On The Beach Again

Reported in comments, this from California:

Smokers will continue to be able to light up at state beaches and parks after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Friday that would have banned smoking in both those places.

In his veto message, Brown suggested that the ban — which would have applied to cigarettes, cigars, marijuana and e-cigarettes — was overkill.

“If people can’t even smoke on a deserted beach, where can they?” Brown wrote. “There must be some limits to the coercive power of government.”

Brown also objected to the $485 penalty that violators would have been slapped with, calling it excessive.

This prompted thought.

Firstly surprise that Jerry Brown vetoed the bill. I imagine that more or less any other ‘progressive’ California politician would have readily assented to the bill, and thought nothing of it.

Secondly, given that Brown thinks there should be some limit to the coercive power of government, he sees the role of government as essentially coercive. He doesn’t seem to have any problem with that. Perhaps that’s his definition of government? It’s there to force people to do things.

In fact, ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’ seem to be the most coercive people around. They always seem to want more government, and more coercive government, to make people do things. Their ideal world seems to a sort of prison or boot camp where people are being told what to do the whole time. Conservatives and libertarians, on the other hand, seem to want to minimise government, and minimise coercion.

Tobacco Control always uses coercion against smokers. They are to be coerced and coerced and coerced until they finally do as they’re told, and stop smoking. They are to be coerced with smoking bans. They are to be coerced with propaganda messages. They are to be coerced with taxes. They are to be coerced by exile to the outdoors. They are to be coerced by eviction from their homes. They are to be coerced by denial of medical care. They are to be coerced in every way imaginable. And in fact Tobacco Control spends its entire time dreaming up new ways of coercing smokers to stop smoking. Banning smoking on beaches is another great new way of coercing smokers. There is no limit to the coercion they’ll use – something very well expressed in one of the comments under the article:

New bill: If you drop your cigarette butt on the beach you get executed on the spot. Your choice: Stabbed a hundred times and tossed into the ocean for the sharks. Cyanide capsule. Old fashioned wire garrote. Poison needle to the neck. Sound suppressed .45 ACP to the heart. It will take several thousand examples but I believe eventually the smokers will have serious second thoughts about flicking their butts all over the beaches.

But Jerry Brown seems to think that there must be limits to the coercive power of government. Perhaps as State governor, wielding the full coercive power of the state, he’s sometimes confronted by the question: how far can/should you go? Why not just execute the smokers on the spot, like the commenter suggested? What’s wrong with doing that? Is there anything wrong with it at all?

And if Brown thinks there must be limits to the coercive power of the state, it rather suggests that he doesn’t know where those limits lie. He doesn’t have an answer to that question. And maybe he’s hardly even able to ask it.

Tobacco Control (most likely in the form of Stanton Glantz) must be outraged at Brown for turning down another golden opportunity to coerce smokers. Because Tobacco Control would use unlimited coercion. Which is why they’ve come out in support of ISIS executing smokers in Syria. That’s what they would like to do. Tobacco Control is always working to push the limits of coercion to a new level. But they have to do it step by step. Once people have become acclimatised to one level of coercion, they can be introduced to the next heightened level of coercion. And there’s no top limit.

I somehow imagine that Jerry Brown will be eventually prevailed upon to sign the bill. And if he won’t, he’ll be replaced by somebody who will. Look at the mess.

In the comments, and in the photo at the top of the piece, the focus was mostly on cigarette butts rather than secondhand smoke. You’d almost think that smokers visited beaches simply to litter them with butts, perhaps not bothering to actually smoke them. They just go down to the beaches, and empty their cigarette packs straight onto the beach unsmoked – perhaps finally crumpling up the pack, and leaving that behind as well in its torn cellophane wrapping.

It raised the question of what is and isn’t ‘litter’. Beaches are littered with all sorts of stuff. They usually littered with sand. Quite often they’re littered with pebbles as well. And they’re littered with seashells, which are the dead bodies of animals. In the photo there are bottle tops and straws and even a peanut shell.

The natural world is full of natural litter. It’s full of animal excrement and the corpses of plants and animals. Trees litter the ground with their leaves.

But nobody ever regards this natural litter as ‘litter’. It’s only what humans leave behind that is regarded as ‘litter’. Bottles, beer cans, cigarette butts, napkins. It’s only litter of this sort that spoils the beach. In fact, the presence of humans seems always to entail spoilage. Hence “unspoiled” regions, where nobody lives. As soon as humans show up anywhere, they despoil it, apparently. We humans seem not to regard ourselves as part of the natural world, but as invaders and interlopers who shouldn’t be there at all. Thinking of this sort seems to underlie environmentalist thinking: we shouldn’t be here.

But the natural world doesn’t seem too bothered. It just grinds everything down to dust. It grinds rocks down to pebbles and sand. It grinds seashells down into bright white sand. And it’ll grind bottles down into sand, because sand is what they are made of. And it’ll do much the same with beer cans and napkins and cigarette butts and oil slicks and plastic.

There are Pacific atolls whose waters are littered with debris of war. Ships, planes, guns. The bottom of the sea is everywhere littered with sunken ships. The wreck of the Titanic is a very large piece of human litter lying at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean. But this – and many other such wrecks – are protected. They are pieces of litter that must not be picked up. They are sacred places. In some cases they are even war graves.

Beaches are perhaps the breaker’s yards on which the natural world breaks things down to dust. They’re garbage tips. The beach is a scrapyard or junkyard in which everything is slowly being hammered to smithereens. The waves breaking on the beach are the hammer blows of nature’s smithie, and the beach his anvil. And the tides are the occasional sweep of his hand to remove the broken pieces. Taking the family to the beach is like taking the family to a used car scrapyard, to sit among the rusting wreckage eating sandwiches and drinking coke while watching cars being crushed. Why should anyone complain about bottles or cans or napkins or butts on a garbage tip?

About Frank Davis

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15 Responses to On The Beach Again

  1. Emily says:

    I’m surprised by Brown’s veto as he was the subject of the Dead Kennedy’s 1978 song “California Über Alles”: http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/12497/

  2. Clicky says:

  3. Tony says:

    A commenter, Philip Neal, on Junican’s blog has just created a website about smoking sceptic Philip Burch. Looks fascinating http://philipneal.net/burchcurve/

  4. Smoking Lamp says:

    Governor Brown voted similar legislation on beach and park smoking bans last year..; so this is his second ban on the topic. No doubt the antismokers will be back again. They never stop. It took them three ties ti raise taxes on cigarettes (the first two propositions failed; they one on the third).

    The rational for basing beach smoking bans on cigarettes bust is a propaganda tool. The butts as noted don;t cause anywhere near the damage suggested. They have exaggerated the effects for dramatic purposes and suppress all conflicting data (again a standard tobacco control tactic). Beyond that, littering (including cigarette butts) is already against the law (an infraction under the penal code) in California so there is no need for additional legislation of the topic.

    The tactic of seeking outdoor bans (at beaches and parks; as well as in downtown districts) is another step toward incremental prohibition. Since calls for these bans are increasingly hoping up worldwide with accompanying media and information operations plans it is likely they are globally co-ordinated. Consider the recent beach smoking bans in Thailand were followed by an article in the Telegraph advocating beach smoking bans in the UK.

    • waltc says:

      I don’t know that it’s coordinated; it’s more like a contagion, a contagious disease, or Sheldrake’s “morphic resonance.” Certainly the WHO coordinates international propaganda, and billionaire wannabe dictators like Bloomberg go around the world funding campaigns, but I think it’s more like “the idea whose time has (supposedly) come,” another progressive idea of progress.

      Funny but I do recall butt- littering beaches–from California to Long Island to a string of Carribbean islands and the French Riviera–back when everyone did, and no one complained because cigarettes were just cigarettes, not symbols of toxic decadence with the power to cause death to innocents even when dead and buried. OTOH, I never recall leaving cans or food or any other crap on a beach as they do now, and no one else did either. I guess there are also fashions in litter.

      • Joe L. says:

        There is definitely global coordination, or at least coercion, to implement Antismoking policies. Take the FCTC, for example. Countries that don’t “get with the program” will not receive funding from the WHO.

  5. jaxthefirst says:

    Cigarette butts are very biodegradable (far more than a lot of the other litter seen on our beaches and parks and, indeed, in the picture you show, Frank, the only thing which will probably biodegrade quicker is the peanut shell!). Some while ago, I heard an enthusiastic anti-smoking campaigner defending littering fines for smokers (just smokers, natch), breathily informing the radio presenter that “cigarette butts take around nine months to biodegrade.” Sadly, the presenter (obviously not a gardener) didn’t take the opportunity to point out to her that that’s around about the time that it takes any biodegradable items to decompose! Anyone who has a garden compost bin knows that. It’s common sense, really, isn’t it? With not far short of a century of filter-tipped cigarettes behind us, and considering the vast number of cigarettes smoked right up until the late 1980s (and the not-inconsiderable number smoked afterwards), if cigarette butts weren’t biodegradable, we’d all – literally – be up to our necks in them by now. But we’re not, are we?

    • Smoking Lamp says:

      That’s certainly true as harley used to remind us from time to time. Does anyone have a copy of his old posts on the biodegradable properties of cigarette butts?

    • RdM says:

      “Sadly, the presenter (obviously not a gardener) didn’t take the opportunity to point out to her that that’s around about the time that it takes any biodegradable items to decompose! Anyone who has a garden compost bin knows that. It’s common sense, really, isn’t it? With not far short of a century of filter-tipped cigarettes behind us, and considering the vast number of cigarettes smoked right up until the late 1980s (and the not-inconsiderable number smoked afterwards), if cigarette butts weren’t biodegradable, we’d all – literally – be up to our necks in them by now. But we’re not, are we?”

      Indeed. Here’s a fairly down to earth opinion agreeing with you.

      Original website seems down briefly.

  6. waltc says:

    Fyi’s: update from Vegas. Sheriff has now re-reversed the timeline back to what it originally was. It also seems to be confirmed that there were no cameras in the hallways.

    • Joe L. says:

      Yup. Everything continues to make less and less sense with each LVMPD press conference.

      A few days ago, MGM (the owners of Mandalay Bay) publicly announced that they disagreed with the timeline in which the security guard was shot 6 minutes prior to the concert shooting. That timeline made them liable for the delay in response and subject to huge lawsuits. I have a feeling they paid off the LVMPD to change the timeline back. This “investigation” is a complete shitshow.

    • Joe L. says:

      Oh, and also the security guard who supposedly dodged 199 bullets and took only one in the leg was finally scheduled to do some interviews yesterday, but he apparently disappeared at the last minute. WTF? You couldn’t make this shit up if you tried!

      Vegas security guard’s disappearance baffles media, massacre timeline changes again

  7. Rose says:

    Researchers identify gene that influences nicotine dependence
    Oct 10, 2017

    “The variant that we identified is common, occurring in 44 percent of Europeans or European Americans and 77 percent of African Americans, and it exerts important effects on gene regulation in human brain, specifically in the cerebellum, which has long been overlooked in the study of addiction.”

    Good heavens, does that mean that nicotine patches actually work on these people as a substitute?

    Nicotine patches branded a waste of time as study finds they don’t help smokers quit long-term

    Nicotine is a only a precursor of Niacin.

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