Just when the eulogies are going a bit stale, it has come time for me to add my thoughts about the late Hunter S. Thompson.
The “Good Doctor” was, in his own way, an incredible writer. He did have a knack for getting a story. However, he wrote with such reckless abandon, tossing accuracy aside in the process, that he merged fact with fiction to the point where the lines between the two became blurred. It was if he was forcing you to believe every single thing you read. I’ve always thought it was strange how he kept pushing the limits and breaking the law, and yet somehow – incredibly – continued to get away with it. You thought to yourself, this guy must be God himself. He’s untouchable.
In short, he was a man who had a super-inflated opinion of himself. And, expressing this opinion in the more fictional accounts of his adventures/assignments, HST became legendary.
But, though excessive, his writing was interesting. It’s always fun to hear about someone’s adventures after they’ve rendered themselves nearly mentally ill from too much alcohol, amyl, marijuana, cocaine and acid. It was the acid that Thompson was especially fond of. And then actually trying to explain your worldview while in the throes of a come-down – this was the “bent appeal,” as HST would say himself, in his work. There was a good reason why Hunter’s work was referred to as “Gonzo” journalism.
HST had always been a Leftist. The more political views expressed in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas reflected his distrust of the Establishment, but it was the Nixon-bashing Fear and Loathing: on the Campaign Trail ’72 that appealed to liberal-Leftists everywhere. That book bestowed immediate anti-Establishment credentials on Thompson and made him a favorite of pinko cognoscenti everywhere.
Yet, though quite far to the Left, HST did have a love of firearms. And he was not afraid to use them. For instance, in Hell’s Angels, in describing his living arrangements at the time he first started hanging out with the biker gang, Thompson wrote, “For reasons that were never made clear, I blew out my back windows with five blasts of a 12-gauge shotgun, followed moments later by six rounds from a .44 Magnum. It was a prolonged outburst of heavy firing, drunken laughter and crashing glass.” Uhm … for reasons that were never made clear, Hunter? You were severely shit-faced! Seems pretty clear to me. (Incidentally, regarding Hell’s Angels, it is worth noting that in this 1965 book, Thompson first uses his trademark phrase “fear and loathing” (from Chapter 4 of “Making of the Menace”: “Here was Examiner, which had always viewed the Angels with fear and loathing …”)
This is just hinting at HST’s dark side. He was always a heavy drinker, and didn’t just take his frustrations out by shooting his back windows. In a revealing expose on Thompson in the February 27 issue of The Mail on Sunday (a British paper) by Sharon Churcher (I regret that I cannot find this article on-line, but if anyone doubts that this source exists, I’ll be more than happy to send you a photocopy), HST’s relationship with his wife is explored:
[T]hompson had met Sandy Dawn … They married in May 1963 and for the next 16 years, Sandy would be the victim of abuse and violence that drove her to alcoholism. Meanwhile, Thompson made little attempt to hide his dalliances with other women, including prostitutes.
The first time Thompson struck Sandy was while they were staying with a New York newspaper editor and his wife.
“I got into a conversation with the husband,” Sandy recalls. Hunter went to bed ahead of her. When she followed him, “all of a sudden, out of nowhere, came this really powerful punch across my face.”
Another time, they had drinks with a friend of Thompson’s, and his wife. “The wife has the worst racist,” Sandy says.
“I stated my admiration for the black race and when we got in the car, Hunter just screamed and hollered. He tried to push me out of the car while it was moving.”
Hmmm, seems like our hero to liberals everywhere was quite the racist. Churcher reveals more about that particular subject:
Thompson also resented black people. Gerald Tyrrell, a teenage friend, says: “There was a concrete culvert. Black dudes would be walking down there and we would ambush them. We had air guns and we’d shoot at them.”
Neville Blackemore, another friend, adds: “Hunter used to say, “Let’s go fight the niggers.”
Thompson’s racism was no folly of youth. In 1974, he was sent by Rolling Stone magazine to Zaire to cover the “Rumble in the Jungle” fight between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali. But he sold his tickets to buy drugs and said, “If you think I’ve come all this way to watch two niggers but the shit out of each other, you’ve got another thing coming.”
Compare that attitude with his sympathetic account of Ali’s struggle against the government over refusing to serve in Vietnam in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: “I turned to the sports page and saw a small item about Muhammad Ali; his case was before the Supreme Court, his final appeal. He’d been sentenced to five years in prison for refusing to kill “slopes.” Hunter wrote that in 1971. Three years later, his admiration for Ali seemed to have waned considerably.
Wife-beating and disrespecting women. Racism. Could it get any worse for the Left’s favorite author? It sure can. We can add homophobia to the list. Churcher writes:
Thompson detested homosexuals too. Again, he resorted to violence. In 1960, while staying in California, he discovered some hot springs were used as a meeting place for gays.
According to [Paul] Perry (author of Fear and Loathing: The Strange and Terrible Saga of Hunter S. Thompson), Hunter began stalking them with a club, threatening them. Then he and two friends took an alsatian and two Doberman Pinschers to a hill overlooking the springs. There were about 40 gay men bathing, many of them naked. Perry says: “Hunter growled, ‘Party’s over!’ He pulled a .44 Magnum and fired a shot into the air. Then men charged down the hill with the dogs lunging.”
We get some further insight into HST’s attitude toward gays in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: “We wound up at a place called The Blig Flip about halfway downtown … and we drank off a pot of watery “Golden West” coffee and watched four boozed-up cowboy types kick a faggot half to death between the pinball machines. “The action never stops in this town,” said my attorney as we shuffled out to the car.” No mention of how wrong and despicable that beating was. No remorse demonstrated on behalf of the “faggot.” Just a matter-of-fact, very nonchalant account of his witnessing of a gay bashing. True, that was at least 15 years before Gay Liberation got absorbed into mainstream liberalism – but you can tell Thompson actually enjoyed the violent scene.
In 1990, Thompson was tried for a third-degree sexual assault on a female reporter, Gail Palmer-Slater, who had sought an interview with him. He was also tried for possession of LSD, cocaine, marijuana and explosives that investigators found while searching his house on a warrant. Thompson denied the assault charge, insisting that Palmer-Slater actually worked in the sex industry, selling lingerie. Palmer-Slater charged Thompson with grabbing her breasts and punching her after she refused to hold the interview in the hot tub. In Songs of the Doomed, Gonzo Papers Volume 3, Hunter rails against the charges: “The only mention of drug use in this case comes from a browbeaten female witness who was drunk at the time and dopey with fear and booze and bad nerves. This is a Fourth Amendment case. It is not about sex or drugs or violence. It is about police power.” Yet, the Fourth Amendment clearly states that no warrants shall be issued except for probable cause. Knowing Thompson’s history, I’d say that was all the probable cause investigators needed.
So there you are. The man whose death every liberal-Leftist mourned was the very vision of what they consider repugnant. Care to shed any more tears for the “Good” Doctor?
HST was entertaining, no doubt about it. For instance, he had me crying tears of mirth during one story in The Great Shark Hunt where he recounts the time he and an associate were flying back to the U.S. from South America with many various drugs left in their cache. Thompson declared that there was one thing he’d never done and never intended to do – bring drugs in through customs. And he didn’t want to waste them either. That’s right: They gobbled every single one of them one the plane. And if they acted a bit strange, they’d pass it off as having drank too much. “It’s no crime to come back into the country drunk,” Thompson convinced his friend.
But it’s becoming ever more clear that HST invented “gonzo journalism” because he could never have fit into the conventional world of journalism. He always got his story and somehow managed through all his run-on sentences and abuse of punctuation to communicate the point. But does that excuse his massive self-indulgence and considerable prejudices?
HST referred to himself, in several of his writings, as a freak. No argument there. Now he’s a dead freak. As liberals were so keen to tell us when Ronald Reagan died, time to move on.