Sunday, 12 June 2022

Vanished Words

In George Orwell’s masterpiece about despotism, Nineteen Eighty-Four, the hero, Winston Smith, goes though old newspapers looking for stuff which no longer fits in with the official version of the truth, and destroys all trace of it.

This censoring of the past is no longer fiction. For instance, a document which says ‘We do not have an independent, valid test for ADHD, and there are no data to indicate that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction’ has been altered in the records of America’s National Institutes of Health. These crucial words have been removed. Nobody can explain how, why, or who did it. But I have a copy of the undoctored original which miraculously survived.

Now there is controversy about a report of the recent massacre in Uvalde, Texas, in that great newspaper The New York Times, famous for its rectitude. In an early account, the newspaper quoted one of the shooter’s co-workers at the Wendy’s hamburger restaurant in Uvalde as saying she ‘recalled he would often talk about how much he despised his mother and grandmother, whom he told her did not let him smoke weed or do what he wanted’.

I am one of a growing number of people who believe - thanks to evidence of drug use among violent killers - that there may be a connection between marijuana use, mental illness and rampage killings.

This report was of great importance to us. So when it vanished from the New York Times website the next day, I tried repeatedly to get an explanation. The newspaper, normally very careful to explain any such changes, has not done so this time. Was the story perhaps wrong? No. The Mail on Sunday sent a reporter, Barbara McMahon, to Uvalde. She tracked down the woman at Wendy’s, Jocelynn Rodriguez.

Ms Rodriguez confirmed that she had said the vanished words to a New York Times reporter. She also said the killer had asked colleagues, in her hearing, where he could buy marijuana. I am still trying to get The New York Times to explain why it felt that, of all the news it had in its possession that day, the shooter’s liking for marijuana was the bit they did not think was fit to print.

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