Smoking out the Health Nazis

‘I would have thought that somewhere on this island, amidst the freaks who read nothing but the short words of right wing papers, there is still some smallish segment of the Manx population with enough self-restraint or self-respect not to turn into gibbering, jism-splattered monsters at the very thought that other locals might have their lives made more miserable by pointless legislation which bans or severely restricts every possible manifestation of private pleasure or adult behaviour.’

I said that in a previous post about the way island politicians (after absolutely no attempt to genuinely consider the matter) blindly followed the UK and Ireland (who in turn blindly followed an Australian anti-tobacco policy which has completely failed) in introducing yet more pointless restrictions on smoking. If they go through (which they must, considering the apathy, near illiteracy and zero critical capacity of MHKs) then the next step will be a complete ban on smoking in private vehicles, and eventually private homes.

Simply because I thought I should, I passed media reports and links to relevant government surveys to Irish and British libertarians who might be interested. In replying, one noted with alarm something I had almost forgotten about the 2013 consultation on smoking, which was that 25% of respondents to a government consultation think the state should be able to kick your front door in to stop you smoking. That may not be how the question was phrased, but it is, finally, what it meant.

If that is true, then the Isle of Man is now a society where a significant sector of the populace is too mentally disturbed to be trusted around vulnerable people – and probably anyone else. It provides the strongest recent evidence I have seen that this place is as dangerous to the individualist, the different and the thinking as it was in the lowest point in recent Manx history, the mid-1980’s. And I don’t think that just because I’ve been reading a lot of Burroughs, who had a nose and zero tolerance for this kind of thing.

As I also said before, I have never smoked and find Manx pubs too dull, corporate and generally uninteresting to spend time in them, so this legislation should not affect me. But I do think a situation where kneejerk attitudes towards smokers resemble the most simplistic prejudice against blacks, women or gays (and where most of the bigots are so self-righteous and tunnel-visioned that they cannot or will not even consider that they might have a blind prejudice) is worrying.

It follows a pattern often seen in the development of a prejudice. A group of people are so sure that they must be right, and so linked to power, that they are able to quickly spread a ludicrous lie until it is no longer questioned and becomes a common sense ‘truth’, with absolutely no consideration of the potential for damage to human beings.

Replace the word ‘smoking’ with ‘reading’, track the way in which intolerance of smoking has spread and the means by which social attitudes were re-engineered, and then think very, very carefully the next time a nice, allegedly liberal and educated, person from a charity, pressure group or department of government suggests that ‘X’ is a ‘social time-bomb’ which needs ‘treatment’ by legislation which further deprives consenting adults of rights we used to take for granted.

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