Well, I said that Hillary Clinton would win the debate if she simply showed up, remained standing, and didn’t have a coughing fit. And she did exactly that, so that was a big win for her. More than that, she even came over as quite sprightly.
So what were the opinion polls showing? When I looked this morning Time had it dead even at 50 – 50, MSNBC had Trump winning 60 – 40, and Drudge had Trump ahead 80 – 20. Left wing blogs were calling it a big victory for Hillary.
So maybe the health scare is dead? Maybe she really did just have a bout of pneumonia or flu and now that’s over and she’s just fine, and won’t be dropping out of the race?
If there was any difference between them, it lay in the pre-debate prep. For it seems that Hillary spent pretty much the entire past week practising for the debate, cancelling scheduled appearances. And Trump didn’t practise at all (to the dismay of some of his team), but instead stuck to a gruelling schedule of rallies (4 in 3 days).
Trump is spontaneous. And Hillary is planned. And that’s also the difference between capitalism and communism.
Elsewhere Dick Puddlecote in Hide The Filthy Smoker:
Smoking should be banned in all parks and playgrounds to reduce the chances of children growing up thinking that using cigarettes is normal, environmental health officers have told ministers.
Zoos, theme parks and anywhere else children play should also become no-smoking zones, in a significant proposed expansion of the outdoor areas in which smokers cannot light up.
Nothing to do with health and safety any more, and everything to do with denormalising smoking.
Which had me wondering, not for the first time, how norms get set. The antismokers seem to think that norms can be changed by changing the law. They think that if you ban smoking, you create an environment in which smoking is no longer normal, and people will conform to this new normality: the new normality will become the norm. And this is what they’ve always done: they always use the law. They always use top-down control.
But is that actually the way norms get set? In my experience, there are very often situations where there are no formal rules or laws, and the norms emerge out of a process of negotiation between people.
For instance, when boy meets girl. I’ve never heard of any laws or rules governing what happens in that situation – except maybe when there were chaperones. What actually happens is a kind of negotiation between the two. It’s a learning process.
In fact, it’s what happens when anyone meets anyone, anywhere.
The last time I can remember being under top-down control was when I was at school 50 years ago. Since then, pretty much every social environment I’ve known has had minimal rules, maximum negotiation. That includes shared flats, workplaces, pubs, restaurants, parties, beaches.
50 years on, school rules still seem as arbitrary and pointless as they did back then. No hands in pockets. Why? No running? Why? No talking in the classroom. Why? And if the school rules were supposed to define a normality in which people didn’t smoke or drink, and wore suits and nicely polished shoes, and didn’t speak or run or put their hands in their pockets, it was pretty unsuccessful – at least in my case. Because when I left school I never wore a suit again in my life. And hardly ever wore nicely polished shoes either. And kept my hands in my pockets. And, of course, started smoking and drinking.
It simply didn’t work. If anything, school rules denormalised suits, shiny shoes, silence, and non-smoking. And in the same way, compulsory school games of football, cricket, and rugby, plus compulsory long distance runs, pretty much made sure that I never played any of those games ever again. I think if we’d had compulsory golf and snooker and swimming, I’d have never played those games either.
So I don’t think that the attempt to denormalise smoking is going to work either. In fact, in a few years time, I expect that smoking will become more normal than ever. I expect to see TV newsreaders with lighted cigarettes. Game show hosts with cigarettes. World leaders’ discussions wreathed in smoke in smoke-filled rooms. And you’ll know who the villains are in movies, because they’ll be the ones that don’t smoke.
The antismokers are – like Hillary Clinton – planners and top-down controllers. I suppose that if they currently have such influence in government, it’s because government is essentially planned top-down control. And it all looks fine and dandy until they lose control and their plans don’t work. And that’s what’s going to happen. It’s not going to work, just like school rules only worked while you were in school, and stopped working the moment you left school. They’re not going to be able to de-normalise smoking because they can’t control norms. They may be able to change laws, but norms aren’t laws, so changing a law won’t change any norm, just like school rules didn’t change – couldn’t change – the students’ norms, which they already had when they first came to school. And when it finally becomes painfully obvious to everyone that they’re getting nowhere, and it’s a waste of money, and they haven’t de-normalised anything, all these top-down controlling organisations – governments, the EU, the UN, the WHO, Tobacco Control – will be discredited. And, with luck, in the subsequent absence of top down control, they’ll be replaced by a new spontaneity.
I thought Dick Puddlecote was hyper-ventilating a bit over it all. Chris Snowdon too. The reality is that Tobacco Control is attempting the impossible: they can’t de-normalise smoking. Nor can they de-normalise anything else. They haven’t got the tools to do it. And it’s precisely because de-normalisation doesn’t work that they keep having to dream up new de-normalisation schemes. And the new schemes won’t work either.