The march of intolerance grinds on…

… and the talk now is of not being free from persecution even in your own home.

Scoff if you like about improbability of home smoking bans. How they would not only be unfair but unenforceable. Dismiss the concept as ridiculous.

Huff and puff about civil liberties, individual freedom of choice and the home being the family castle. Thump the table about government interference and intervention. About the spidery intrusion of the nanny state. But ignore the looming reality at your peril. The smokers’ nagging fear, that their final bastion will be invaded by smoke police, is already here.

The Cancer Council of South Australia says home smoking bans are a genuine possibility.

“As people’s awareness and understanding of the harm of second hand tobacco smoke increases, expectation is growing that there be no smoke in shared places,” the Council’s Chief Executive, Professor Brenda Wilson says.

“It’s entirely possible and even probable that people sharing apartment blocks will want those to be smoke-free too here in Australia.”

Backdoor criminalisation, cry some, pointing to the existing ban on smoking in any kind of business and increasing numbers of smoke free areas out doors. And it’s true that attacking smoking in people’s homes will mean it’s illegal to smoke almost everywhere, though of course the dilemma for governments is that while they really want to be seen to tackle smoking they don’t want to be without the tax revenue and know damn well that the rest of us will kick up about increased taxes if we have to make up the difference. And don’t kid yourself, governments make more from tobacco tax than even the anti-tobacco crowd claim smoking costs society. Give all that up? Not in a hurry, though they’ll continue to make life as difficult as possible for those who still smoke, the poor bastards.

But as I’ve mentioned before, a rather nasty side effect has been the creation of a wave of hatred directed at smokers. They’ve been denormalised and dehumanised and demonised, and this wasn’t so much a bug as a feature, a needed step to prevent the rest of us shrugging and saying ‘oh, they’re not harming us, just let them smoke in peace.’ That wouldn’t achieve anything so every cough, tickly throat, headache, asthma attack and feeling of nausea that could conceivably be blamed on tobacco smoke had to be blamed on tobacco smoke, all so that one minority – the anti smoking authoritarians – could use the majority to pressure and cajole and eventually impose their will on another minority.

The hatred that this has generated for smokers chills my soul. Dick Puddlecote has a collection of more extreme examples of hatred and bile aimed at anyone who smokes and you don’t have to look far for more. On news.com.au’s page reporting the possibility of home smoking bans there are plenty more.

I would love this to happen here. The neighbour below me is a chain smoker and on days where I have to open my windows, I will get all the noxious fumes. For those like me who live in public housing. Isn’t it up to the government to make sure tenants live in safety especially according to OH & S rules?

[In response to an earlier comment complaining about the infringement of rights] you’re making a big assumption there. Smokers have no rights.

Yay! Does this mean I might be able to open my apartment windows without the cloud of my neighbours’ cancer-ridden smoke wafting in at all hours of day and night? It’s not before time. Why not go the whole way and just place tobacco on the long list of dangerous chemicals not available to the general public?

How about a federal order that all non-smokers be permitted a loaded water pistol to extinguish smokers cigarettes?

Yes! About time. I used to live in Liverpool in an apartment and my neighbours used to smoke on their balcony… the smoke would drift into my apartment so i’d have to leave the door closed making my place stuffy… then i would find half a dozen butts on my balcony where they insisted on littering! I couldn’t even sit on my balcony without smelling it… i agree it should be banned from balcony’s of apartments at least.

Fantastic – bring it on ! We have a smoker who lives in the apartment underneath and the stench from his smoking is nauseating. You can smell it whether you have the windows open or shut , and sitting on the balcony is not enjoyable when he lights up ! A filthy habit !

I wish they would just make it illegal

[…] Smoking is the least private vice and no-one should have a right to do it anywhere but in a sealed box.

20 years over due – bring it on!!! so over the filty smell – its gross and australia wide ban is next!!!!

Smokers have absolutly no rights, They are second class citizens IMO. […]

Die deutsche Frau raucht nicht!

Oh, sorry, that last one is from Nazi Germany. Can’t imagine how it snuck in there, but it is kind of appropriate. Not because old Adolf was the driving force behind the world’s first anti-smoking campaign but because denormalisation, dehumanisation and demonisation was the Nazis’ stock in trade. Just re-read those comments and mentally amend them so that references to smokers and smoking are references to Jews, communists or gypsies. And consider that in the minds of these hateful little authoritarians the program to control other people and reshape them into an more approved form is never over.

I don’t smoke, or at least not any more, so the first wave of marching boots isn’t interested in me. I don’t drink either (something else Adolf would have approved of, the miserable little shite) so the next wave is marching straight past as well. I hear the marching boots all the time these days, though as yet they’ve never marched all the way up to my door. But among other things I do like to eat meat, I put sugar in my tea and coffee, I could lose a couple of kilos, I drive a fast car, am not carbon neutral and refuse to do anything out of the ordinary for Dirt Hour. For these and possibly other reasons, some of which I can guess at and others which may not yet have been identified as incorrect behaviour to be denormalised, I know all too well that one day I can expect to hear the marching boots stop right outside, followed by an aggressive knock on the door.

I hope to put that day off indefinitely, but if it happens I know that at least I’ll have the sympathy of smokers and drinkers because I’ve stuck up for them. The commenters above don’t yet realise it but even though they’ve been helping the boots eventually they’re going to come marching for them too. Who knows why but there’ll be something, some way in which they don’t quite conform to the someone’s ideal. And even though they’re being such a bunch of illiberal, bullying arseholes I’ll sympathise with them and stick up for them too when their turn comes, just as I do for the smokers and rinkers. Or at least I would do apart from the fact that the smokers and drinkers and I will all be gone by then.

As Niemöller warned, there’ll be nobody left to speak up for them.

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Posted on April 19, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on The march of intolerance grinds on….

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