While updating my blogroll links, I got reading some stuff on Smokingscot’s webpage:
‘Internet vermin’ target health advocates
Medical Observer Wednesday 08 April 2015, 9:35AM
Prominent health activist Professor Mike Daube suspects commercial interests may be behind some of the anonymous forces using social media to abuse and intimidate public health advocates.
The Curtin University professor, who chaired the committee that recommended plain packaging of tobacco in Australia, says the vitriol dished out by nameless attackers could have a chilling effect on individuals’ readiness to speak out about the health impacts of alcohol, tobacco and other social ills.
“I do think it’s getting to the stage where people in public health are at risk of being intimidated out of it,” Professor Daube told Medical Observer.
“I have certainly been the target of very unpleasant blogs, tweets and direct emails, replete with [obscene language]. It’s no fun having those coming into your in box.”
He cited the example of a young Australian researcher who stopped commenting publicly about electronic cigarettes after being lashed by “internet vermin2.
“We want to encourage more young people into public health, but if they are going to hit this kind of intimidation I really do worry,” he said.
Isn’t that terrible? Health activists being attacked by “internet vermin”! And they’re at risk of being intimidated!
Actually I’m delighted. If nothing else, it goes to show that at least some of what’s being thrown at them is hitting home. And that’s worth knowing.
In fact, I’m almost certainly one of those “internet vermin” myself, having previously devoted a post or two to the likes of Dobbo and co. After all, I do have a page on Tobacco Tactics entirely devoted to me. I’ve got previous on this.
“I find it hard to believe that at least some of this is not planned and orchestrated.”
Well, he would, wouldn’t he? People like him spend their days planning and orchestrating the global persecution and demonisation and exclusion of smokers, so they’re bound to suppose that counter-attacks must be planned and orchestrated in the exact same way, most likely by Big Tobacco. But, precisely because what he does is planned and orchestrated (and financed), he almost certainly doesn’t understand how social media work in a completely unplanned and un-orchestrated (and un-financed) fashion. The social media response to news comes as a widening ripple spreading around a dropped stone – sometimes as a tidal wave as stories ‘go viral’. There’s no planning involved.
The simple truth of the matter is that there are a lot of very angry smokers who don’t like what’s being done to them one bit, and who are speaking out about it. And as their numbers mount, they’ve become a swarm that acts just like a swarm of angry wasps. And since those smokers generally get angry about the same things, they’ll all get angry at the same time when they read another piece of bad news. No planning required. No orchestration. It all just happens spontaneously.
And the bad news for Dobbo is that it’s most likely only going to get worse. Because there’s about 1.5 billion angry smokers in the world, slowly getting angrier and angrier. Relatively few of them are kicking up a stink at the moment, but the numbers are always mounting. If he’s already troubled about the trickle of hate mail flowing into his inbox, what will happen when it becomes a torrent?
And I myself am not one of the authors of the nasty emails he receives. Because I can’t be bothered to write to Dobbo. I instead devote 99.99% of my attention to the persecuted smokers themselves, trying to make them even angrier than they already are, and supplying them with copious numbers of reasons why they should be angrier. Because I think that if just 1% of the world’s smokers can be made angry enough, it’ll create a tsunami that will sweep Dobbo and all his chums to kingdom come. With no planning. And no orchestration. And no financing.
“Good and decent people are being targeted by trolls as well as all the different groups… industry [and] so-called think tanks with undisclosed funding sources.
Well, I’m sure that Dobbo and Deborah and Stan and all the rest of them like to think of themselves as “good and decent people.” But I don’t. I think they’re all bastards. I think that people who have devoted much of their lives to persecuting smokers (and who now extend their persecution to vapers, drinkers, fat people, etc.) are very, very nasty people indeed. Which is why I regularly call for the complete destruction of Tobacco Control, and why I actually believe that Tobacco Control will be closed down one day, and many of its practitioners put on trial for Crimes Against Humanity. For we will hunt them to the ends of the earth.
We already know quite a lot about how they justify their actions to themselves. They have managed to persuade themselves that they are “helping” smokers, as if “exiling them to the outdoors” (Deborah’s phrase) could ever be anything but grievously harmful. And we know that they like to think of themselves as “saving lives”, despite being unable to produce a single example of a “saved life”, and while disregarding the slowly mounting number of real lives lost as a direct consequence of their predations and hate-mongering.
I think it’s going to become harder and harder for these people to keep on telling themselves that they’re doing “good” (or like Dobbo, telling themselves that they’re actually some sort of “superhero”) as their justifications get repeatedly ripped to shreds. At the moment there seem to be enough of them to not only tell themselves the same string of lies and falsehoods every day, but to also tell each other at their regular conferences. But I wouldn’t be surprised if morale in Tobacco Control is already dwindling. In fact, this complaining essay is evidence of exactly that.