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Frank Davis

Banging on about the Smoking Ban

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Evading Propaganda
As I've mentioned several times, I no longer have a TV set. I just felt, more and more, that I was being propagandised by it. Over smoking, drinking, obesity, global warming, the War on Terror, etc, etc, etc. I began to wonder why I sat in front of this box absorbing all this propaganda. So when, a couple of years ago, Devon switched over to digital TV, I simply didn't upgrade to a digital TV set. And I stopped paying the licence fee too.

Now all I've got is a radio. And since leaving Devon a couple of months ago, I haven't been listening to that either. But even the radio is fairly heavily propagandised. There was a BBC series last year about historical objects going back thousands of years that I listened to regularly. But they managed to squeeze in something about climate change in Mesopotamia in 2000 BC all the same.

Anyway, now that I'm neither watching TV or listening to the radio (or reading newspapers for that matter), nobody has a direct propaganda channel to me. I'm simply not watching or listening or reading them any more. They can broadcast until they're blue in the face, and I won't hear a word of it.

Pretty much all that I read these days are blogs (including the ones in the right margin), and the comments under them. So any news I get is filtered through blogs. I'm always reading someone else's response to something that's happened. I was, for example, alerted by Captain Ranty to the likelihood that Egypt was going to catch fire last month. I wouldn't have known otherwise.

I think this is an interesting development. I sometimes wonder how many people have just been switching off like I have. I've heard of quite a few. It must be increasingly difficult for the mainstream media to control the news and frame the debate when they're not reaching as many viewers and listeners as they used to. People are getting their news and opinions elsewhere.

But then, "news" is always simply just what somebody somewhere thinks is news. And, towards the end, I often used to wonder why TV newsrooms had selected one item of news above another. I always hated hearing about rapes and murders. They filled me with a sense of horror and powerlessness. I didn't see why I needed to know that someone somewhere has murdered his wife with an axe. It's a profound relief not to have to sit through all those dismal reports any more. And the blogs I read don't report them either.

Equally I never get to hear anything about the royal family, or celebrities, or sport of any sort, and very little of what Cameron or Clegg or the new Labour bloke have said or done. And that's a mercy too. Because I don't want to know what they're doing. Cameron, I've gathered, has been going on about something called the Big Society. I don't know anything about it at all. Or rather, the only thing I do know for sure is that this Big Society thing definitely won't include smokers, and that accordingly I don't want to belong to it, and don't give a damn about it

These days the news I read is about smoking bans, and global warming, and maybe a bit of EU politics. Increasingly, I myself select my own news rather than have it fed to me. After all, there are things that I'm interested in, and things I'm not interested in. And the result is that my news is different from anyone else's news. For instance, I was delighted to read yesterday that the US House of Representatives has voted to de-fund the IPCC, and to refuse to pay the salaries of a bunch of Obama's climate czars, and to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. It has to be ratified by the US senate as well, and if it is Obama will most likely veto it, but all the same is good to see a few politicians making a stand.

The main thing is that I'm getting hard for anyone to propagandise. Before they can convince me, they'll have to convince Leg-iron and DP and Captain Ranty and Bishop Hill and James Delingpole and a whole bunch of other people. Of course, people could say that I'm just being propagandised by different people rather than by the BBC or Channel 4 or the Independent. But the bloggers are all different people, and they don't agree about absolutely everything. So it's next to impossible to construct a consensus, if one doesn't exist already.

Propaganda can really only work with broadcast media like TV or radio or newspapers, where a single message is sent out to thousands or millions of people at the same time. Propaganda is shouted loudly. And that's hard to do on the web, unless something goes viral, and propagates very rapidly. News usually travels relatively slowly on the blogosphere. And it's always being filtered through somebody else's thinking. So a propaganda message is always likely to get neutralised by being repeatedly framed differently.

For example, somebody called Andrew Lansley seems to want people to eat properly, I read over at the Devil just now.

Rather than a “nanny state” approach, he is keen to arm the public with the tools they need to cope in an “obesogenic environment,” where people are bombarded with adverts for unhealthy food.

To which the Devil's immediate response was:

What, in the name of fuck, is an “obesogenic environment”? And why the bastarding hell should I—a 6' tall, 10 and a half stone man—be lectured at by Lansley and his fat fucking fellows?

Lansley's message isn't getting very far, is it? What you learn from the Devil is that some fat bastard is trying to make you eat stuff you don't like. It makes you want to go out and buy a bucket of soggy chips, cover them with salt and ketchup, and spend the evening eating them with your fingers. Lansley's message has not just been neutralised: it's been entirely negated.

And this looks to me like the future. The more the government tries to lecture and bully and propagandise people, the more of them will just switch off. The government may control the mass media, but if fewer and fewer people are listening, their message won't get very far, however loudly they shout. In the end, the government will be forced to give up lecturing people, because it will have become clear to them (as was transparently clear to everybody else from the outset) that it simply isn't working.

And I can't think that would be a bad thing at all.

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I agree 100% Frank. As well as various blogs giving differing analysis of the same topics, the better blogs attract good comments with different perspectives. As such you don't just get the bloggers take on things but a whole range of views on the same topic. This aspect takes blogs as far from propaganda as can be and I really enjoy considering and thinking about all sides of an issue.

A blog that does not allow debate is quickly deleted from my daily read list.

The MSM is the last place I go for information.

Some fun.

Remember how ten years ago thousands put down their religion as Jedi? Well, we have a new census coming up, so let's put down our religion as "smoker." Tobacco Control are leading an inquisition. Let's just highlight that fact.

Whether you want to just deny them the information that they demand from you by force or you just want to raise this issue in public once again and remind them that it is not going away, let's have some fun.
Spread the word.


Mr A

Mr A! I see you got here before me. Sorry to go off topic Frank, and I'm sure Mr A is too, but I feel we really must get this message out - it may be the most significant move we smokers will ever make. Here is my standard message which I am going to append to all my comments.

If you smoke why not declare it as a religion in the next census. Half a million Jedis are now recognised. We can do the same.

Again - sorry for the hijack, Frank, but I'm sure you'll agree its for a good cause (or, as the now discredited ASH might feel "the end justifies the means").

George Speller

I think that a lot of news items are reported for precisely the reasons that you give – because they want people to feel afraid, and powerless, and angry. As you say, why does one story about a person being murdered, or robbed, or raped make the headlines whereas countless others go unmentioned? When you look at such stories (which obviously you don’t any more – very wise!), there’s usually a "useful" element to the authorities in the ones which do get reported. Much of it is about stereotype-reinforcing in one way or another and, until the internet sprang into existence, it was extremely useful in formulating public opinion. It's just a crying shame that the internet wasn’t around in the early days of the anti-smoking movement …….

One reason (amongst others) that the internet is different is because, as you’ve mentioned before, of that capacity to “answer back” if you disagree with something, to ask questions of other people, and to query the writer’s opinions and/or facts/figures/statements which doesn’t occur in the old-fashioned forms of media. Like the commenter above, I simply don’t bother to read blogs or newspaper articles – no matter how good – if they don’t offer the capacity for comments. Nor do I read blogs whereby the writer doesn’t at least sometimes respond to questions, queries or opposing viewpoints. If a person isn’t prepared to extend his opinions, or defend them, or change them, then as far as I’m concerned, in today’s internet-based world his opinions aren’t worth knowing. I’ve got all the time in the world for people who want to debate and exchange opinions, even if I disagree with them; but I’m no longer remotely interested in the views of people who just want to make a speech and then walk away, even when their views and mine happen to coincide on certain things.

I think that more and more people are beginning to think like this. Perhaps it’s the same forces at work that make people smoke more in the face of draconian smoking bans and massive pressure from the authorities to quit than they did beforehand – sick of being “forcibly not listened to” we’re now making active efforts to be listened to by finding alternative means to speak whereby our voices are heard.

We’ve still got a way to go before the internet becomes the major way of the public getting its information, mainly because most people tend to be generally mentally lazy, and getting information from the internet takes a little more time and effort than buying the Sun or clicking on the TV, and, because of the “comments” capability it entails a small degree more responsibility for the formulation of one’s own views – and there are a lot of people in this country who still don’t yet want that responsibility. But I think it’s true that the brightest, most alert people in the country, are starting to get the majority of their information in this way or, when informed of something via the usual media sources will “check it out” on the internet to ascertain the true position, and these are the people of whom the authorities are most fearful. After all, it wasn’t the starving peasants who initiated the French revolution, but the wealthier, thinking classes who had the time and the inclination not just to see that something was desperately wrong, but to work out why. So I think that Internet censorship, whilst difficult to implement, mustn’t be ruled out as impossible, and as such is something to be watched for very, very carefully.

they want people to feel afraid, and powerless, and angry.

Perhaps they do. On the other hand, lots of people seem to want to hear all the bad news they can - perhaps in order to confirm their faith that the human race is horrible.

I’ve got all the time in the world for people who want to debate and exchange opinions, even if I disagree with them; but I’m no longer remotely interested in the views of people who just want to make a speech and then walk away, even when their views and mine happen to coincide on certain things.

Unfortunately, this sort of attitude sees to be very common in the mainstream media, which is almost inherently one-directional. They want to climb on a soapbox and say what they think. They often have a very high opinion of themselves. And they don't give a damn what anyone else thinks.

I think that Internet censorship, whilst difficult to implement, mustn’t be ruled out as impossible, and as such is something to be watched for very, very carefully.

Well, I think that's always the desire to control is one of the primary impulses that drives the totalitarian mind, so they'll probably do their level best. It'll probably be necessary for the sake of the chiiildren, or something.


(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
XX But they managed to squeeze in something about climate change in Mesopotamia in 2000 BC all the same.XX

Similar reasons I had BBC removed from my "cable package", and never listen to World service any more.

They can not go for ten feking MINUTES without squeezing a reference to muslims or the Middle East out, even when, which bacame more and more often, the whole programme is not covering "the subject".

Also the "fitting in" of "suitable people". Report on the Londen stock exchange rate for Newcastle coal being sold to Lancaster? Yes THATS right, a PERFECT opportunity for the BBC to go running to some sand infested Jeddha university, or similar, for a "quote", or an "interview". TOTALY irelevant to the subject, but they MUST squeeze that little shi'ite into any five second slot.

"... They can not go for ten feking MINUTES without squeezing a reference to muslims or the Middle East out, even when, which bacame more and more often, the whole programme is not covering "the subject". ..."

That is how the propaganda worked in Nazi Germany once they had seized total control. The anti-Jewish propaganda in particular permeated all levels of society and could be found embedded into all so-called "news", signage, advertising, even crossword puzzles apparently had clues that the answers would be something totally anti-Semetic. When it became that "normalised", that meant they had infiltrated deep into the German psyche and gotten everyone on board so that the Holocaust could be carried out in broad daylight and nobody would complain or see anything immoral about it.

I imagine they will eventually do much the same with the anti-smoking propaganda, embed it deep within every bit of communication until "normalised", that hatred is morally of good character, when it comes to discriminating and promoting violence against "the smokers".

Imagine the crossword puzzles of the future, if this is allowed to carry on long enough to its "final solution".

#31 Across: Filthy _ _ _ _ _ _ (Answer: Smoker)

#17 Down: Filthy, disgusting and hated. _ _ _ _ _ _ (Answer: Smoker)

#1 Across: Start of phrase expressing puzzle's theme.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
(Answer: SHS is so dangerous that even hurricane winds cannot blow it away.)

That is to the level that Nazi Germany had embedded its propganda, deep into the public conscious, on all levels, even by forcing it into the daily crosswords puzzles.

So you aren't too far off the mark in your description of BBC with it's embedded propaganda stuck into every nonrelated programming material.

Captcha: eotho century

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
I too won't watch t.v. or read a 'news' paper. I started wanting to shout at the t.v. and rip up newspapers a few years ago. I had no choice in what they were saying.
The blogs allow comments that at least give the public a chance to point our lies and misinformation. Even if I don't always agree with the bloggers or commentators, I have a chance to answer.
I do tend to read mainly the bloggers that I agree with, but delight in slagging off the commentators and bloggers that spout crap.
Frank is an honest blogger and 100% 'top man'


I was going to ask about your missing sports on TV; until, I realized that I would much rather watch the local youth and amateur sporting events than the professionals on TV.

Gary K.

I used to watch a bit of football, golf, snooker, and F1 motor racing. I thought I'd miss them, but I didn't, because I didn't know if or when they were on. Same for everything else.


I haven't had TV for about 8 years, and stopped watching it a few years before that. I tend to read DT online with my morning cup of coffee, but skim through most of the crap. The one good thing about DT is that it does have a lively comments section attached to many of the articles, and although it's moderatad, it's not as bad as the Grauniad, which excises anything that doesn't fit their current othordoxy. Blogs are great because they take a news item which then gets dissected and added to by the interested parties. It fleshes out what, in a newspaper / TV news program it just an item presented in the way that that organ wishes to present it.

What did we do before the internet....?

I surround myself with the news for a number of reasons..

Sometimes for a good laugh at the absurdity of it all,
To follow the war (2 sons active duty),
To watch the development of possible union demise,
Current events and museum exhibits, etc

But the main reason I'm a news hound is to get a pulse on the current demographics of propaganda and how it is communicated. I look for the messages underlying the message. To argue any point I must know what is currently out there, the historical background, and probable intervention points. Thus, I need to know my enemy.

Further, if one knows what they hear is propaganda just how susceptible can one be?

If anything good has come out of this smoking ban it has to be that my faith in my fellow man has been restored in the ability of a few to question the status quo. I have seen many from all walks of life begin to think scientifically. The true meaning of correlation is being understood outside of academia and studies are actually being read. Though as a smoker, my American dream has been cruelly snatched away from me, I am heartened that 20% of the population has managed to avoid all that was thrown at them...and that makes me proud.

Very interesting - it seems this ere new Intertube thingy allows people to connect (and feel connected) without having to listen to centrally-controlled sources at all. The loss of status, power, and control for established media can only be disastrous
(from their point of view).

As far as I can see it, the state now has the motive, means,
and opportunity to recruit, en-masse, apparatchiks
whose only role in life is go around the internet trolling
- to make comment/discussion boards such as this less useful, and eventually unworkable. It is only a matter of time before this
starts happening - if it hasn't started already.

"I always hated hearing about rapes and murders. They filled me with a sense of horror and powerlessness. I didn't see why I needed to know that someone somewhere has murdered his wife with an axe."

Phew - I thought it was just me. I've always felt myself to be somehow lacking in humanity when my girlfriend or my sister tells me about the latest dreadful thing that's happened to people whose existence I was previously unaware of, and my response is invariably "I don't want to know".

We are all aware that ghastly random things happen, and always have happened - does knowing the details improve us in any way? Can we personally do anything to stop them happening again? Not in the least - the only effect of gruesome tales is to make us feel, as you say, horrified and powerless. Perhaps that's how the media want us to feel.

Rick S

Hate Propaganda

I rarely watch TV these days, but very late last night I caught the early part of a documentary on BBC3. Called 'The worst place in the world to be gay'(?), it was about the anti-gay laws in Uganda.

It seems being gay is a crime punishable by prison and even execution. The TV and newspapers constantly pump out anti-gay propaganda.

A BBC reporter, who was gay but didn't let on, interviewed a number of people in the street who were unanimous in calling for the prosecution/execution of gays. So the propaganda was clearly working.

He also visited a gay bar. Presumably an unofficial 'gay easy', if that is the right phrase. Speaking to the patrons he found that all of them had been disowned by their families and were unemployable. It wasn't clear if they had been prosecuted in the past or simply outed by others.

A national newspaper (bizarrely - I think it was called 'Rolling Stone') was running a campaign to 'out' gay people and get them fired/prosecuted. The senior editor was very personable and explained that it was a proven fact that being gay would cut 24 years off your life expectancy. So outlawing and then removing gays from society would result in a huge benefit for public health.

I'm not gay myself (why do I feel the need to say that?) and know little of gay rights campaigns. But it was a remarkable demonstration of the power of government/media backed hate propaganda. And a rather familiar instance of 'public health' uber alles mentality.

Just for the record, I strongly believe adults should have the freedom to choose their own lifestyles, gay or otherwise.


That's horrifying. But also something of the mirror image of what's happening with smoking, of course. I looked it up:



Re: Hate Propaganda (Anonymous) Expand

Evading MSM + Propaganda


I didn't start evading it, it came with the territory of my chosen profession - an international peripatetic techie...

I recall in the 80's regular frowning / headscratching sessions particularly at the juxtaposition of BBC domestic vs. World Service and then VoA , Radio Moscow, local newspapers, first hand accounts of events and the evidence of my own eyes.

The difference in the last 15 years in the UK is that it has all got a lot stupider and more strident. The agendas/policies has leached through the MSM via editorial guidelines and the infotainment "product" has become like most mass produced food - but in this case mainly catering for prurience, gossip and "scary shit" - all with the tongue extended to tickle the establishment's bottom.

As others have said - the propaganda's one way traffic - here am I on t'internet - something that still terrifies the BBC (not me, but the medium eh!) The spread of ideas (WUWT), informed discussion (Bishop Hill), first hand reportage(Cap'n Ranty !?!) and many others - can the MSM compete?

Well, of course it could if it wanted to.

And that's my point - they *want* to tell you *what* to think - and the there is a struggle ahead because many in government and their poodles in the meejah can perceive their one way agenda control slipping.

In the UK non TV owners are "de-normalised" by default!

I'd bet a substantial some of money that the BBC are lying about the numbers of TV tax refuseniks and folk who've had enough - like you good self (and me).


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