And then they came for the tanned people, but I did not speak out because of my correction fluid like complexion

The nannies, killjoys, bansturbators and wowsers really are feeling confident. It’s only been a few days since the war on things anyone likes – which I hope we all now realise started with the ‘war’ on smoking, scare quotes because it was never a war but just the opening salvo of something much, much bigger – attacked sugar for being as evil as alcohol or tobacco, and already they’ve shifted fire onto another target on the list. These things:

Half inched from The Daily Mail - click for linky

No, not women in the nip, though give it enough time and I’m sure someone will come up with a vaguely plausible reason. No, the target is sunbeds, and although they’ve had the odd potshot such as age restrictions and talk of tanning taxes sent their way before, this phase of the war on everything that someone somewhere might be enjoying has gone nuclear in a hurry.

Commercial tanning beds will be banned in NSW under radical new laws to be announced by the government today.

NSW will be the only place in the world besides Brazil to institute a total ban on ultraviolet solariums tanning units when the laws come into place from December 31, 2014, and cancer groups hope other states and countries will follow.

Jesus, I can feel the self righteousness from here, the pride in being the only place in the world (besides Brazil – damn Brazilians thinking up this stuff first) to treat sunbeds as another thing reasoning adults can’t be allowed to make up their own minds about. No, New South Welshies, because some people get skin cancer and because some of them spend enough time on a sunbed to look like an overdone chip your state government has decided you can’t be trusted to weigh up the risks yourselves and has decided for you. This, in case anyone outside Australia is wondering, is a right of centre Liberal (In Name Only) government, and being as how the Liberal party here is often pretty illiberal and appears to have no interest in individual freedom how the fuck they get away with calling themselves the Liberal Party without every dictionary in Australia bursting into flame is beyond me. A party whose name references the concept of freedom taking freedom away from people, shredding and pulping it, and then pressing it into rolls to be hung up in the toilets of Parliament House.

And of course being a right of centre party you’d think, or I’m sure they’d very much like you to think, that they’re the friends of the entrepreneur and small businesses. Like shit are they. A unilateral ban on a whole fucking industry? Seriously?

The ban is likely to save lives but could put some NSW solariums – which pay about $30,000 for new tanning beds – out of business.

You think? What else does a tanning salon do apart from offer people the facility to get tanned? As far as I can see the idea is you find a site, fill it with a decent number of these machines at thirty grand a pop, and open the doors. Yes, they could diversify, but when the state government is banning the bloody machines on which the whole enterprise effectively rests then diversifying seems to mean not actually being a tanning salon anymore. I suppose the spray on tan is an option for the time being, but just as they’ve come for the smokers, the drinkers, the salad dodgers, the sweet toothed and the strangely bronze they will eventually come for the Oompa Loompas, and they’ll no more care that you’re taller than the average Oompa Loompa than they did that most wine drinkers manage not to drink themselves insensible every night. And with the anti-sugar assault raging you’ll probably be accused of war crimes for working in that chocolate factory.

Even if that doesn’t happen right away a ban on commercial tanning machines is going to affect the trade like a ban on professional woodworking tools would affect furniture making, except for the fact that you can’t just walk outside and sit in the park for an hour to get a free nest of tables. And even something as catastrophically dim as a politician seems able to understand this.

The Environment Minister, Robyn Parker, chose World Cancer Day to make her announcement, saying sun beds were carcinogenic and the International Agency for Research on Cancer had placed them in the same category of risk as asbestos. “Sadly, Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world and this ban is long overdue,” she said.

There are about 100 businesses with 254 commercial tanning units registered in NSW, and about 10 per cent offer UV tanning exclusively. That group would be offered help through the Department of Trade and Investment’s business advisory services, Ms Parker said.

Lucky NSW taxpayers. Your government has just made more than $7,500,000 of equipment next to worthless unless shipped interstate and kicked a hundred tax paying businesses, not a single one of which will have dragged people off the street and forced them onto the sunbeds, in the teeth. But the government is going to ‘help’ them, which I suspect will mean giving them money..

Oh, but it’ll save lives so it’ll be worth it, right? Aaaaaaand cue the cancer victim:

Jay Allen, a melanoma survivor who led the campaign for the ban, said he was “over the moon”.

“This is for all the people who have lost their life to melanoma, all the people living with melanoma,” he said. “It’s going to save many, many lives.”

No, Jay, it won’t. I understand why you want to believe that, but it won’t and here’s why.

Like almost every risky activity you can think of the dangers involved are either patently obvious or so regularly rammed down everyone’s throats via PSAs in print and broadcast media that to be unaware you’d have to have spent the last two or three decades in either a cave or a coma. Christ, I heard of ‘Slip Slop Slap’ twenty years before I even came here. It’s a very safe assumption that those who still want a tan have heard about the risks and have decided they’re prepared to chance it, and if they’re adults nobody else should have a problem with that. And having decided the risk is worth it do you think they’ll just accept being pale when you take away all the tanning machines? Or do you think that they’ll just go and get a free tan under an infinitly more powerful UV source outside?

The point of tanning machines – and I’m assuming because I’ve never used one and don’t plan to – is that people pay money to cook themselves under power as alternative to the free, but supposedly even more dangerous, alternative of cooking themselves under the harsh Aussie sun instead. Are tanning beds safe? I have absolutely no idea but I don’t expect so, but if they’re likely to do less harm than a natural suntan then banning them seems the height of idiocy. And if you can prove they do more harm than a natural suntan then banning is unnecessary – just publicise it so tan-wannabes will go outside and tanning machines will go the way of the dinosaur. Even is some people carry on using them that’s their choice, no one else’s.

[Chief Exec of Cancer Council Australia, Ian Olver] said governments paid for cancers caused by sunbeds so they had a right to ban them.

No they don’t. They can stop paying for cancers caused by sunbeds and tell the strangely brown to buy health insurance, but I don’t see that they have any right to involve themselves in the business of consenting adults, doubly so when they physically can’t stop people tanning simply because someone who wants a tan will do what it takes to get one. There’s simply no way you can stop them without introducing a daytime curfew, and I don’t think I need to explain what that would do to the NSW economy. The tourist trade alone would be wrecked – come to sunny Sydney (viewing available only by night).

So the long and short of it is that this will likely wreck businesses and cost taxpayers’ money for close to bugger all benefit, but Jeez the New South Wales Righteous will have the biggest warm fuzzy about it.

And, tanlovers, with your healthy (for a given value of healthy) bronzed and toned bodies, I can only add that you were warned. You were told again and again and again and again – do not believe the anti-smoking campaigners when they say it’s just smoking they want to control. But you did, just as so many non-smokers who drink or whose waistlines or diets or levels of physical activity don’t meet proscribed norms, and as they’re all finding out it was a fucking lie. It was not just smoking, smoking was just the start. And it isn’t just that the tactics and propaganda are the same but with smoking changed to read alcohol, fat, sugar, caffeine or tanning – quite often the same bloody people are involved as well. For example, from Velvet Glove, Iron Fist on Jan 28th.

The Guardian recently kicked off the campaign for plain packaging this week with an interview with that sad old sociologist Simon Chapman who seems to think that the tobacco industry finds him fascinating:

“They dislike me intensely because of my prominence and persistence. But I also confuse them because I’m very against the censorship and rating of films because of their tobacco content.”

“Hey, look at me—I’m only half-mad!”

[…]

Chapman is very proud that the Australian supernanny state has banned e-cigarettes and snus, for example—these people should be in a smokefree prison cell.

And from Dick Puddlecote just a couple of days ago:

I’ve said before that you’re going to hear some incredibly desperate justification for plain packaging in the coming months. In this 54 second campaign video, for example, is an absolute pearler from Australian Head woe-warbler, Simon Chapman.

Apparently, it’s perfectly reasonable to stop an industry from using their historical trademarks … because Islamic countries prohibit alcohol.

Simon Chapman and Simon Chapman. Hmmm, familiar sounding name… where’ve I heard it before? Oh, yes, of course! It was right there in the article about New South Wales banning commercial tanning machines.

A professor of public health at the University of Sydney, Simon Chapman, said: “Solaria are cancer incubators and we have known that for a good while”.

Do you see? Do you understand? Is the penny or your local equivalent dropping yet? These people are absolutely obsessed and they will never, ever, ever be satisfied. It doesn’t matter if you don’t smoke, it doesn’t matter if you drink only very moderately or even not at all, it doesn’t matter if you eat the way they want you to eat and exercise as much as they want you to exercise, and it doesn’t matter if you put on factor 30+ with a four inch brush and stay indoors until the sun’s nearly set. None of it matters because like every other human on the planet you will do something that you enjoy, and even if it doesn’t harm another living soul I guarantee you this: someone somewhere disapproves and wants you to stop, and they’re invariably prepared to use force if you fail to obey.

It’s them and us, folks. If you can live and let live then you’re one of us, and it’s time you woke up and realised that the choice is to hang together or hang separately. And if you see something that annoys you and think to yourself, “Oooh, there ought to be a law against people doing that”, then you’re one of them, and it’s time you were told:

Fuck you all. Fuck you right in the lungs.

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Posted on February 7, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Thank-you Thank-you for writing a post about this, i have been waiting for someone to do it and you did it with ease 🙂

  2. Hold up. Tanning salons? In Australia? I thought you chaps south of the tropics had endless days of natural sunshine.

    Mind you, that’s like saying everything North of the 49th parallel is permanently snowbound.

    It’s still a bloody silly law. Perhaps it’ll just drive the remaining NSW tanning salons underground. Knock twice, pay your money, there’s a couple of rooms in the basement sort of thing. No questions asked.

    • Funny you saying that. NSW has had a pretty weak summer so far. Lots of rain and some flooding up in the north (QLD again too, and they haven’t finished tidying up from last year’s floods yet), fewer sunny days and generally cooler than usual. Not that you need the sun as you can easily burn on an overcast day here, more easily if it’s windy because the breeze cools you and you don’t notice that you’ve started to cook.

      But yes, a bloody silly law and straight out of the standard politicians’ we-must-do-something-this-is-something-let’s-do-it handbook. I can just picture the underground tanning salons (taneasies?) though. Perhaps they’d combine with Leg-iron style smoky-drinkies.

  3. If you’d ever watched someone you love be slowly paralysed and then die in agony by having their bones eaten alive by this disease, you might feel a little bit differently.

    • Kaye, I don’t think I’ve got the point across to you here. You’re focussed on the narrow issue of skin cancer, even though I’ve pointed out that banning tanning machines won’t reduce it noticeably when it remains possible to stand in the sunshine and get a tan for free. The broader issue is that of personal freedom, yours, mine and everybody else’s.

      I’ve also lost someone to cancer, also largely self inflicted through lifestyle choice, and it was fucking horrible. Does it make me wish they hadn’t chosen to live as they did so they were still around? Yeah, sure, because I miss them (which is a selfish reason) and because even though everyone’s got to go sometime I’d say better not to have gone the way they did (which is selfless but still ignores their rights to make their own choices in life). So does the fact that my loved one drank themselves into the oncology department give me the right to say that you can’t have a glass of wine? If you run a bottle shop or a pub does it give me the right to close down your business? No, no it does not. I can voice my opinion that this or that is bad for you and that you should alter your lifestyle choices, but it’s your body, not mine – my feelings of loss grant me no rights over what you choose to do to it.

      What it comes down to is this: can we bear to let adults make these decisions for themselves knowing that some people will make decisions that are, in our opinion, wrong or are we justified in exercising power over people and their bodies and their lives for their own good? And if the latter, which is clearly the way western societies have gone, where do we stop? Experience suggests it will not stop simply because in a world with 7 billion other people there will always be someone somewhere doing something which isn’t good for them, so there will always be a reason to take the freedom to do it away for their own good and never mind that the end result is everyone living in a gilded cage.

      Today it’s sunbeds and sugar, before that it was fatty food and alcohol, before that smoking, and before that it was pot and opium and the rest. And of course before that it was alcohol again, which the Yanks did indeed ban to disastrous effect. Tomorrow… well, we can only speculate, but looking at the number of things we cannot do in most or all western societies despite them affecting nobody but ourselves – things we could do when I was a child or that our parents or grandparents were free to do in their time – I’d say that if we do nothing our use of private and public transport will eventually be limited to force us on foot and ensure that we take sufficient exercise, that there will be a daylight curfew to ensure that we don’t get too much sun but also a mandated minimum exposure for vitamin D, and that what we eat will be determined for us daily to ensure our correct nutrition – much as we do with farm animals today. And of course Daisy the cow does not own her own body at all. Right now neither do you or I, at least not entirely and even less so in NSW from 2015 on. The more decisions the state takes away from us the less we will own ourselves and the more the state (upper or lower case S) will own us instead.

      I’ll leave you with this remark of Thomas Jefferson’s: “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.”

    • Skin cancer is no laughing matter, but to completely ban sunbeds because a few over use them and make themselves ill seems rather an over-reaction.

      Oh and FYI: I’ve watched more people die of nasty diseases than I care to think about. One or two were preventable, most of the others a cruel twist of genetic predisposition, but I never thought that banning anything would make a spit of difference to the lives so prematurely ended.

  4. For fuck’s sake, Kaye. Would you prefer rickets?

    The tradition at school every Monday was to slap someone who’d inevitably caught too much sun. If you had any brains, you’d wear a hat and a long-sleeved shirt when you were outside on a bright day.

    Even so, being a sailor, I’d always get some Hiroshima-style tanning when the SPF15 had been worn off. Ah well.

    The gripe here is that the government has to get involved. It’s kind of ironic that a dark complexion has long been associated with poverty – wealthy people do not labour in the fields. If someone is conceited enough to want her skin turned to leather, why not? If she dies prematurely, that’s one pension I shall not be funding, and don’t forget – she is going to die of something anyway.

    That you are so prepared to sacrifice a freedom – ultra-violet rays for God’s sake – makes it patently clear that you will ban anything that doesn’t appeal to you. You want us all to be like you. A vinegar-titted, cat’s-arsed-mouthed nag.

    And on the subject of tits, they should be lopped off as soon as they have been used, because they are a CANCER RISK.

  5. Perfectly stated!

  6. You know, the other day when this was announced on the news I thought, well tanning beds are totally pointless and the low level UV they put out has been linked to cancer.

    This was just after a few days before that when I was thinking about how all of these bans and infringements on liberties are predicated on the fact that there are never enough people who care to protest and prevent the assault on liberty that they represent.

    Just goes to show that we can all benefit from the opinions of others.

  7. “It’s them and us, folks. If you can live and let live then you’re one of us, and it’s time you woke up and realised that the choice is to hang together or hang separately. And if you see something that annoys you and think to yourself, “Oooh, there ought to be a law against people doing that”, then you’re one of them, and it’s time you were told.”

    Dead right. It needs saying over and over and over again.

  8. Melanoma’s at the centre of the witch hunt, but melanoma isn’t something you ‘catch’ from using a sunbed. Thousands of people who have never used a sunbed get diagnosed with melanoma. Beats me how these cancer studies can actually attribute that some of those people got it naturally, from the sun, but yep, these ‘few’ who used a sunbed, must have got it from the sunbed. Why does that figure? What needs to be proven is whether those same sunbed users would have still got melanoma if they’d never used a sunbed. Also interesting to note that the big ‘scare’ is that tanning beds have been classified as a grade one carcinogen – but hang on, the sun has also been classified as a grade one carinogen too ! Now . . If you get lung cancer from smoking, how would you know which brand of cigarettes were the culprit ?

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