Lay off the insanity offence

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In light of the John Brogden story in the Sydney Morning Herald today, I had a minor Twitter rant about the use of mental illness as a weapon of political combat. When I worked in politics in NZ in the nineties, it was commonplace to accuse enemies of instability; spread rumours of supposed breakdowns; characterise the alleged use of medications as evidence of frailty. In one instance, there were even persistent whispers that past treatments for cancer had triggered insanity. Not least because of my own struggles in subsequent years, I've come to regret whatever part I played in this. There are plenty of other, better ways to demean your opponents – like, I dunno, going after their bad ideas?

(Forgive me my self-righteousness – it's the quality I loathe most of all in others).