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Politics of the first resort

I wish I could say that I find the reaction of this politician surprising.

Google has refused to explain why it paid just $74,176 in Australian tax last year, despite making an estimated $1 billion in revenue from the Australian market.

The opposition communications spokesman, Malcolm Turnbull, said yesterday the growing digital economy was creating headaches for lawmakers. He said corporate giants like Google were able to generate billions in revenue within Australia, ”much of it at the expense of local media outlets”, but pay minimal tax by creating subsidiary offices in low-taxing foreign jurisdictions.

For readers outside Australia note that this is the opposition communications spokesman here – Malcolm Turnbull is a member of, and has even been the leader of, what persists in calling itself the Liberal Party in the absence of any real interest in liberty that I can see. To answer the implied question, it’s called the global marketplace, Malc, and this is no more than an indication that Australia’s tax regime is sadly uncompetitive. Instead of getting your cock in a knot about the relatively small dollar amounts of tax that Google and Facebook pay here why not consider why it is that these companies do not choose to pay the bulk of their tax in Australia. I’m guessing that it’s something to do with them preferring to pay tax at 15% in the Irish Republic than pay at 30% here.

Now it strikes me that we could piss and moan about it, we could talk about changing the tax laws and generally fight like hell to avoid doing anything as simple as matching or beating the Irish on tax rates and the general desirability of running large parts of an international business here. We could do that… Or we could start by just looking at the dollar value Google paid the Irish taxman at Irish rates. Because if it’s more than $74,176 – and I reckon it will be substantially more – it would seem to suggest that you’d get more out of them by making Australia a more tempting place to pay tax than Ireland.

You see, Malc, and it really pains me to have to explain this to a member of a party whose website says (my bold):

We believe…

* In … a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative
* In government that nurtures and encourages its citizens through incentive, rather than putting limits on people through the punishing disincentives of burdensome taxes and the stifling structures of Labor’s corporate state and bureaucratic red tape.
[…]
* In … the encouragement and facilitation of wealth so that all may enjoy the highest possible standards of living, health, education and social justice.
[…]

In short, we simply believe in individual freedom and free enterprise…

You see, Malcolm, if taxes are a necessary evil then in this modern world where companies can establish their operations wherever it’s most profitable nations are in competition for taxpayers, and the more successful governments in that competition may not be the ones that take the biggest slice of their GDP pie but the ones who realise that a smaller slice of a much larger pie is actually a greater quantity of pie. The Australian Tax Office, and it seems both main parties in Canberra if Malcolm Turnbull’s an indication, are more concerned with the size of the government’s slice than the size of the pie, and as long as that holds I expect Google, Farcebook and others will continue to choose countries such as Ireland as their preferred nations in which to pay much of their taxes.

Not just the UK where the main political parties are largely alike. Why is being competitive the last resort even of a nominally liberal politician?

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.

Rules were made to be made.

It’s been said that when you create a legislature you can expect it to legislate but you’ll have your work cut out trying to make it stop. Via Thoughts On Freedom, the depressing news that the government of Australia now creates more legislation a year than it managed in the half century following federation in 1901. They’ve got a graph too.  Aside from the fact that it nearly made me bite through my keyboard in frustration it looks like the peak was about 9,000 pages of legislation in the early years of the Howard government. Yes, the Liberal Party that, as I’m forced to note with depressing regularity, has a lot of difficulty with the definition of the word.

Liberal

Adjective
1. Showing or characterized by broad-mindedness; “a broad political stance”; “generous and broad sympathies”; “a liberal newspaper”; “tolerant of his opponent’s opinions”.
2. Having political or social views favoring reform and progress.
3. Tolerant of change; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition.
4. Given or giving freely; “was a big tipper”; “the bounteous goodness of God”; “bountiful compliments”; “a freehanded host”; “a handsome allowance”; “Saturday’s child is loving and giving”; “a liberal backer of the arts”; “a munificent gift”; “her fond and openhanded grandfather”.
5. Not literal; “a loose interpretation of what she had been told”; “a free translation of the poem”.

Noun
1. A person who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties.
2. A person who favors an economic theory of laissez-faire and self-regulating markets.

Yep, 9,000 pages of legislation that either tells people what they must do, may not do, can’t have, need to apply for, or have to pay extra if you want more than one of it. Liberal? In what fucking way are The Liberals liberal? At least dealing with Labor can be hard work but the Liberals seem to have just picked out a name they liked and ignored what the bloody word actually means. Were they ever really liberal? Any Australian readers know?

G’day and Kraft durch Freude.

No smoking sign at Dachau concentration camp

As Dick Puddlecote noted recently, there’s a depressing kind of bansturbatory oneupmanship going on between the respective healthists, nannys, Big Pharma tit leeches and governments of the UK and Australia. It’s like there’s some competition going on, perhaps with a little trophy at stake. The Fag Ashes, maybe.

Dick Puddlecote notes:

Anything else up your sleeve, Anne? [Anne Milton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Public Health), Health; Guildford, Conservative]

Also, the Australian Government have announced their intention to introduce a legislative requirement for the plain packaging of tobacco to commence on 1 January 2012. The evidence supporting their action is summarised in the technical report “Australia: the healthiest country by 2020-Technical report 2 Tobacco Control in Australia”.

She’s not wrong, you know. The Aussies have most definitely done that. And their reason for doing so (page 2)?

If we act quickly, Australia can overtake the British Government and become the first country in the world to mandate that cigarettes be sold in plain packaging.

That’s right. It’s a global game of ‘keeping up with the Joneses‘.

Who cares if there isn’t any evidence? It’s all about bragging rights and dick-waggling, isn’t it. Oh yes it is.

Oh, yes indeed, my poor old dismembered chum, yes indeed. Never mind evidence based policy, and Christ knows that’s a fucking rare beast indeed these days. And never mind even policy based evidence. This is just doing something because someone else has said they going to do it, and the thought that they might have the bragging rights for being first is risking loss of bansturbatory erections.

And on a practical matter I’m confused by the Australian boner for plain packaging. I really am. Not only because the whole thing seems preposterous – who spends five minutes gazing at the packet while smoking a cigarette instead of enjoying the taste? – but because for the life of me I can’t see what the fuck is the point of plain packets when they’re already banned from display in most of the country (with strong hints that other states will soon fall into line). Oh yes, Victoria joined in with this lunacy on Jan 1st this year, though I have to point out that they are not quite as insane as the Australian Capital Territory which has gone as far as applying their law to tobacconists as well. Yes, folks, it’s true, despite it making as much sense as banning Ikea from displaying furniture. It’s a fucking tobacconist. If you don’t want to see then don’t go in the fucking shop.

WHERE the wall of cigarettes once stood behind chocolates and sweets is now a plain white cupboard, big and bland. Smoking here looks about as sexy as office furniture.

Again I feel I have to explain that smokers enjoy the taste of cigarettes and really don’t give a second hand shit what the displays or packets look like. Those who no longer enjoy the taste will quit no matter what the packets or displays look like. Understand? It’s about the smoking itself. Fuck’s sake, look at all those people in Britain and Ireland buying smuggled baccy and all those people smoking chop-chop here. No advertising, no displays, no point of sale material and possibly, actually definitely in the case of chop-chop, no branded packaging. And it seems as if that business is booming. If displays and packaging were important that illicit trade shouldn’t be going up, yes? But having chosen to believe that you can become addicted to nicotine by looking at the fucking packets and hidden the horror of branded tobacco packaging behind a combination of curtains, shutters and doors, what then did the Victorian government expect to gain from making the packets themselves plain?

Gone from sight are the bright packs coloured red, gold and alpine blue. Gone, too, are the matching photos of blackened lungs, fatty white arteries and gangrened toes.

But… but… but they were the hard hitting images that were supposed to make everyone quit. Could this be a tacit admission that they were as useful as an underwater cigarette lighter? If not why not put them up on the doors? It’s not like a it can be about hiding the cigarette kiosks because they’re instantly identifiable to everyone, smokers and non-smokers alike, and not just because we can all remember being able to see the packets there a couple of months ago.

Cigarettes were hidden by roller doors and drawers inside convenience stores, service stations and supermarkets. A city kiosk draped black shrouds over its stock, as if in mourning.

Don’t be so fucking silly. It’s probably just the cheapest way they found to comply with the legislation.

A South Yarra corner store kept its cigarettes inside a grey cupboard next to an open display of bongs – which the government plans to ban as well.

This is the new Coalition state government, led by a party which has the cojones to call itself The Liberals. Yes, I know. I will pause for a moment while you wipe whatever you were drinking off your monitor (and it better not be coffee because that’s coming up on the bansturbators’ list).

And in case you were wondering whether the Liberals In Name Only were merely too lazy to stop this ridiculous exercise in fagophobia the answer is no, the pricks supported it (my bold).

Health Minister David Davis said local and state health officers would help retailers comply with the new legislation, which won bipartisan support in 2009.

Now all this is bad enough but some local councils are going further, including one not far from here. Nearly a year ago I blogged on Frankston council’s banning smoking in an outdoor shopping precinct, and now Port Phillip Council are targeting outdoor café areas (and a couple of good comments there for DP’s dribbling psychos thread).

OUTLAWING smoking in outdoor dining areas could be on the menu for Port Phillip as pressure from anti-smoking campaigners mounts.

They’re eating areas you see, and there’s the possibility that someone might imagine that someone else near them has some cigarettes and feel slightly queasy at the thought (Nth hand smoke – becoming ill due to the knowledge that tobacco exists, known previously as worrying yourself sick).

Port Phillip mayor Rachel Powning said smoking had been banned on Port Phillip beaches since December and there may be support to ban it from alfresco dining areas when the issue is discussed at council this year.

Look, outside one of two things happen. The first is if it’s blowy, which means the smoke disperses very quickly and you need to be sitting right next to the smoker to get a face full. There are various solutions for the rabid fagophobe here. My preference is simply to move away and the problem is solved, but if that’s not an option find another café where the owner, not the government, has asked his customers not to smoke – if the demand is there from all the fagophobes wanting absolutely no smoking anywhere near them then there will certainly be some. Or, and this is going to be a little radical, you could find a non-smoking area in the café you’re in. Like maybe fucking everywhere indoors since you succeeded in getting all the smokers turfed outside, you selfish, joyless bastards. The second scenario is if it’s a still day and the smoke goes straight up in the air, in which case you need literally to be hovering over the poor sod and deserve everything you get.
YOU DO NOT NEED TO BAN ANYTHING ELSE, GOT IT?

Honestly, if smoking’s that bad just do what Bhutan did and fucking ban it. Not all these half hearted bans that add up to making life difficult, but actually say that from whatever date smoking or possession of tobacco will no longer be legal. Come on, what have you got to lose? A few billion dollars in tax revenue? Well you’re losing increasing amounts to illegal tobacco anyway, and besides isn’t this supposed to be about saving people? So, an outright ban then? Criminalisation, who’s for it?

Anyone?

Fuck me, it’s gone quiet all of a sudden. Apart from some Tasmaniacs this isn’t a high priority. The thing is, and I’ve said this many times, governments are far more addicted to the revenue than any smoker ever was to nicotine. And Quit, A$H and the various health departments, would they really like it banned? One or two of the less unreasonable ones might say that they wouldn’t go that far because they’re not about taking away people’s right to choose, but I suspect that deep down many of the most foam-mouthed of them wouldn’t either. Smoking is their raison d’être, a cause to stoke their self righteous little fires (smokeless, natch) and a whipping boy without which they have no power. Come on, they’d miss the pontificating on what everyone else must do. Instead they’ve whipped up such a storm of fagophobia that they’ve successfully inserted themselves and their tedious little authoritarian wank fantasies into ever increasing facets of everyone else’s private lives. They have set themselves to rule over private businesses, public transport, indoor areas and now outdoor areas. They’ve gone after people who smoke as well as the act of smoking, and have expressed a desire to ban it in private homes just like they’ve begun to in private cars. And do you know who’s lead they’re following? Can you guess the first group to advocate banning smoking in cars?

Yep, the fucking Nazis.*

They came first for the smokers, and I did not speak because I wasn’t a smoker
Then they came for the drinkers, and I remained silent because I did not drink
And then they came for the salad dodgers, and said nothing because I quite like a plate of greens

When they finally came for me there was no one left to speak up.

Can you hear the marching boots? Can you? I can hear them from where I am because Australia seems determined to win at least The Fag Ashes, especially as Britain is pulling ahead on points units on bashing drinkers. But if like me you don’t smoke or drink and can’t hear the boots yet, no worries. You’ll be probably be able to hear them soon enough, and that it’s not about killing us so much as controlling us really shouldn’t be any comfort at all.

* I know just about enough to work out that that poster isn’t actually about banning smoking in cars but I’m not sure what it does say. Seems to be something about how many millions of Reichmarks it was costing the Germans but if you can translate it properly please leave it in the comments and I’ll tack it on the end of the post. 

Denormalisation and the march of hatred.

Over at Leg-iron’s there’s a post on discrimination in which he says:

“You cannot, so far, tell who we are unless we’re actually smoking but that’s going to change. We will be made identifiable. Third hand smoke will be the excuse.”

Which prompted me to write in the comments,

Perhaps some sort of yellow star motif? It’ll make aiming easier when the time comes…

I don’t say that lightly since I have Jewish neighbours that I like and respect, and obviously what’s going on has yet to reach Shoah proportions (and we should all very much hope that it never does) but all the same the parallels are disturbing. While some may be prepared to live and let live those who believe they are in the right – the Righteous, to use Leg-iron’s expression – make no room, sometimes literally no room, for those who disagree.

Not “Smoking is not allowed”. It’s actual smokers who are not allowed

And it doesn’t stop there either. Smokers can be discriminated against when it comes to employment etc. too (see here, here, here and, from the US, this), all of which, it has been decided, is perfectly legal. Note again that like the sign above it is not merely the activity which is banned but the people who do it. Look at the sign again. Now look at this one.

See? Unwanted activities are being prohibited, but the implication is that the people who skateboard, ride bicycles or go rollerblading are okay to be there as long as they don’t do those activities. The first sign says no smokers, full stop, end of discussion. No credit is given for being a smoker who is currently not smoking and for all anyone knows will refrain from lighting up until they’re elsewhere. The message is aimed at the people, not their pastime. Smoker? Sod off.

Now it might be suggested that in fact this is just exercising property rights and that property owners are entitled not only to prohibit smoking – as I do in my home, being an ex-smoker* – but also to make smokers themselves unwelcome. It might also be suggested that an employer should be able to hire whoever the hell they like without being under any obligation to justify that decision. And since I’m all for the freedom to make personal choices I’d tend to agree with both, except for two sticking points. First, the reverse does not apply – you are not allowed to discriminate in favour of smokers and you have no say in this, property rights notwithstanding. You may own your business premises lock, stock and barrel but you may not encourage all the smokers driven from other establishments to come to your place to smoke and spend to their hearts’ content. You have no choice and no rights over your property in regards to smoking. None at all. If you don’t want smokers you may think you’re free to choose but this is just an illusion brought about by the fact that your wishes and those of the Righteous are aligned on this point. Just wait, they’ll get around to something you do do or are in favour of sooner or later.

Second, any other kind of discrimination against a group probably would be illegal. Remember the No Blacks, No Irish signs? I don’t. They went in my infancy, if not before. And before anyone suggests that smoking is a choice whereas you can’t help your skin colour or nation of birth please bear in mind that religion is also a choice and you can’t discriminate against that either. Don’t believe me? Go put a job ad up and include something saying Muslims, Jews and Hindus need not apply and see what happens. Go on, I’ll wait while you get a pen ….. oh, you’ll be fined, will you? Breaking the law, is it? But you might conceivably want to put something like that if the position was for a slaughterman and you didn’t want anyone who might refuse to deal with pigs or cows on religious grounds (though my advice would be simply to state “must be willing to slaughter and butcher all kinds of livestock”), and the fact is you can’t. Smoking though, well, it seems you can put “Smokers Need Not Apply” and that’s just fine, even though religion and how seriously to take it is as much a personal choice as smoking. Any way you choose to look at it smokers are a special case in that they, and not simply the activity of smoking, can be targets for discrimination that is largely unacceptable if not illegal in most other areas of life.

And it’s not just the legal treatment that sets them aside. Look at the hate and bile being spat at smokers these days. Dick Puddlecote has a nice collection going, and here are a few examples (spelling left as the DP found it):

…let’s have free loaded pistols for use by these smokers there too so that they can end their pathetic lives…

[Smokers] have the right to die. That’s it.

Pubs … can certainly survive without smokers. I hope the cold winter kills a few more off in fact

Smokers need to have the words, STUPID IDIOT across their foreheads!

Yellow star! Yellow star! You just need to cross out “Jude” first.

SMOKERS, PLEASE die from diseases from cigarettes sooner rather than later, so there will be less of you around, stinking up every place you go.

You are second-class citizens. If you don’t like it, move. I don’t want you here anyway.

We should do them a favor and give them a quick clean bullet through the head.

I want all smoker dead, but especially morning smokers and any one who smokes on campus. DIE!!

Smokers scum of the Earth, a cull next.

They deserve to be robbed.

I have always looked down at the “filth” or brown fingered,brown teethed lower classes that smoke.

I’ve hated smokers for many years and I am almost positive that one day, I will successfully kill someone who smokes. I encourage any non-smokers who are reading this to go out and kick the shit out of smokers.

If a person is caught smoking, he or she should be shot on sight. The world would be a better place!

Doesn’t this sound at all familiar? A few decades ago in Germany certain groups, Jewish people amongst them, were first denormalised and demonised, then ultimately dehumanised. Untermenschen, they were called – subhumans – and what was said about them fits in so well with the comments quoted above (and incidentally, Dick Puddlecote has links to all of these comments – they’re quite real).

Early 1938 sign. Translation: “Jews not wanted
in Behringersdorf.” Sound at all familiar? 

Get out of here! Go away! Leave! Leave us!

You are second-class citizens. If you don’t like it, move. I don’t want you here anyway.

You’re filthy! You’re scum! You disgust us!

I have always looked down at the “filth” or brown fingered,brown teethed lower classes that smoke.

They deserve to be robbed.



We hate you! Go and die, will you? Why can’t you go away and just die?! 

SMOKERS, PLEASE die … sooner rather than later, so there will be less of you around, stinking up every place you go.

… I hope the cold winter kills a few more off in fact

[Smokers] have the right to die. That’s it.

Just die! Die! DIE!!

… a cull next….. shot on sight….. a quick clean bullet …..want all smoker dead…..
one day, I will successfully kill someone who smokes… 

It’s not just legislative attacks specifically targeting them that they need to worry about, but also this foaming hatred whipped up by the constant process of denormalising, demonising and dehumanising smokers. What should give all of us pause for thought is that if you change just the last word of that sentence to Slavs or Jews or Poles it could have come from a history book on the 1930s, and if those times are any guide we haven’t seen the end of this. Wikipedia notes that “The Holocaust was accomplished in stages. Legislation to remove the Jews from civil society was enacted years before the outbreak of World War II.” Follow that link and you see what kind of legislation we’re talking about. A ban on Jews marrying non-Jews, for example. Not a million miles off the ban on smokers being foster parents that I linked to in the fourth paragraph, I’d suggest. Even if you accept the passive smoking argument – and let’s not even get into the lunacy of 2+Nth hand smoke – the ban is once again not on the activity but on the person. Smokers, not smoking. There were laws on the employment of Jews – they were banned from the Civil Service, for example – and Jews employing non-Jews, just in case it rubbed off and sullied a Nazi or something, and in the same para I linked to an article on legal EU approved discrimination of smokers, again the people rather than the act of smoking. And why, given that smoking is already banned in the workplace, and indeed could always have been banned by business owners if they chose? Because, according to the firm concerned, not only might they take a smoke break (seems prejudicial) but even if they don’t they will smell and get ill, and they must be stupid – no more evidence being required for that last half-formed thought than that they chose to continue smoking.

“I would consider smoking as interfering with standards. I’m talking about smoking breaks but not only that – their smell, their intelligence, their illnesses are all factors. That’s why the line was there. Smokers will not be employed, so there is no point in coming for an interview.”

Interviewed on an Irish radio station, Tobin added that anyone who could continue to smoke despite health warnings was obviously not intelligent enough to work for his company. But smokers’ groups have reacted angrily, accusing him of “health fascism”.

I’d certainly call it fascism when even ASH – ASH, for Christ’s sake – thought that was going a bit far.

Ian Willmore, a spokesman for anti-smoking group Ash, believes refusing to employ smokers is “thoroughly bad public policy”.

He said: “We are not interested in discriminating against people because they are smokers. We are interested in helping them quit. Our advice to employers would be not to do that unless there is a clear occupational reason why smoking is not possible.

“We are not an organisation that exists to persecute smokers. We are an organisation that exists to reduce the amount of harm that smoking does.” But he added that encouraging employees to quit could cut days lost to sickness and boost productivity.

It’s sort of nice to know you’ve got limits, Ian, but you or people like you let the djinni out of the bottle. Don’t expect me not to tar you with the fascist brush – or should it be fASHist? – as well just because someone even more hate-filled has appeared. Especially not after that little apologia at the end.

And fascism really does seem the appropriate word when anti-smokers have their Nuremburg laws to bash smokers with and show every sign of continuing to add to them. It’s progressed to special treatment of tobacco as a good so as to further inconvenience smokers – in some places (at least one state in Australia, and no doubt others before long) tobacco must be kept behind closed doors or hidden out of sight under the counter, and plain packaging has been mooted. This makes no difference at all to non-smokers. Why should I care what colour the packet is or whether I can see it? But it makes the smoker’s life just a little bit more difficult since he’s unable to glance at the shelves and see if his preferred brand is in stock. Now he must queue up and ask, wasting his time if they’re not in stock. But fuck him, he’s just a stinking smoker, right, eh, ASH? His time isn’t important to any real people. Why not just beat him up, smash his windows and take his property? Why not round them all up and keep them away from decent people? Who honestly gives a rip?

I’ll tell you who: me. I care. Even though I stopped smoking a while ago now I care, and I oppose the continued official harassment, legalised bullying and discrimination, and the anonymous threats that they suffer.

Not. In. My. Name. Mother-fuckers.

I don’t like the smoke anymore but if it’s blowing in my face it’s not hard to take a step or two to avoid it. And even that’s indoors only. Outside the smoke disperses so quickly in all but the lightest breeze that it’s a non-issue, and in the lightest breezes or very still air it tends to go straight up. I can only get hit with smoke outdoors if someone actually blows it in my face, and this has never happened even once since I quit. Nor did I ever do it to anyone in the years I smoked. Yes, you can still get the smell, and like a lot of non-smokers I don’t like it much either, but for Christ’s sake it’s just a smell. I’ve smelt worse farts. I’ve smelt worse BO. I’ve smelt more overpowering perfume. I will not take part in or condone the persecution others because of an odour, and I will carry on speaking up for those who wish to smoke. And there’s a reason for that, a very simple one.

The march of hatred is moving on, and it’s only a matter of time before they come to me. I ducked their hatred once when I quit smoking (for reasons of my own) but by then attention had already turned to drink. As it happened I barely drank anyway and have gradually become a non-drinker too, so I’ve ducked it again a second time. However, I cannot keep this up. I am not politically correct by nature; I could do with losing a few kilos; I’m for shooters’ rights and would support gun ownership for defence; I like to put lots of salt on my food; I eat meat and I’m prepared to catch it and kill it myself if push came to shove; I don’t believe in global warming; I’m in favour of individual liberty (subject to the Non-Aggression Principle), including the freedom to say something I find utterly vile and repulsive, such as many of the quotes in this post. I could go on but the bottom line is this – the bastards will find something about me to hate sooner or later. The Nazis had been obsessed with Jews for many years, arguably decades if you count the anti-semitism of the Völkisch movement from which the Nazis took many ideas, but we all know it didn’t stop there. Niemöller had it dead right, because by the end – long before the end, in fact – the Nazis were gunning for absolutely anyone who didn’t fit their ideals. That meant Communists, homosexuals, Freemasons, gypsies, Slavs and many eastern Europeans, a whole lot of Soviet POWs, and many physically and mentally disabled people (to say nothing of anyone who simply opposed any of this). Their march of hatred carried on until finally they were stopped, but the price was bitterly high. The twenty-first century march of hatred has not been stopped, and if moves to further restrict the liberty of smokers even outdoors is any guide I’d say that if anything it seems to be gathering pace.** I mean, go read that. Just go have a quick read. We’re lucky to have the climate for a café culture at least part of the year here, though not so much this year with all the rain we’ve had, and having driven the smokers outside many places began putting tables and chairs out for them. Not all were able to do this – pavements have to be wide enough, for example, pubs might need a beer garden – but I think most of those who could did so. I’m sure some made it non-smoking outdoors too but that was their choice, and the smokers would be able to find other places. Not any more. They must now be driven away altogether, even though groups of smokers outside are a big part of the reason some places have an outdoor area in the first place. As one Melbourne smoker from Carlton by the name of Yooblues put it:

ENOUGH ALREADY!
I stand outside in freezing conditions or in the rain
I cross the street when I see a mother with a pram
I stand downwind from any group
I go outside at the footy
I don’t smoke in my car
I put up with the little “cough cough” innuendos and disparaging looks from the health nutters
I keep every butt and dispose of it thoughtfully
I pick the downwind table outside restaurants
I don’t charge you for second hand smoke that cost me a fortune to imbibe first hand
Now RACK OFF and leave me alone!

First offence? You’ll probably
get away with crucifixion

Poor bastard.

I don’t know what the bansturbators will eventually come and get me for, but I know they will come and I can even see some of them already. Being a bit fat is already in the spot searchlights and gun bannery has been going on for a century, but there’s my proud climate heresy as well. If I’m lucky I might only be executed by controlled explosion for that, but since my heresy goes back a way it could mean some people will seize my property and either leave me in a desert or throw me into bear infested freezing Arctic waters, all the while torturing me with their cheerful brand of amateur close harmony singing. Thanks, but I’d rather be over-enthusiastically resuscitated by a sixty a day smoker of re-made rollies.

The time has come for reasonable people to stop taking in the bullshit about twenty-third hand smoke, draw a line on the ground behind themselves and tell the Righteous in a firm voice that this is where it stops and now is when it ends – we stand with the smokers, and we stand with the drinkers, and we stand with the salad dodgers, and we stand with the gun owners, and the ones who like a spliff and the ones who like a bet and the ones who who like to play shoot-’em-up video games, even though we ourselves might not do any of those things. In fact, we must say, we stand with all who do not meet your ideals or accept your dogma, because eventually that group includes more or less everybody.

We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.

Benjamin Franklin

I stand with the smokers even though I don’t smoke because they do me no harm and I enjoy the company of several smokers. But I should stand with the smokers anyway out of pure self-interest because, as Niemöller pointed out, if I don’t there will be nobody to stand with me when it’s my turn.

* I may be an ex-smoker but I am certainly not a reformed smoker, and if someone came here and suggested I am I shall push them down the stairs. “Reformed” implies I feel guilt for smoking in the past and I don’t. Not a bit of it. It was something I used to do but eventually stopped, that’s all. If only those absolutely addicted to bansturbation would do the same.

**Oh yes, that’s our wonderful new Liberal In Name Only Victorian state government for you – I knew the bastards wouldn’t take long before showing how ilLiberal they really are. Hey, that makes “LINOs”. That’s a keeper for the blog tag collection. It’s just a shame you have to be loaded before you can walk on them.