see, I *almost* like Peter HItchens. Almost. He’s certainly far better than conspiracy insanist Mel Phillips, professional rumour-repeater Littlejohn, the abandoned marionette that was once Liz Jones and whatever the cackling dad-dancer that was Dominic Sandbrook has become…
(I’m just going to take a break here and post that clip of Mel Phillips’ breakdown on Question Time because, really, if ever there was an inverted Peter Finch moment then this was it – when the swirling voice of madness finally bubbled over and we saw a brief glimpse of the world she thinks is real)
I disagree with a lot of what Peter Hitchens says, and I’m very critical of how he says it, but I have to throw some respect his way because, to give him credit, he does seem to genuinely try hard. He certainly has conviction in his beliefs, and that should roundly be applauded. His view remains constant, his morals are conservative but not ridiculous, he shows his working out and he stands his corner. I kind of like that he follows no-one on Twitter (although I do think it quite sad he searches for his name and replies to nearly every tweet) and I like that he engages with his audience.
It annoys me when he receives open abuse, and I really don’t like it when people use his brother against him. I think what’s very clear is that, if nothing else, their parents raised two articulate and intelligent people and the fact they could be so opposite is actually highly commendable. I also really like Hitchens’ general view that modern politics has died a tragic and corrupted death, and I broadly agree with his critiques of the three main parties and their failings.
I also find his tone incredibly derisive and much of his social commentary to be of a singular 1950’s world view. It carries a tremendous amount of bitterness at the evolution of society and his writing displays a stubborn lack of empathy and a deliberate tunnelvision. He may be the first to admit that he appears humourless, but his arched-conservative manner does him no favours and he appears to have virtually no self awareness.
I genuinely think he’s a bad writer; his conclusions are pained and reaching, and his often defiant tone masks some pretty illogical reasoning.
(Also, the formatting of his column on the Daily Mail app reduces the subheadings to main text size so his covering of several subjects just reads like one long hobo rant without any reasoned chaptering. It’s kind of funny.)
The problem with Peter Hitchen’s is that he writes for the Daily Mail. He regards himself an intellectual and political thinker, but he sits among sideboob articles and compelling pieces about people who find alien faces in paintings. I wonder how much he feels this harms his reputation, writing for the same paper that salivates over a game show runner-up in a bikini.
In any other publication he’d carry less weight and be less prominent but at the Mail he becomes your sneering Jon Voight uncle. You think he’s kinda badass and scary, but then you learn about his home life…
Much like his publication, his prominence makes us think he’s better than he is. He’s loud, he’s determined, he speaks clearly and has a deep baritone voice – but really, there’s not much there and it’s as tailored to be as polemic as Samantha Brick’s vanity or Katie Hopkins’ tellingitlikeitisness.
I finally wrote his article because I did a Hitchens joke today and he replied as he often does.
(I suspect he and many readers thought it was a straight reference to the Germany part of his article but I was trying to merge that with the piece above about single mothers which, whilst being mostly right, was delivered in some kind of garbled communist metaphor, and then adding the standard Daily Mail Nazi obsession twist. It may not have been a great joke but, hey, it’s a living, right?)
By the way – Peter Hitchens has ‘challenged me’ by replying a couple of times, but I’ve never answered to him so quite where my claim that I’m “joking” has come from, I don’t know. I’m not interested in a debate with him or even addressing his concerns. If he read any of my previous posts he’d know that while what I write are jokes, joking is one of the last things I’m doing.
Regular readers may know that I’m often conflicted as to whether this feed serves any purpose. Am I effectively just contributing to the Mails success and isn’t it better to just ignore them and they’ll go away? Etc. This little reply from Hitchens has reminded me of why I write this feed – it’s because it annoys them. It may not have any great life-changing effect but I can now rest happy knowing that at least, in a small part, in my own small way, I briefly annoyed Peter Hitchens. That’s two after mildly bugging Liz Jones. Back of the net!
Finally, I know Peter will read this so I want to end on a personal message.
Thanks for reading. I’m impressed you made it this far. I just wanted to say that I meant all those nice things I said at the top. I respect you despite not liking you (although I will happily admit that I do not know you and that you’re probably much nicer in person) and I take great enjoyment from reading your work, and then making fun of it.
I like that you reply to me. That’s appreciated. As far as I’m concerned, though, we’re laughing at you and not with you. I think there’s a lot about your persona and writing to mock, and you contribute to a newspaper that I sincerely believe to be poisonous and detrimental to our newsmedia and society at whole.
I’m not some 14 year old boy in his parents house with his dick in one hand and an iPhone in the other – I know what I’m talking about, my reasons are valid and there’s a lot of people who agree with me. It may only be one silly and ineffective Twitter account (that’s a leftwing hate mob to you) but I’m well within my rights to make fun of you, speech marks and all, and if it’s all the same I think I’ll continue to do so.
It’s not lies. It’s satire. And you know that. If you’re unsure what satire is then I encourage you to read your colleague Dominic Sandbrook’s column from last week Buck House Sold to Qatar. It’s the exact opposite of that.
This account may not be as close to the wit and wisdom of the Algonquin Round Table or George Bernard Shaw as you’d like, but it entertains a few people and I suspect may still do more good than that wretched rag you write for. I’d like to thank you, Peter, because by responding to me you’ve managed to validate my account and renewed my interest and vigour.
I look forward to working with you