Matthew Perry the Latest Celebrity To Clash With Peter Hitchens Over Drugs


Credit: David Shankbone/wikimedia

Last night, I attended most of an event in London hosted by the think tank Policy Exchange, which featured the actor Matthew Perry, Chief Executive of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) West Huddleston, and NADCP Board Member Earl Hightower. The trio were in London to discuss drug courts with British policy makers. 

Perry, Hightower, and Huddleston highlighted what they see as the benefits of drugs courts, saying that they are better for addicts and save money over time.

Drug courts are not anything new to regular Reason readers. In this year's July issue of Reason Mike Riggs wrote on drug courts and whether they undermine efforts to legalize marijuana in the U.S. In that article Riggs pointed out that the NADCP had co-signed a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him "to forcibly prevent Colorado and Washington from implementing their voter-approved marijuana legalization measures."

During the Q&A session of the Policy Exchange event Huddleston said that he was opposed to the legalization of drugs.

Later that evening, Matthew Perry appeared on the BBC's Newsnight show to discuss drug courts with Baroness Meacher, the chair of the Drug Policy Reform All-Party Group, and the journalist and drug warrior Peter Hitchens (brother of Christopher Hitchens), the author of The War We Never Fought.

What followed was a passionate exchange which included Hitchens again calling into question the existence of addiction. One highlight in particular is Perry saying that Hitchens' claim that addiction is not real is "as ludicrous as saying that Peter Pan was real." Hitchens also claimed that medical professionals are wrong to consider addiction a disease.

The editor of Newsnight tweeted that a producer had been sent to make sure Perry and Hitchens left the studio through different exits after the filming of the segment.

Watch below:

Perry is not the first celebrity to have clashed with Hitchens over drug policy on Newsnight. The comedian and actor Russell Brand appeared on the show with Hitchens last year to discuss addiction. 

Watch below:

More from Reason.com on drug policy here

NEXT: Cathy Young: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Who cares what 'celebrities' do? There's good reason actors used to be regarded as being on the same social stratum as prostitutes, because they provided even less of a service in substantive form. I don't care what the opinion is, 'celebrity' is no reason to give them a platform for opinions any greater than the average street preacher. Heck, street preachers are often more entertaining in their madness.

    1. Uh, that reason may also have been that actors and prostitutes were actually the same people, sometimes.

      1. I'm pretty sure that they still are.

    2. The commonality between prostitutes and actors is that they lie for a living.

      Otherwise, I agree.

      1. Hey, don't forget the politicians

        1. Politicians have to look up to see the status of prostitutes.

    3. so in that regard, how is Hitchens any different?

    4. That's the way I feel about journalists. You wrote a story on the subject so now you're an expert? The celebrities on this show are brought on because they are addicts and can speak to the nature of addiction. Plus Russell Brand is the only one who seems to know how to handle Peter Hitchens and his inanity.

    5. Who cares what 'celebrities' do?...I don't care what the opinion is, 'celebrity' is no reason to give them a platform for opinions any greater than the average street preacher.


      I too reject and recoil at the way the media treats them as instant 'authorities' on a range of issues.

      OTH - The whole concepts of 'experts' has been overplayed and shaded into a confidence game decades ago.

  2. Hitchens also claimed that medical professionals are wrong to consider addiction a disease.

    I'm ambivalent on that one.

    1. It's too bad Thomas Szasz is dead.

    2. Outside of toxicity leading to physical withdrawal I'll go with "bad habit" or "moral failing".

    3. Printing (my former profession) is full of alcoholics and drug abusers. My experience with them has taught me that addiction appears to be more of a personal trait than something connected to an actual substance.
      One guy I knew was just an addict looking for his next addiction. He came out of rehab for pot, went deep for alcohol, came out of rehab again and dived headlong into crack. (I'm told it was crack: brown teeth, underweight and occasional blisters on his lips. Wild-eyed enthusiastic when he was high, and kind of like he was getting over the flu when he wasn't.)
      He was Mr Out Of Control. Others handled their stuff fine.

      1. One guy I knew was just an addict looking for his next addiction

        well, yeah. Have you not ever noticed how folks who go through AA or kick a drug habit frequently become either bible thumpers or gym rats? One addiction replaced with another. There is a psychological aspect to it.

        1. I was going to point out something similar. I have met many, and I mean many, really devout Christians who talk openly about their "dark days" that led to their conversion or whatever, and most of them talk about or allude to addiction issues. Religion really does give them something to hang their addiction on, and it is generally harmless. You can see why they feel they have been saved, and to a person who believes they had been the thrall of a dangerous drug which seems to have demonic power, the narrative of being saved by a powerful deity is probably quite strong.

          1. the narrative of being saved by a powerful deity is probably quite strong

            , especially since that same powerful deity created the dangerous drug which seems to have demonic power.

            1. It's just a form of job security for deities.

              1. Opiates are the religion for the masses?

                No, wait, wait... it'll come to me in a minute...

      2. One of my good friends is a permanent addict - jumping from heroin to the methadone clinic. And then coke. And then crack. Eventually moved on to prescription medications. And then a bout of alcoholism. He seems to have finally broken the cycle, but is a mental wreck having the emotional intelligence of a 12yo.

        Amazing that the guy is still alive - luckily he was born with a tough Dutch heart.

        I probably wouldn't be friends with him, but the old home town loyalty + he's the only local tubehead audiophiles around that I can stand.

    4. Maybe not a disease, but some kind of medical problem. Treatment is better and cheaper than torture.

  3. Addiction probably seems pretty real to those who would say they have it. That being said, I generally feel the treatment programs aimed at fixing addiction are mostly BS (why does alcoholism require 12 steps when smoking requires 1. /sarc). You wanna quit, something, just...quit. If you're not at that point, you must not want to do it bad enough.

    1. In some cases physical withdrawal symptoms can actually kill you, but generally I agree.

      Nicotine is easily one of the most, if not the most "addictive" substances out there, and in the end it is as simple as whether or not you really want to quit or not. Of course though it does make it much easier when you have stuff like nicotine patches and gum which can be used to relieve yourself from the physical withdrawal.

    2. People laugh at me when I say I was addicted to carbs, and I am half kidding. But when I first started low-carb the first time I went through two and a half days of cravings, aches, sweats and shakes. After that, I've been fine for ten years now.

  4. The War We Never Fought

    Cool story, bro. No boots on the ground means all those dead people and the ones rotting away in jail are just a libertarian meme, I guess.

    1. I just watched some of the debate, and that guy says the only reason why people use drugs is that the penalties aren't harsh enough.

      1. What a thoroughly loathsome creature.

        1. He goes on to demand that someone show him a serious study that proves him wrong, with the caveat that anything or anyone who disagrees with him is not serious.

          1. Of course, who cares about my opinion? I'm just a filthy insulin addict.

      2. that guy says the only reason why people use drugs is that the penalties aren't harsh enough.

        He and Piers Morgan should hate fuck each other to death.

      3. Now I'm now and have always been against the drug war, but how exactly is that statement false?

        With sufficiently harsh penalties--let's say universal mandatory daily urine tests combined with the death penalty for finding THC--virtually nobody would be using drugs. So what he said is true.

        I hasten to add that I of course do not support such a hypothetical regime or even the (slightly) less draconian one we have.

  5. whether addiction is a technically a disease or not may be debatable, but it seems silly to call addiction a fantasy. There are genetic predispositions to a lot of things, and the abuse of some substance is one of them.

    Put it this way -- how often have you seen an alcoholic or addict give up that habit and become an exercise fiend or extremely religious? One addiction traded for another. How often have you heard about the children of alcoholics either following in the parents' footsteps or being teetotalers to minimize risk?

    1. A disease, a genetic predisposition, weakness, whatever. Who has not had friends or family members who simply can't handle booze or drugs?

      Idiotic to think addiction isn't real.

      1. Almost as idiotic, if not quite as totalitarian, as medicalizing every character fault.

  6. What I learned from these videos is that Peter is to Christopher as Danny Devito is to Arnold Schwarzenegger in Twins.

  7. Hitchens would outlaw alcohol and tobacco too

    1. He kinda fits the teetotaler-addict model.

      Want's to ban everything because he can't trust himself - and fails to see that he's addicted to puritan moralizing.

  8. It's best to never become an anti-drug crusader in the first place.

    1. Drug Warrior. Not Even Once.

  9. I agree with Hitchens (I keep confusing the dead one with the living one) re everything he said in these videos. I don't like the policy of the drug laws, but that was only glancingly mentioned in the vids, and of what remains, Hitchens is 100% right: The purpose of the laws is deterrence, that imprisoning people is an unfortunate side effect of the individual failures of deterrence (as well as a needed demonstration of the threat posed by the laws), that there's no meaningful evidence that will operates differently in a condition referred to as "addiction", and that the characteriz'n of "addiction" as something outside the realm of human agency leads to contradictions in that model of behavior and "recovery".

  10. I almost wish we'd go with the "addiction isn't real" thing just so people wouldn't think drug users are irrational zombies that get this unearthly cloud in their eyes that needs lifting from the criminal justice system. That seems like an easier step to ultimately shifting law enforcement efforts from drugs to crimes committed by drug users.

  11. God killed the wrong Hitchens.

  12. Drug courts only validate the insane war on drugs. The "offender" is still saddled with a criminal record and is supposed to feel lucky because he/she is given a lessor sentence.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.