What does Croydon tram ranter Emma West
have in common with R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck? Both exhibited outrageous behaviour while travelling: Miss West on a tram; Peter Buck a decade earlier on an aircraft, something that was of course far more serious, even without the racial epithets. Buck was acquitted of attacking British Airways staff on the grounds of non-insane automatism
From the 1970s if not from the mid-60s, for those of us who can remember the era
, rock musicians and outrageous behaviour were hardly strangers, but Peter Buck is a fairly low key kind of guy, and it is clear this incident was totally out of character. There are no reports of him doing anything like it either before or since.
Emma West is not a public figure, so less is known about her. What should have been obvious from the start though is that this was not the behaviour of a rational woman. If she had been with a group of thugs or perhaps obviously drunk, then maybe, but a young woman travelling on a tram at peak time, not obviously drunk, and with a young child sitting on her lap, Inspector Clousseau would surely have spotted something amiss. Alas, the politically correct morons of the Clown Prosecution Service saw things differently, and she ended up being remanded in custody.
When she appeared at Croydon Crown Court for sentencing on July 1, she was given a community sentence. According to her barrister
, she had unwittingly taken two and a half times the recommended dose of her antidepressants, and had also drunk a glass of wine before the incident.
Offensive though her behaviour was, it was clearly tinged with paranoia. There is a bigger issue here. We have seen far more serious incidents than this - more serious than racism
? Well, yes, the name Raoul Moat
springs to mind, and Jared Loughner
The real issue here is not any kind of anti-social behaviour but are we damaging our brains with drugs? Both Peter Buck and Emma West had combined medication with small quantities of alcohol. To all intents and purposes they are both normal people, but clearly the effect of this combination on abnormal people can be catastrophic. The Emma West case may be over, but in one sense, the story has only begun. The American psychiatrist Peter Breggin
has been warning against the dangers of especially psychiatric drugs throughout his long career. Some people would argue it is time we listened to what he has to say.