Once you buy the argument that some segment of the citizenry should lose their rights, just because they are envied or resented, you are putting your own rights in jeopardy - quite aside from undermining any moral basis for respecting anybody's rights. You are opening the floodgates to arbitrary power. And once you open the floodgates, you can't tell the water where to go. - Thomas Sowell, 2010Yes I know Sunday night is bath night, but you might find an article published today in the Irish Independent equally soothing. You see, I've read opinion pieces before which I've thought make good points, but I can't recall a time where I've agreed with absolutely every word!
Will we always be shackled by the killjoys, the bullies and the eternal-life fantasists of the health lobby?
In the last few years, they have managed to effectively criminalise smoking in all but the most narrowly defined places.
The damage done to pubs was immense - and whether our overlords want to admit it or not, pubs still provide the life blood of Irish society. We've also seen increased onslaughts on drinkers in a drive which seems to be partly motivated by smug, messianic zeal and partly just because they can.It's a great introduction isn't it? O'Doherty has hit the nail on the head. As I have written many many times before, we are not living through some ground-breaking era of health enlightenment - for the simple reason that intrusive and dictatorial nanny state policies of the past decade have had very little to do with health - but instead a second wind of Victorian prudish snobbery driven by the selfish financial needs of anti-social, state-funded trolls, as O'Doherty touches upon.
Let me state that this is not about smoking. It was never about smoking. Since the smoking ban all those years ago, both sides of the debate have made the mistake of assuming it was only about cigarettes.
In fact, it has always been about so much more than that.
Smoking was just the Trojan horse the bullies could use to get inside the citadel and start dictating the terms of everything else to everyone else.This is so true! Once you have managed - after 40 years of lies - to convince a gullible public that a whiff of tobacco smoke is instantly lethal, then it's open season on just about everything else.
Obesity is the new smoking? Course it is. Sugar is a toxin which must be almost eradicated? Well those experts were right about homeopathic smoke weren't they, so they must be right about that too. And with a public shorn of people to legitimately despise now political correctness has decimated the field, smokers who have been portrayed as filthy, and who 'stink' - along with fatties and those chav fizzy drink-chugging kids you see in the less salubrious parts of town - are perfect outlets for the repellent in society to publicly vent their bile at ... with the seal of government approval, no less!
If we had managed to stop them at the gates, and had successfully fought the ban then, we'd be living in a more hassle-free environment now.
That wouldn't be because people were allowed to have a fag with their pint. No, we would live in a less stressful environment because the professional health lobby, which has to come up with new moral panics to justify its tax funding, wouldn't have been so emboldened.Quite so. Would e-cigs be banned in the open air if it wasn't for the smoking ban? Of course not, no-one would care and the public would be laughing at any nanny state tax sponger who tried to pretend that vapour was somehow a threat. But the insatiable drive for more eye-catching - and increasingly absurd - policy objectives in order to keep 'public health' charlatans on the grant gravy train has led us to place where the public actually believes Lucozade is killing kids rather than mildly 'aiding recovery'.
We now seem to live in a climate where simply disapproving of something is enough to want to ban it. Cigarettes, alcohol, the 'wrong' food. The proposed sugar tax.Indeed. Prior to smoking bans there was little talk about how McDonald's Happy Meals were evil and how Coca-Cola sponsoring the Olympics was shocking. No-one cared that James Bond drank alcohol, politicians didn't compete as to who despised chocolate oranges the most, and we sure as shit didn't think anything wrong with Tony the Tiger on Frosties packs and a cereal being called Sugar Puffs (now renamed thanks to health Nazi-created hysteria).
The smoking ban was rammed through with the support of people who simply didn't care for the smell of smoke. It was sold on the basis that thousands of barmaids were being saved from a horrible death but do you really think anyone who loves the ban gives a toss about the staff? Well there may have been a tiny few but considering the most prevalent reason for liking it was that clothes and hair didn't need to be washed anymore, I'd say not.
It instead cultivated a society of the intolerant and self-absorbed being celebrated and encouraged by professional prohibitionists and single issue hobby horse floggers.
As O'Doherty brilliantly observes.
The common thread running through all of them is this astonishing arrogance which leads them to believe that they know more about your life than you do and are more qualified to make your choices than you are.
It's an astounding degree of hubris, but when you think you're better than everyone else, it's not such a giant leap.
We are surrounded and assailed on all sides by people who think they know more than you do.Very much so. Who remembers the image of health - Diane Abbott - sneering about the choices of working people back in 2014?
We're surrounded by busybodies who used to be known as cranks, but who are now called health experts.And this is the crux of it. Government listens to the cranks now instead of sending them on their way with a patronising pat on the head. Hence why we have a quite absurd political situation so brilliantly described by Brendan O'Neill in 2013.
To appreciate just how bizarre it is to have a well-known politician kick off a new year by declaring war on fried chicken, try to imagine if a minister or shadow minister did something like this a few decades ago. Cast your minds back before New Labour; before the emergence of what Labour MP Frank Field christened "the politics of behaviour"; before all the major parties made nannying and nudging the centrepieces of their political programmes; back to a time when politics was a more serious business concerned with class, power, wealth – imagine if, back then, a minister announced that she (or more likely, he) would wage war against chippies, or pie shops perhaps, in the name of helping the masses see the error of their gluttonous ways. People would be bamboozled. They'd think the minister was mad. They'd certainly ask why he or she was banging on about chips when such serious problems as poverty, homelessness and inequality were rife. It is testament to the extraordinary shrinking of the political imagination, to the shift from a politics concerned with changing the world to a politics obsessed with changing the habits and waistlines of the people who live in that world, that Ms Abbott's anti-chicken rant could be nodded through without so much as a "Whaaat?"Do go read O'Doherty's dose of Sunday night common sense in its glorious fullness here, and remember that there is nothing new in this world. J S Mill warned of the dangers in allowing hideous lifestyle fascists to take the reins of power 150 years ago in On Liberty.
All errors which [a citizen] is likely to commit against advice and warning, are far outweighed by the evil of allowing others to constrain him to what they deem his goodSo bravo to O'Doherty for publicly adding his voice to the growing disdain for smug, out-of-touch elitism and commenting on the anti-social nature of faux health 'experts' who are more interested in their own power and bank accounts than our well-being.
There are only a vanishing few of them in their fake health charity and tax-draining echo chamber, but many millions of us who are not odious, bottom-feeding, curtain-twitching shitsacks who like to pompously look down their nose on the choices of others.
The more commentators who wake up to the threat of nanny state extremism to society, the more politicians will start to realise that their bread might be better buttered allowing the public to make their own choices for fear of getting kicked in the nuts at the ballot box for being out of touch ... again.