Tuesday, 28 July 2009

'The Times' Dear Tanya and monumental hubris

'The Times' has a piece in today, 'Dear Tanya, My son is dealing drugs...' The usual stuff. Sixteen year old, started smoking skunk, personality changed, parents are divorced, don't know how to deal with him. You know, all the stuff you've heard of from me. Father tries to be tough. Mother unravels and enables the son because she's unable to be tough with him. It's nothing new. The kid's also started to deal at school. It's a pattern.

So I wrote a comment at the end of the piece, as others have done too. Only theirs have been published, mine hasn't. In mine I wrote that the kid resembles mine. He also started smoking but that his personality changed and then he developed Bipolar disorder. Because of that I wrote my book and, as a result, I've been going into schools and other venues and talking about it.

I wrote that most sixteen year olds don't have the insight into the consequences of their behaviour; that although they use, they couldn't possibly develop mental health problems as a result. I wrote that when I speak in schools and, especially, read out the chapters from the book about Glastonbury and bringing Zach back from filthy pscyhiatric wards half way around the globe that they do sit up and, to some extent, take it in. I wrote that shock value, talking about someone like them, does have an impact.

The Times, in its judgement decided not to publish my post. Why, I ask, is that, or am I simply being naive, that the piece was simply to fill in space because, as we know, drugs are the topic of conversation this week. That the 'comments' left at the space below the article aren't really 'comments' at all, but all part and parcel of the article, written by the same person in order to give the impression that there is some input from us poor morons because isn't it true that the media believe us all to be morons?

This is not the first time that this has happened. Countless 'articles' in countless columns have been written about drug abuse and mental health problems and I have contributed to many in the comments' sections and only once has one been published. I think that this is a serious question and has to be asked on many levels. This presumably happens on every subject. The perception that it's a free press. Oh, no it isn't!

Back to Leh: Zach's latest three lines of email tell us that he's 'been in the trenches... but that I'm fine and there's no money problems...' Right. Okay. Fine. How, exactly? As of today, he's making his way towards Israel. 'I'll surprise you, he writes. Um. Again, how exactly? From skunk to gear to mania and dirty, nasty wards and even worse medication but no one's allowed to read about that. Hubris.

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