Frank Davis

Banging on about the Smoking Ban

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Small Places Close To Home
I've been meaning to mention this.

Over the past year or so, the BBC has been running a radio series called A History of the World in 100 Objects in conjunction with the British Museum. There were 100 15-minute programmes. They started out with sculptures and coins and all the stuff you'd expect. And they worked slowly up from 2000 BC to the present day.

One of the last ones was about a 1966 etching by David Hockney, called In The Dull Village. It shows a couple of young men in bed together.

And, of course, it's exactly the sort of picture you'd pick if you wanted to show how enlightened and tolerant we are these days. And Shami Chakrabarti (for it is she), head of Liberty, can be heard to declare:

"I think that this is a wonderful image to represent what human rights are all about."

She goes on:

"It's a picture of two gay men, but it's not - to my eyes anyway - desperately erotic or racy or controversial. It's two people, obviously in some kind of intimate relationship, lying next to each other in a relaxed way in bed. It reminds me of what Eleanor Roosevelt said about human rights - 'Human rights begin in small places close to home'. This is not big politics, this is not legal judgement and legislation, this is about understanding what it is to be a human being, and respecting it."

But she adds a cautionary note:

"...And lest we get too complacent in modern Britain, there are still people who fear deportation from Britain to countries where they might be persecuted, criminalised, imprisoned, or worse. The death penalty, in some cases, just for being themselves - just for perfectly consensual adult feelings and relationships, based on love."

And, of course, we're quite likely to get complacent, aren't we, in modern Britain where pretty much everybody's rights are protected.

Unless you're a smoker, that is. Back then, they were excluding and fining and imprisoning a gay population that made up maybe 1 in 20 of the population. They've now moved on to demonising and excluding and fining and imprisoning the smokers who make up 1 in 4 of the population. That's 5 times as many people being persecuted now than were being persecuted back then. And they don't have to be sent to some other country for this to be done: Britain is a world leader in persecuting smokers.

Yet David Hockney, apart from being gay, also happens to be a smoker. And before Shami Chakrabarti had opened her mouth, he can be heard to say:

"Then you couldn't be gay, but you could smoke everywhere. Now, it's the other way around. I mean . . . the story of my life, that!"

And in those few words, Hockney points to the stinking hypocrisy of this nauseatingly self-congratulatory programme, that it can hail the progress made in respect of homosexuality, but turn a blind eye to what is now being done to smokers, which is at least as vindictive as anything that was ever done to homosexuals.

But the self-righteous Chakrabartis of the world can't see it. Smokers aren't on her list of approved causes. According to a commenter on Bishop Hill,

She also remained silent on fox-hunting and the smoking ban. Letters written to Liberty about the smoking ban were simply ignored.

And this is why a programme like this is so achingly hollow and empty. Because it's all lies. There has been no progress at all. One bunch of people has stopped being persecuted, and another far larger bunch of people has started to be persecuted instead.

Nevertheless I liked that line from Eleanor Roosevelt about human rights starting in "small places close to home."

She was dead right.

They're called "pubs".

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Art is, of course, a very subjective thing, but I have to say that I don't find anything impressive about "In a Dull Village" as a work of art. It looks like something some kid might have scribbled in his notebook to get through the boredom of study hall.

I'm trying to think of an existing term for what I want to describe, but I'm not aware of one. So, I'll call it "objectification of tolerance". Entirely separate from any principles as to why society should be tolerant regarding gays is the idea that anything related to being gay should simply be treated like it's a wonderful thing. Like that drawing--there's nothing significant about it in terms of art. It seems to me that only a person who is hyper-aware of what the drawing depicts could find anything special about it.

Then people of the very same ilk will turn around and see that Paul McCartney is carrying a cigarette on the "Abbey Road" album cover, and they'll airbrush that little sucker into oblivion. (When McCartney passes on, and the world is mourning his loss, someone will probably want to photo-shop shoes onto his feet.)

Political correctness reduces human behavior into "approved" and "unapproved" categories. The only result, then, is that human beings will be treated as "approved" or "unapproved" human beings. And whether a person is considered to be "approved" or "unapproved", one is still treated like an object rather than a human being. If you don't like President Obama, it must be because President Obama is black and you're a racist. If you have a co-worker who is incompetent, but also happens to be gay, the perception of incompetence should be second-guessed. After all, isn't your latent homophobia unconsciously informing your perceptions?

However, if grandma smokes, and even if she doesn't smoke in the presence of the grand kids, it's perfectly reasonable to protect the kids from grandma's, well, whatever, and keep the grand kids away from grandma. If people smoke at home, but don't smoke at work at all, subject them to blood tests and fire them if they don't conform! "It's for health care costs, I tell you!"

So, we don't have morals or principles anymore. We have a "nice" list and and a "naughty" list--just like Santa Claus. Hey! Right in time for Christmas!


I can't say that I've ever really liked Hockney's art. It's borderline naive art. I suppose that's part of its charm.

But I think very highly of him for speaking up about the smoking ban. He never misses an opportunity.

The other word for "unapproved" is "unacceptable". There's a list of things that are "acceptable" and "unacceptable". Morality becomes box-ticking.


"There's a list of things that are "acceptable" and "unacceptable". Morality becomes box-ticking."

If it was this easy.
Morality is about personal values - what is 'unacceptable' to me may be 'acceptable' to another person. At least I have the liberty to walk away from what I perceive as no respect for what is 'unacceptable' for me without infringing the other person's liberty, if no, for both sides acceptable, compromise can be reached.

Apart from the concepts of "acceptable" and "unacceptable" being individuals' perception - if I go into a pub I find this "morality" distorted. I do not have the option of a comfortable room to enjoy my drink and a cigarette - I have the option of not smoking or stand outside (without a drink!) in all weather. Although I am very sympathetic to the effect this has on local business, I (and many others!) decided that the smoking ban was "unacceptable" - and walked away. No-one can say I (and all the others) did infringe the anti-smokers' perception of what is "unacceptable" for them.
However, is the option of the every decreasing number of traditional pubs "acceptable"?

I don't mind lots of words. I don't mind "right" and I don't mind "wrong". But "unacceptable" is word I just can't stand. Unacceptable to whom? That's the question it always prompts in me. And it's a word that I somehow associate with New Labour. Because it's only in the last 10 years or so that it seems to have gained currency.


I associate the terms "acceptable/unacceptable" with Westgard rules
and it amuses me, how fashionable these words have become, hence my use of " " in my previous post.
You do have a point - if I remember correctly, it was New Labour who used these terms extensively in order to justify questionable decisions. Even the term "violation" has gained currency in the last 13 years.

Happy Christmas Frank.

Although to be fair to Shami Chakrabarti and Liberty she did sign up for my and Dick Puddlecote's "Nick Clegg, don't for get to amend the smoking ban" Facebook page.

Isobelle Sankey of Liberty also spoke at Forest's Freedom debates and very eloquent she was too.

Re: Shami Chakrabarti

I'll take your word for it, Dave. But they don't seem to have a very high opinion of her over on Bishop Hill, and for a variety of reasons.

And Happy Christmas to you too.


Re: Shami Chakrabarti

Shortly before the ban was given the nod by Parliament, I subscribed to Liberty, because I felt that it was sure to regard the smoking ban as a pretty important divergence away from all the “usual” infringements upon our liberties, because in so many ways it goes in a very different direction from all the others and treads on some new and worrying territory.

I was disappointed to see not so much as a squeak about the ban in any of the plentiful literature which they provided on a regular basis, because I felt that if anyone would have their antennae finely tuned to the unique nature of the threats which the imposition of the ban would indicate for the British public – both smokers and non-smokers alike, because of the whole principles behind it (rather than just the fact that it was about smoking) – then it would be them. But no. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Needless to say, I never bothered renewing my subscription to them.

My impression of Liberty is that, like many organisations originally set up for a generally good cause, they’ve now got so big that they’ve got a bit “up themselves” and have largely forgotten their original, very laudable aims. It seems to happen a lot with large organisations, particularly charities, which is one reason why I never give to any of the very big ones, or to any which undertake large (and very expensive) media ad campaigns. I reckon if they’ve got enough cash for that, but they’re not spending it on their “target” causes (animals, kids, the elderly, sufferers of various ailments etc etc) then they’ve probably already lost their way ……..

What staggers me is the weight of resources thrown by the NHS at gays - presumably because they represent a clear "public health risk", while never never never daring to suggest that they should go in for "gay cessation" - meanwhile for the smokers . . . well, you know the rest.

Re: The gay thing


I think you may find the answer here.



I am not aware of resources thrown by the NHS at gays - they are (to my knowledge) not a clear "public health risk". "Infection control" is a well funded area in the NHS and apart from "fighting super bugs" it also includes GUM clinics (for both, homo- and heterosexuals).

Nevertheless, the NHS still throws a considerable amount of resources, something of which it is desperately short, into "smoking cessation".
I remember being told (ca. 3 years ago) that if I need help with my smoking to attend this. My reply was: " Thank you, I don't require help, I can smoke perfectly fine without it!"

Re: The gay thing

"What staggers me is the weight of resources thrown by the NHS at gays - presumably because they represent a clear "public health risk", while never never never daring to suggest that they should go in for "gay cessation" - meanwhile for the smokers . . . well, you know the rest."

I don't think I'd draw an equivalence between being gay and smoking, or even being gay and any other "lifestyle" related consumption choice.

However, there is a startling difference between how government endorsed tolerance regarding AIDS, but now endorses blind hatred for tobacco users.

I hope you'll forgive my self-indulgent plug, but I wrote a FORCES article sussing out this topic some time ago.(I'm not sure if it will make a link here. If not, Copy and paste into your browser if interested.)


It's called hypocrisy - and it is vile, evil, based on lies, "liberal" hypocrisy at that.

Here, this is straight from the Bible, predicted millenia ago by one major prophet called Isaiah, who took messages from God and wrote them down as he received them, from the King James Version, Old Testament, Isaiah, Chapter 32, Verses 5 and 6, and I quote:

"The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful.

"For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fall.

(That last line, "... he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fall" - that sounds like the pub closures caused by the "vile" "liberal" smoke-bans, based on lies, prophecised millenia ago, by Isaiah, doesn't it?)

(And the entire chapter, 20 versus, is really on about how eventually the lies become known and thus why the "vile" can no longer be called "liberal" - because they are found out.)

This is nothing new. Just because they go by the name "liberals" these days, doesn't make them not hypocrites or not liars or not charlatan magicians, turning lies into "truth" for their own benefit. "Good" is just a word, even evil itself can be dressed up to look like "goodness" - oldest trick in the book.

Of course smokers are demonized - and the outcome is, like you say, an even larger number discriminated and hated than years earlier - which makes the liars and hypocrites in charge just that much more powerful in their reach over people and into peoples' lives - exactly the outcome they desire.

Hello Frank. Best wishes to you and yours and all who post here.

I trust that you followed the process that I described as regards your move!

As regards TOBACCO CONTROL, there is no actual thing. There is no actual organisation called TOBACCO CONTROL. This renders all the organisations which comprise TOBACCO CONTROL impervious to attack – it is a cloud.

But, as you have said yourself, WE are also a cloud. Which CLOUD is going to succeed? It may take some time, but I can only see one conclusion – the victory of ‘people who enjoy tobacco’.

And why is that? Because of the internal contradictions of TOBACCO CONTROL.

What are the internal contradictions?

In the immediate situation in which I find myself (day before Xmas eve), I can only think of one, and that is (and it is damning), “For what reason, MR TOBACCO CONTROLER, are your HABITS more ok than mine?”

Isn’t that very simple?

What my little exercise in confounding the BMJ has shown is that hardly anyone in the medical profession gives a toss about smoking.The refusal of the thousands of medics to vote indicates quite clearly that THEY DO NOT AGREE, but they dare not say so. They can only indicate their displeasure by refusing to take part. Thus we see that TOBACCO CONTROL revolves around a very small group

Hello, Frank --

A short message to wish you all the best for the Christmas season and the New Year!

Hope that your move went well, despite the weather, and that you are able to settle in soon.

Looking forward to more exchanges in the New Year!

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