Sunday 3 April 2016

Pick And Mix

When you go to vote in an election, do you ever agree with every single proposal in the manifesto of the party you stick your X against? No, of course not.

Likewise, do you 100% agree with every position taken on every subject by all of your friends? I'd suggest this would be quite impossible, in fact if you insisted on such a high bar of agreement I would guess you would probably have very few friends, if any at all! Jeez, how many of us even agree with everything our family or partners think or say, let alone people who have no familial or spousal connection?

I say this because yesterday's article here prompted two others elsewhere which - I venture to suggest - misunderstood my point about a Clive Bates rant quite spectacularly.

Firstly, Simon Clark wrote this.
"Bravo!" applauds Dick. "Watch and enjoy," he tells his readers, "because this is what advocacy should be like: confident, forthright and pleasantly free of nitpicking and weasel words."

Personally I find it quite nauseous.

I've made it clear (several times) that I admire Clive's skills as a campaigner but that recognition comes with a serious caveat.

In November 2014, for example, I wrote:
Clive is a shrewd, sincere and intelligent campaigner. I have a lot of respect for him but I must point out – not for the first time – that the idolatry (#ImWithClive) that greets his every word is ironic because in my opinion he must take some share of the blame for the culture of intolerance that has swept the nation with regard to smoking and, by association, nicotine.

As director of ASH Clive was no stranger to fear mongering about passive smoking. Few of the allegations made much sense and during his time in charge the threat of second hand smoke was repeatedly debunked.
See The Canonisation of Clive Bates (Taking Liberties).
I fail to see how this is relevant. I don't have to subscribe to everything Bates has ever said to be able to applaud one brilliantly accurate rant. Of course I'd disagree with him if he believes passive smoke is anything but a myth (which it is) but it would be pretty stupid to dismiss everything else he says on that basis.

If he says something good I'll applaud it, if he says something I disagree with I'm happy to do the opposite. Life is a series of pick and mix choices like that, or we'd all go insane.

Likewise, my esteemed Irish pal Grandad had a poke too.
Where the vapers are wrong is in their attempts to prove that vaping is safer than smoking.  That is completely irrelevant.  By doing that they are playing the Nanny State game.  The argument should be that no one should be dictating how we live our lives in the first place
Maybe smoking does have health implications, but they aren't as bad as the Nannies make out.  That is irrelevant as I make my own decisions about what I do.  I cannot see why it is anyone else's business.  If I enjoy doing the ton on a motorbike then provided I don't kill anyone else then that's my choice.  If I decide to climb Mount Everest I know there are huge risks but they are my risks and I choose to take 'em. 
So whether it's smoking, vaping, alcohol, fast food or sugary drinks it is none of the Nannies business, and the stance should be to tell them to fuck off and keep their noses out of private people's lives.  The gubmint does not have a responsibility to keep us healthy – that is our responsibility as individuals.  If we make the wrong decisions and end up as obese alcoholic chain-smokers then so be it – we may regret it in later life but we knew the risks and took them.
Yep, I agree with most of that. He's right, for example, that it is none of nanny's business. He's also correct that we should be allowed to make our own choices in life, and it's absurd that there is a heavily state-funded industry dedicated to perverting that. But we are where we are; in sporting terms the saying is that you can only play what is in front of you and it is pie-in-the-sky to stick to just one weapon when you have others available.

Vapers that I know have exactly the same opinion of 'public health' as Simon Clark, Grandad and I, but there are two arguments for vapers to use when tackling the avalanche of hysteria being slung at vaping; choice and health, why would it be a good idea for them to abandon one of those entirely?

Grandad also makes this point:
Unfortunately a hell of a lot of vapers have climbed on the Tobacco Control Bandwagon.  Their constant references to vaping being safer than smoking and that vaping is saving millions [a billion?] of lives is nothing short of regurgitating the mass hysteria pumped out by TC.
Look, it's perfectly fair to say that passive smoking is a myth, because it is, but it's not the same to pretend that smoking doesn't present health risks. I've explained this at length before in relation to the A Billion Lives documentary (which was the last time, incidentally, many people spectacularly missed the point).
No-one, but no-one, has died from secondhand smoke - we even have court cases stating that it is fantasy - let alone 165,000 kids! It is wrong and should be called out as wrong whenever it is mentioned. Many of the problems vapers face are rooted in this mythical nonsense - when people see vapour, they get scared they will be poisoned and die because they have been conditioned to think that anything they can inhale must be dangerous ... when it's not. It is a tool that has been used by anti-smokers to circumvent the idea of free choice. The extremists in tobacco control still cling to the hope that this irrational and baseless fear will convince the public to hate e-cigs too. To use it in favour of vaping can only be self-defeating.

So why am I comfortable with the "billion lives" stat being used, I hear you ask. Well, it's because that is an entirely different onion. It is undoubtedly a tobacco control industry exaggeration too, but it is actually rooted in some basis of fact. Personally, I don't think that a billion smokers will die as a result of smoking before the end of the century - which is what is claimed - but many will. This is because (some would disagree, see these debates from 2010), it is true. We can argue about how many exactly - and a billion is almost certainly an exaggeration - but it has an element of truth about it.

In that case, it is perfectly acceptable to throw this stat back at tobacco control liars and ask them why - if they believe a billion people will die from smoking - they are determined to deter as many as possible from switching to something even the most absurd of their profession admit is far less harmful ... and doing so with outrageous lies.
Y'see? Pick and mix. I'm understanding about the documentary makers throwing heroic claims back in the faces of tobacco controllers, because it is a valid tactic, but there is a limit.

I don't see that I contravened those pretty basic rules yesterday. Bates was making very accurate arguments on this particular subject; why that somehow means anything else he has said in the past is automatically true, or, why it signals that I now subscribe to every thought he has ever had on any issue, ever, is a mystery.

It's perfectly possible to agree with, promote - and even celebrate - Bates's vaping and snus advocacy whilst still disagreeing fundamentally with his former role and, if need be, everything else he has ever uttered since birth. The reason I did so was because it exhibited a dislike for coercive policies (Bates has been a very vocal opponent of daft tobacco controllers and ultimately stupid 'endgame' fantasies, for example) which fits in with my general ethos that the carrot is far more effective than the stick.

Feel free, as always, to make of that what you will and flame away if you must.

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