Thursday, 15 July 2010

Righteous Cliché-Busting

I've thought for a while that it might be worth listing, and rejecting, the clichés that are proffered regularly on internet fora and article comments by anti-smokers.

It was always envisioned as a stand-alone piece, but seeing as a cartoon in yesterday's Evening Standard has indirectly, and inadvertently, busted one for me, why not set the ball rolling now, eh?

The particular yawn-inducing defence of smoking bans in question, which is supposed to be a debate-killer apparently, is this one.

"Your right to smoke ends where my nose begins"
It's a cracker, ain't it?

So perfect is it, that it has occasionally even cropped up at Westminster. Here's an example from Labour MP (natch) Judy Mallaber during a debate on the very loosely-related topic of the tobacco display ban last October.

Judy Mallaber (Amber Valley, Labour)

Does the hon. Gentleman not accept that one person's choice to smoke affects other people's choice not to smoke? One person's freedom stops at my nose when it comes to smoking.
It's one of the ASH classics. Originating around 1994 in the USA, it fails on many levels. For example, it kinda presumes that non-smokers don't possess a pair of legs, let alone that smokers are somehow inferior to those who don't like the smell. But that's not why it is fundamentally flawed.

This is.

The cartoon above was light-heartedly appended to an article on property rights - entirely unrelated to smoke emissions - in the Standard. The homeowner may well have a right, in this case, to object to such a thing spreading onto his property.

Of course, when used to justify smoking bans in, say, a pub, it is less than useless.

You see, an anti-smoker complaining about his right to clean air on private property forgets one thing. He/she doesn't own that property. The right to smoke has nothing whatsoever to do with their nose, and all to do with the whim of the person who owns the land on which they are standing. Or should have in a free country, anyway.

This holds true for everywhere that the cliché can possibly be trotted out.

A smoker's right to smoke ends where a non-smoker's nose begins in the High Street? No, not really, as the Queen owns that land, and the local authority administers it. If the LA wants to make it a smokefree zone, they would be required to jump through a few hoops like, I dunno, legislative process. The non-smoker's nose has absolutely nothing to do with it.

There is no legislated 'right' to clean air. Nor, I suggest, will there ever be. Can you imagine the huge can of worms that would open up as anti-car pressure groups queued up to call for their legislated 'rights'?

You may be able to demand rights on your own property - you might succeed, you might fail - but you have no right whatsoever to demand any kind of rights on someone else's property.

Unless you're a deluded lefty, of course, in which case you just demand the right to the world on a stick.


Smoking Hot said...

The nose could be put back an inch or so quite easily. :)

Bucko said...

Bugs doesn't it. I've seen the right "not to breathe smoke" used in the same way with the debate on CCTV and the DNA database. People quote the right "not to be a victim of crime".

No such rights exist. I think you could say in most cases that people have a right to , not a right not to .

brankach said...

To simplify it: Where does one's right to put his nose end? :)

Leg-iron said...

If all antismokers had flat noses, we'd have more room to smoke.

And they wouldn't be able to smell anything so everyone would be happy.

Cricket bats would do the job.

On the cliches, whatever happened to 'it'll stunt your growth'? I haven't heard that one in a long time.

hangemall said...

"Your right to talk shite ends where my ears begin. Fuck off."

Frank Davis said...

I came across the "Your right to smoke stops at my nose" argument from John Aravosis of Americablog about 5 or 6 years ago. That was when I stopped reading Americablog, and started to distance myself from the US left, who'd suddenly begun to look horribly ugly.

The same argument would be to say "Your right to play music stops at my ears", as used to ban juke boxes in pubs. Or "Your right to say whatever you like stops at my eyes," to ban conversation. Or "Your right to wear garishly coloured clothes stops at my eyeballs," to ban whatever you happen to be wearing.

It's an obscene argument.

And there are all these 'rights' which materialise out of nowhere. I've argued for a long time that we have no rights, and nobody ever had any rights, and rights are things that simply don't exist.

Frank Davis said...

Fuck it. Mixed up my eyes with my ears back there. You get the picture though.

Anonymous said...

There are five senses. Why is the anti-smoker's sense of smell the trump card?

If I don't like hip-hop, because it offends me to hear it; if I don't like fat or ugly people, because it offends me to look at them; if I don't like chlorine added to the water supply, because I don't like the way it tastes, on their logic I have a RIGHT to demand these things and people be removed, because:

- A person's right to listen to music ends where my ears begin;
- An unattractive person's right to go out in public ends where my eyes begin; and
- A person's right to safe and clean water ends where my taste buds begin.

Just what makes the anti-smoker's sense of smell so important that it justifies a vitriolic crusade of hatred and apartheid against over 20% of the adult population?

banned said...

The other day I was smoking outside my work related vehicle when some dippy woman CHOSE to cross the road and give a loud 'tut' as she passed; at that point I blew smoke at her which is something I usually avoid, stupid bitch.

JuliaM said...

Hangemall has the right response!

Chuckles said...

Anon, It is not that the sense of smell is the trump card. The righteous have all senses permanently on hair trigger alert for anything in their surroundings which will allow them to be more aggrieved or smug than they already are.
It is their reason to exist.

I have also heard 'Your noses rights end where my fist begins...

Anonymous said...

The key point is the ownership of air in, and rights of access to private property. Nobody has a right to go in any pub, never did have. If the landlord doesn't like you (e.g. because you're an anti smoker) he has the right to refuse admission. On the point of "protecting workers" tthe landlord has the right to hire only smokers. This last poiint would make the antis spit if they knew about it. It should be aired more thoroughly.

George Speller

Rick S said...

Antismokers love to throw these apparently debate-stopping, but actually meaningless, comments into arguments. It's a close cousin of "Smokers talk about their right to smoke. What about my right to clean air?"

In this way, a discussion about separate smoking rooms in pubs gets hijacked by an idiotic argument about nonexistent "rights" and leaves the bizarre impression that the antismoker making the comment is simultaneously present everywhere.

It's quite a clever tactic, as it's hard to argue coherently when your opponent is talking gibberish. Doesn't stop them being bastards, though.

Anonymous said...

My Chav mate Brazza has a simple
remedy for nanny noses suffering
from nico-fumes,a forcefull, well aimed head butt usually sorts the
problem out for a day or two.

As for femme nannies ,a sharp smack on the back of the head
usually alleviates the problem.

Sink estate dweller

Anonymous said...

This "smoke stops at my nose argument" is not relevant to the ban and no matter how many times you explain it, it doesn't get through. How can the existence of a pub designated as smoking affect the MP? She would not go in it. Her only argument then, is that its existence is cutting down her options. Were smoking banned, it may have existed as a non smoking pub. But it could be argued that the existence of every shop cuts down her drinking options. Do these people just switch off and press an automated reply button their heads. They are not all stupid. Those of you who agree with the MP, can you please explain?

Longrider said...

The righteous either do not understand or choose to ignore the meaning of negative liberty.

So they come up with specious arguments such as "being free from crime" - which translates into treating everyone as a potential criminal, thereby stamping on civil liberties and "being free from second-hand smoke" which translates into bullying and demonising smokers.

Naturally, they have a right to be "free from fat people" and "free from drinkers" too...

Anonymous said...

Talking about noses,a nice little
spraying on the backs of pompous
arseholes should give them
something to really whinge about.
Retire to a distant corner and try not to go black in the face laughing.
Can be obtained at any good joke
shop or Amazon

Fart Spray 30g
A can of the most foul smelling gas you've ever smelt.
Spray It Near Someone! Retire To A Safe Distance!

Prat shifter