The Enemies of Society

Many thanks for all the comments under yesterday’s post, where I sketched out my plans for producing YouTube videos of Skype conversations between smokers. I’ve taken note of 7 or 8 people who seem interested in participating. At some point I’ll be emailing them all.

As I wrote in response to Dmitri last night: In the first place the idea is to have smokers recount their experiences of smoking bans for other smokers to see, and say, “That’s how it was for me too!”But the other purpose is for non-smokers to watch these videos, and hear all their stories, and say to themselves, “I never knew that smokers were having such a terrible time!”

Either way, it seems like the only way round the mainstream media black-out of smokers, that has rendered them voiceless and invisible.

But it does mean that I want to hear the worst from smokers, not the best. I want to know how bad it’s been for them, not how good. I want to hear how smoking bans shattered their communities, bankrupted pubs, and set friends and families against each other. I can and do write about the impact that smoking bans have had on me personally. Now I’d like to hear from other people – how they personally responded to smoking bans, and how the people around them responded.

I’m never really sure whether I’m  libertarian, but I read this morning that the Pope has been condemning libertarianism:

“A common characteristic of this fallacious paradigm is that it minimizes the common good, that is the idea of ‘living well’ or the ‘good life’ in the communitarian framework,” Francis said, while at the same time exalting a “selfish ideal.”

The current Pope is a socialist. And over the past 50 years, popes seem to have alternated between being socialists or conservatives much in the same way as national governments all over the world have alternated. Why should it be any different for popes?

And for socialists, it seems that all individuals are members of society or societies. They are members of something that is both larger and more important than they are, much like the individual grains of sand in a sandstone building are part of a work of architecture that is far more significant than any of them. Something along those lines. Whatever way, society is more important than the individual.

But in my individualistic way of seeing, societies are made up collections of atomic individuals that are connected, like the atoms in a piece of sandstone, by bonds between them. There are all sorts of different bonds, There are family ties, bonds of friendship, comradeship in companies or armies, as well as shared languages, cultures, and countries. There are all sorts of invisible ties between concrete individuals in societies, just as there are invisible ties between concrete atoms in sandstone blocks.

I can’t think of “society” as being separate and apart from the individuals that comprise it, any more than I can think of a “table” as being separate and apart from all the atoms of carbon and hydrogen and oxygen that make up the wood in the table. For if the table catches fire and burns completely away, I don’t think that the “table” will survive as some sort of after-image or phantom form. I think it ceases to exist.

And when I got round to thinking about societies in Idle Theory, it was to first think of lone nomadic humans living entirely separate lives from each other (i.e. no “society” whatsoever), and then combining together to form societies which were more idle than any of the lone nomads had ever been. That is to say that the formation of human societies brought with it an increase in human idleness. And this increase in idleness was experienced by every single individual member of these societies. “Society”, seen this way, was as much a useful human tool as any axe or saw or hammer.

And in what sense is the “common good” ever really separate from individual good. I suppose that roads are a good example of a “common good”, because they benefit everyone. But in practice what these roads do is to allow individual people to go from A to B (or from B to A) more rapidly than they would if there was no road between A and B. And so in practice the “common good” is found to consist of the sum of all the individual benefits – in saved time – experienced by many thousands of individuals using these roads. The “common good” becomes, if you like, many thousands of individual “selfish ideals.”

And if “society” and roads and hammers should ever cease to benefit individual humans, they will cease to be manufactured and maintained. For it takes an effort to manufacture and maintain society, just as it takes an effort to construct and maintain roads.

And the wonder of it all to me is that it always seems to be people who call themselves “socialists” or  “communists”, and who profess to be deeply concerned about “society”, who actually do the most damage to society. For it was the socialists in the UK Labour party who brought in the 2007 smoking ban which completely shattered the society to which I had belonged. And, equally amazingly, it was the greedy, selfish Conservatives in Parliament who voted against that draconian ban. And so I have begun to wonder whether anyone who calls themselves a “socialist” or “communist” is actually someone who is the enemy of society, and the enemy of community.

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Skype and YouTube

Back in 2011, at Stony Stratford, one of my regrets about that otherwise remarkably successful demonstration of smoker solidarity was that, having held up their protest placards for the TV cameras, and listened to a few speeches, and imbibed a few drinks (and smokes), all concerned simply jumped back into their cars and sped off in all directions back the way they’d come.

I’d hoped that there would be long conversations that would run deep into the night, exchanged phone numbers, planned new meetings, and so on. But in the event I only spoke to the organiser, Dick Puddlecote, for about 60 seconds. And I only spoke to Chris Snowdon for about 5 seconds. And I only exchanged a casual wave of a hand with Pat Nurse as she passed my table. And I said not a word to Nigel Farage, standing three yards away. By late afternoon, more or less everyone had gone.

I suppose that for most people, the job – of protesting against a proposed outdoor smoking ban – was done. Nothing else needed doing. But I thought that there was another implicit purpose in all these people meeting up in one place: to speak to each other. To me it seemed important that like-minded people should build ties between each other, compare notes, argue, dispute, agree, disagree. As it was I felt that, after meeting up briefly, otherwise atomised smokers returned to their atomised, separate lives.

And this was why, when I got an invitation from Emily Wieja to appear on the Smoking Section, and talk to a couple of other smokers, I jumped at it. Because I don’t want to engage in combat with antismokers. It always seems like a futile enterprise. I want, if you like, to help build an army to defeat the antismokers. And to build an army you must bring people together. Smokers need to be brought together all over the world. There are about 1.5 billion of them in the world. And while they’re all living isolated, atomised lives, they are completely powerless. But even if only one tenth of 1% of them could be united, they would form an invincible army.

But how might that be done? Smokers have all been expelled from society, “exiled to the outdoors”, almost everywhere. And they have been excluded from the mainstream media. You never see any smokers on TV. At least not smokers who are actually smoking. Smokers have zero representation. They have no voice. They are completely submerged. And they are atomised into separate, isolated individuals.

But in my brief half hour conversation with Emily, at a distance of some 5,000 kilometres, I began to see a way in which smokers might overcome their exclusion. All they needed was a webcam and a microphone, and Skype or Facebook or Google Hangouts, and they could meet up with anyone, anywhere in the world, for a beer and a cigarette. They might no longer be able to meet up, person to person, in a delightfully smoky little pub or cafe, but – thanks to the astounding power of the internet – they could meet up online. The whole world could become a smoky little online pub.

I did actually try out Skype a few years back, when I met up online with GaryK, Nisakiman, and the late Lysistrata. But I think that having 4 people together at the same time was a bit over-ambitious. It was also plagued by feedback that rendered conversation impossible.

I now think that a simple one-to-one conversation, with earphones to prevent the feedback that loudspeakers cause when the sound from them enters microphones, is likely to be a more successful format. In fact, I know that it is, because since meeting up with Emily on the Smoking Section TV show, we’ve met up on Skype a good half dozen times, and talked animatedly for hours. And it cost us both nothing at all (except the price of the beers we drank)!

So I’m now thinking of meeting up with lots more people. In fact, anyone who’d like to talk to me, face to face. Emily wants to do that too. And maybe if a few smokers get talking to Emily and me, they’ll start meeting up with a few other smokers.

But, quite apart from having people meet up and talk, there was a second purpose. And this was to record some of these conversations (with the consent of all concerned), and publish them on YouTube or Vimeo. And in this manner, voiceless smokers could begin to gain a voice. They could tell their stories. And they could tell their stories to other, sympathetic smokers who had themselves shared many of their experiences. Smokers may not be allowed to appear or speak in highly-controlled mainstream media, but they could do so in the alternative online media. And they could smoke while they did so.

To this end, I’ve been collecting video recording and editing software, and posting up one or two test videos on YouTube. Emily has been doing the same. We are planning to make a video of the two of us talking about how to make such videos. They won’t be slick professional productions, of course. There will be awkward pauses, skewed webcams, noisy microphones, perhaps even cats that walk through the scene.

And then, with luck, we’ll be having regular conversations, of half and hour or so, with all sorts of wonderful people, with all sorts of different points of view, and all sorts of different ideas. There might even be bitter arguments. Strong disagreements. Amazing discoveries. Or that is the hope.

And for me it would be something welcome. I may write a lot, and read a lot, but I can go entire days – even weeks – without speaking a word to anyone, except the occasional bartender or shop assistant. There are lots of benefits to such an hermitic existence: you get plenty of time in which to think, and I do think a lot. But I don’t really want to be thinking and reading an writing all the time.

Anyway, I give notice of my return to Skype. Readers may begin to ask themselves whether they would like to appear not just in the comments here, but also in occasional Skype encounters and YouTube videos as well.

Of course, nothing may come of it. But, on the other hand, it might stimulate a wave of such online meetings, and a tsunami of YouTube videos, as 1.5 billion people find a way to express themselves.

The only shame is that Harley no longer seems to be around to join in. I’m sure he would have loved to.

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What’s In A Name?

I ended up yesterday thinking about names, because Harley had a lot of names. What was his real name? What was his most secret and true name? It almost certainly wasn’t Harley.

I used to think his real name was John Davidson. I don’t know how I came to believe that. But I suspect it was yet another untrue name.

The plain fact of the matter is that I simply don’t know what his real name was. And I never will know. I’ve received several suggestions. But I see no obvious reason to believe that my correspondents are in possession of the true and real name of Harley.

For me Harley has become The Unknown Soldier (or perhaps the Unknown Sailor), known only unto God. He was someone fighting on our side in this crazy war that we’re all fighting.

People adopt pseudonyms. And when they do this, they multiply themselves. They become a cloud of names. And the more names they’ve got, the more tenuous their existence becomes. Real people have only ever got one name.

There are lots of reasons for people to adopt pseudonyms. Harley was a frequent commenter on various forums, and got regularly banned from them – whereupon he would acquire a new identity, a new name, and masquerade under that until he got banned yet again.

And some people just want to stay out of sight. They don’t want any prominence. So they use pseudonyms, and nobody ever knows who they really were.

I read last year that Barack Obama used a pseudonym in some of his emails. I think the idea behind that is that a casual reader would not discover that he was reading the words of the President of the United States. Only insiders, like Hillary Clinton, would know the true name buried under the pseudonym. And I suppose that Hillary Clinton probably used a pseudonym too. Maybe everybody had pseudonyms. And perhaps this was the secret and true email scandal. It wasn’t that she had an insecure email server in her bathroom: it was that she was moonlighting under multiple pseudonyms, all of which had been effortlessly uncovered by Russian intelligence agencies.

And what is anyone’s real name? Wasn’t Hillary Clinton once known as Hillary Rodham? Which is her real one? Married women usually change their name to that of their husband(s). They become more and more people, every time they marry. So Jackie Bouvier became Jackie Kennedy and then Jackie Onassis.

Marilyn Monroe was really Norma Jean Mortenson. Or was it that Norma Jean Mortenson was really Marilyn Monroe? After all, isn’t Marilyn Monroe much more well known?

Most people round here know me as Frank. But some people might say that my real name is Chris, because that’s.what they know me as. Christopher is my first or Christian name. Francis is merely my middle name. At school I was usually known by my surname, Davis. Occasionally I was even Davis2. It was my choice to shift to using my middle name, because it was the name of my Spitfire pilot uncle, and I felt I needed a bit of the spirit of The Few in the face of the massed bombers of Tobacco Control. And anyway Chris had been my own choice, at age 17, for what I wanted to be called.  And it served perfectly well for the next 40 or 50 years.

Whenever you change your name, you become a different person. Chris Davis is not quite the same person as Frank Davis. They refer to the same man, but to different people in the same man. Chris was a kindly, dreamy sort of guy. Frank’s much tougher.

I can never handle anyone changing their name. I had a friend once called Neil who declared one day that he was now called Leonard. But I couldn’t handle it. And so our friendship died, simply because I no longer knew what to call him.

And I knew Harley as, well,… Harley. I didn’t know him very well. I think other people knew him much better than I did. I valued him for the links he dug up. They were ammunition. Any number of posts of mine have started “H/T Harley”.

And now I’m told that he’s dead, and is buried six feet under Kentucky’s soil. And that that wasn’t his real name anyway.

Perhaps nobody ever dies. It’s just that everyone agrees that they’ve died. It’s the consensus opinion. My uncle Francis bailed out of his Spitfire over the Mediterranean sea, and was never seen again. He was posted missing, presumed dead. But I suspect that his family carried on hoping that he was still alive. They probably never got closure. They could never agree that he was dead. His mother never got over it.

And everyone seems to agree that Harley is dead. Who am I to dissent? After all, I never knew his true and secret name.

Perhaps I should inter him in the Smokers’ Graveyard? He’s another casualty, isn’t he? But what name do I put on the headstone?

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I’m far from convinced that Harley is dead. There’s not enough evidence. The only evidence I’ve got is two Facebook comments by Iro Cyzane. The first one:

Dearest Daniel, Harleyrider, you fought hard for what you believed in. Thanks for everything you did for all of us.

RIP my friend.

Yes, I am afraid Harley passed away in his home in Kentucky on April 11th at 58 years old.

He will be remembered as our no. 1 warrior.

To respect his desire to remain anonymous throughout all these years, I can’t give out his real name or any other details, but if you have questions that I can answer that won’t give his identity away, ask away.

The second one:

Iro CyZane In case you’re wondering how I know. I got most worried when I discovered that he hadn’t posted anywhere since Apr. 11 th which was in his own profile the very same day he passed away under Daniel Hammond. He had given me his phone no. sometime in the past but unfortunately because of the anonymous account he gave it to me under, Messanger had deleted it. So I started searching under the obituaries in Kentucky. I found one that matched his name, his age, and the date he last posted. I verified with Marlene who he had told me in the past has visited Kentucky if she knew the name of his home town and it was the exact hometown in the obituary. There can’t be so many coïncidences : same name, same small town in Kentucky, same age, two sons which he had talked to me about before, relatives in Tennessee. I would love more than anyone else to say that it’s not him, but unfortunately everything matches, including the announcement of his death in one veteran group here in facebook.

Iro Cyzane is an impeccable source. She’s one of the volunteers who helped do the ISIS survey, providing the Canadian numbers. I’d trust her with my life.

But that doesn’t mean that she’s right about Harley. She found the obituary of someone in Kentucky that might have been Harley, who’d died the same day, 11 April, as the last time he posted on his Facebook page.

I don’t really understand why she started searching obituaries when someone hasn’t posted on Facebook for 10 days. Harley has been posting on my blog for years. He’s my top commenter. In recent months, he’s posted fewer comments. But if I started searching obituaries whenever any regular commenter stopped posting for a couple of weeks, I’d be reading obituaries all day. But for Iro, I’d still think Harley was still alive and well (Not that he ever seemed to be very well).

Also, if Harley had died, wouldn’t his family have posted something on Facebook about it? He seemed to spend most of his time online. Wouldn’t they have noticed him doing that?

And what about Magnetic, aka Vincent-Riccardo Di Pierri? A month or two back the alarm went up when his Rampant Antismoking website vanished, and he stopped commenting. Had he died? I said that he might have gone on holiday somewhere. And I read today that his website is now back up again.

I didn’t have any of these doubts when either Dr Ian Dunbar or Lysistrata died.  Ian Dunbar was about 75, and in and out of nursing homes. Lysistrata had terminal cancer. Their deaths were expected. There were several independent confirmations of their deaths.

But in the case of Harley, I’ve not been expecting his death. I knew he was serially unwell, usually with some variant of flu. And that he was regularly seeing medics in the VA. But lots of people get flu, and visit doctors. And there’s just one single source for the report of his death.

Most likely Iro is right. But I’m not convinced. I won’t be very surprised if he’s back soon commenting here again. Maybe Magnetic will be back soon too.

But it does raise the question of what to do when some valued commenter disappears. All I had for Harley was an email address. And that proved to be invalid.

If something were to happen to me, I’d expect my brother to post a comment here to tell people. He knows about this blog, and reads it quite regularly. But I think I’m now going to ask him to keep people here informed if I get sick or drop dead.

And it also goes back to something I wrote yesterday:

…all the disputes in the world are between people who are quite sure about one thing, and people who are quite sure of something else.

I’m not one of the world’s believers. I don’t believe everything I’m told. It takes a lot of evidence to convince me of anything. And even then, I’m never completely certain. That’s just how I am.

It’s going to take more evidence to convince me that Harley’s dead. If he hasn’t posted any comments anywhere in 6 months or a year, I may start to begin to believe it.

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I woke up astonished this morning.

All yesterday, my nose had been streaming, and my head felt thick and muzzy. I was developing a cold. Last night I prepared a drink of hot lemon juice and honey and whisky – something I usually do whenever the symptoms of a cold appear, even though it probably doesn’t do any good at all. So when I fell asleep last night, it was in full expectation that I’d wake up this morning with a full-blown cold, complete with sore throat and hacking cough. I’d dug out paracetamol and cough drops and even my little-used e-cig in preparation. I was quite certain of it. I was 99% certain of it. Maybe even 100% certain.

And so I was astonished this morning when I woke up and found that I didn’t have a cold. All the symptoms had vanished. My head was clear. My nose was dry.

And an hour or two after getting up, I remain astonished. Because I thought I would be in no fit state to write anything in my blog. Yet here I am, writing in it. How astonishing! I was so sure. And usually I’m never sure about anything.

It set me thinking about how all the disputes in the world are between people who are quite sure about one thing, and people who are quite sure of something else.

Most people, for example, are quite sure that smoking causes lung cancer. Everybody knows that, don’t they? There are only a few people who don’t believe it. And they are contrarians.

And lots of people believe that human-generated CO2 in the atmosphere is causing global warming. But then quite a few people don’t believe it.

I’m staying at my brother’s this week, while he’s off on holiday somewhere. And so I can legally watch television without paying the £155 licence fee, because he’s paid it. And so last night, as I prepared for my impending, inevitable cold, I was watching a BBC hit piece on Donald Trump’s utterly disastrous first 100 days in office.  It was fronted by Jeremy Paxman, Britain’s equivalent of Dan Rather or Walter Cronkite. One person after another came on to say how he was completely unfit for his office, and kept changing his mind, and was making a complete mess of the job. But one or two of the critics weren’t so sure. One of them said that he’d been wrong about Trump every single time he’d said something. He even listed all the occasions he’d been wrong. He’d been so perfectly and exactly wrong, every single time, that he didn’t want to say any more about Trump.

But for the most part, all the critics of Donald Trump are absolutely certain that he’s mad, bad, and dangerous. And they probably meet about 100 people every day who have the exact same opinion. And so they get confirmation every day of their certainty. Because everybody they know thinks the same way they do.

I was reminded that I once saw Deborah Arnott say something like “We know that 400,000 people die from smoking every year.” That wasn’t exactly what she said, but it was something like that. And she said it matter-of-factly, as if it was a universal truth that everybody knew. But at the time I thought, “She doesn’t know any such thing. Not with any certainty. Not with any certainty at all.” In fact, it seemed to me that it would have been far more true to have said “We don’t know that 400,000 people die from smoking every year.”

But antismokers like Deborah Arnott are always perfectly certain. They never express any hint of doubt or uncertainty about anything. Deborah Arnott is no doctor or epidemiologist or scientist or expert, but she always speaks with the quiet assurance of one. Real experts don’t shout. And her quiet assurance extends beyond medicine into economics, when she quietly assures people that smoking bans have no adverse economic impacts. I think that if Deborah Arnott was to speak about global warming or Brexit or Trump, it would be to express quiet assurance that we were all frying ourselves, and Brexit was a catastrophe,  and Trump was insane (e.g.)


It’s the reason why Deborah Arnott is the boss of ASH. She’s got the air of assurance and certainty that’s needed for the job. She’s unflappable. And she can tell a whole string of outright lies with a completely straight face. No-one else can do it quite like she can. It’s a remarkable gift. It’s a part that she knows how to play, like a consummate actor. It’s totally convincing. And it convinces everyone. Or almost everyone.

If there’s a difference between smokers and antismokers, it’s that smokers aren’t certain of anything, and antismokers are certain about absolutely everything. And they’re  absolutely certain about everything that everybody else is certain about. They’re know-alls. They’re know-alls who are surrounded by identical know-alls.

And if antismokers are winning the war on smoking, it’s because their certainties are prevailing over smokers’ uncertainties. Certainty always trumps uncertainty. You’re always going to hire the guy who says he knows how to do something rather than the guy who says he doesn’t know, or is not sure, or will have to ask somebody else.

Smokers will only start winning when uncertainty mounts, and old certainties get swept away. When that happens, anyone who says they know anything with any certainty will start to look like a fool.

Most people seem to still be certain that Donald Trump is mad, bad, and dangerous. And maybe he is. But some people don’t seem to be quite as certain about it as they used to be. And if he manages another 100 days in office without starting WW3, probably quite a few more people won’t be quite so sure that he’s a madman. Maybe a few will start saying he’s a genius. And then quite a few people will start saying he’s a genius. And finally everyone will know that he’s a genius, with perfect certainty.

And that’s how it goes. The pendulum swings between two fixed certainties, the one the opposite of the other. In between, it’s never certain. In between, it’s always changing.

And my nose is running again. I was quite sure earlier today that I didn’t have a cold. But now I’m not so sure.

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100 Years of War

Audrey Silk in NYC:

We must be getting close to an election.

When former NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn was sliding in the polls in the 2013 race for mayor due to supporter dismay at her softened stances on issues important to them she reached for a mob-pleasing shield: A new anti-smoker law. She ushered through a law that raised the sales age for cigarettes from 18 to 21. That she failed to win the election is beside the point.

Today, as the next election approaches, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has suddenly lifted aloft the same shield. Out of darkness come ten proposals assaulting smokers.

I say out of darkness because he’s already had four years in office with barely an anti-smoker peep. That was Bloomberg’s signature and it’s no secret that de Blasio didn’t like him or want to be seen in his shadow.

In what way do people win elections by launching assaults on minorities? Why does it ‘please the mob’ to see vindictive laws enacted against minorities? Why should I vote for A because he attacks B? What good does it do me if A attacks B?

Perhaps these minorities are really just punchbags on which to vent spleen? Why such spleen? Maybe it’s the spleen that was born of losing the presidential election last November. Democrats still haven’t got over that. They feel cheated. By Comey. By the Russians. By whoever. Smokers are a convenient target of pent-up rage. Like battered wives. If it wasn’t going to be smokers, it would just be someone else.

Maybe it was the same back in inter-war Germany. Germans were enraged by the harsh terms of the Versailles treaty, and by the state of their country in the aftermath of WW1, and were looking for scapegoats. The Jews were the most convenient targets.

It’s perhaps something that always happens when there are deep animosities. And somehow or other Democrats seem to bear the deepest grudges. They hold grudges against more or less everything. The scapegoat, whoever it is, is a lightning conductor on which to discharge the pent-up, generalised, undirected animosity.

But all this animosity directed at smokers is only going to come back at them one day. Because smokers are gradually being filled with their own animosity towards all the hate-filled, vindictive people who are persecuting them.

I like to think that the current global war on the world’s 1.5 billion smokers will will just run out of steam one day. But that may well be wishful thinking. For it’s also possible that it will just go on and on, and smokers will get angrier and angrier, and it will all explode one day. And it will become a 100 year shooting war of smokers against antismokers. Because that’s what’s slowly coming down the track.

Perhaps that’s how wars start. Perhaps they bubble up out of an ubiquitous discontent, where everyone has become a powder keg of seething, contradictory emotions, a boiling cauldron of rage and hate. Sooner or later, the swollen river overflows its banks, wherever it can find a way. If not here, then somewhere else. And warmongers are people who direct the flood, by breaking the banks in one place before it breaks them somewhere else. We fight wars in Syria in order to avoid them in Manhattan.

The hatred and rage that’s directed at smokers is perhaps the same hatred and rage that’s directed at Donald Trump, or Ann Coulter, or Roger Stone, or Jews, or Muslims, or bankers. Or maybe just America, and Western Civilisation, and the entire infuriating history of the world.

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Beaten or Robbed: Which Would You Prefer?

Iro Cyzane on Facebook:

”Just over a week after the terror group was flushed out of his hometown, Mr. Saleh was making a visual statement. He wanted people to know that he’s a smoker, a crime that until recently would have earned him 20 lashes.”

Not that I would go as far as comparing the terrorists to our western busybullies, but I too hold my cigarette with pride as a symbol of resistance to the bullying.

Is there really very much difference between their bullies and our bullies? If you’re a Syrian smoker, you get 20 lashes. If you’re a New York smoker, you get another $3 slapped on a pack of cigarettes. And we all know that NYC antismokers would like to give smokers 20 lashes.

Syrian smokers are beaten. New York smokers are robbed. Which would you prefer?

NY Daily News:

Another of the mayor’s policies was met with disdain from the next caller — his plan to increase the minimum price for a pack of cigarettes to $13. A caller named Trey argued cheeseburgers and doughnuts are just as harmful, and that de Blasio was turning into Mayor Michael Bloomberg — making people “miserable” by punishing them for their choices.

“If the only joy in a person’s life is smoking a cigarette when they get home from work after a hard day, who are you to take that away?” the caller asked.

The mayor argued he sees it as a question of public health rather than individual rights.

“Taxpayers end up having to deal with these crises,” he said.

Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, is a prince of thieves. His attitude to smokers is the same attitude as a pickpocket to other people’s wallets: “That money belongs to me, not them.”

“Look,” he might add, “These people don’t know what to do with their money. That’s quite obvious, because they’re wasting it on cigarettes. They may as well be throwing it in the Hudson river. In fact, they may as well be throwing themselves in the Hudson river. The very least we can do is grab some of that money back, and spend it on shelters for the homeless or something, before it all floats off down the river. Don’t you agree?”

Of course the mayor hides behind public health. Public health trumps everything else. It trumps joy. It trumps all rights. It trumps morality. It trumps compassion and consideration. It trumps honour and duty. It trumps justice. Once you pick up the Public Health card from the Community Chest, it’s as good as a Get Out Of Jail Free card. Which is why a pickpocket like de Blasio is running NYC. He’s beyond the law. He’s beyond prison. He’s beyond justice. All that stuff got torn up by Public Health.

He learnt it all from Michael Bloomberg, the previous NYC pickpocket.

And it’s always a Crisis. And in a crisis, the old rules and customs and constraints go out the window.

It’s like the WHO’s global smoking “epidemic”. Once you call it an epidemic – like the Black Death -, you make it into a crisis. Something has to be done about it, right now, this minute. And you demand emergency powers. And you maintain the state of emergency indefinitely. And during the state of emergency, all the old rules and regulations are suspended, and replaced by arbitrary new ones.

Global Warming is another manufactured crisis. Particularly if it’s called Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming. A catastrophe! Declare a state of emergency!

None of these things are crises at all, of course. They’re all conjured out of thin air, quite literally.

And now everyone’s worrying about WW3 breaking out. And, of course, that’s yet another non-crisis crisis on top of all the other non-crisis crises.

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