One Single Complaint

Hat tip Nisakiman:

If it’s your health the St. Paul City Council is worried about, then they apparently will have to take under consideration banning, at your gas station, Air Heads Xtremes Sweetly Sour Candy Rainbow Berry. We can’t get those kids hooked on sugar.

The danger of one-party rule is the absence of a counterweight to their capricious whims and constant need to showcase their virtue. The council wants to prevent gas stations, convenience stores, liquor stores and grocery stores from selling menthol cigarettes and mint and wintergreen smokeless tobacco. We are all in agreement that we are better off not smoking, but the products are legal and the council was not elected to pick and choose the products that Sean Kiger can sell at his Minnoco station at Snelling and Randolph.

And the author goes on to add:

Every time the council in a one-party town climbs onto their grandstand — never mind the holes in the streets or your about-to-skyrocket property taxes — you have to wonder what will be next. The bigger Big cinnamon roll, Hot and Spicy Cheez-its, Gummi Bears, Nacho cheese dip, Cheddar and Sour Cream Pringles?

Indeed, what will they ban next? Furry teddy bears? The Stars and Stripes?

I came across another example of this yesterday:

A market trader has been banned from having a stall after selling Knights Templar coffee mugs – in case they upset Muslims. Tina Gayle, 57, who was previously warned for selling books and CDs featuring Nazi swastikas, was ordered to remove the £6 mugs from her stall after Charnwood Borough Council received a complaint they were offensive.

The council climbed down:

Council bosses have admitted they were wrong to ban a market trader from selling Knights Templar mugs.

Officials at Charnwood Borough Council have apologised after banning Tina Gayle from selling the items bearing images and slogans of the Crusading order from a stall on Loughborough Vintage Market.

The council said it took the decision after it received a single complaint that the mugs were offensive from a customer.

But would they have climbed down if there hadn’t been an outcry? How many people have been banned from selling one thing or other who have just quietly dropped that item, powerless in the face of the omnipotent council/government? It took an effort by Tina Gayle to get that ban overturned. How many people will make the effort?

And if one single complaint isn’t enough to justify banning Knights Templar mugs, then would ten complaints be sufficient?

Along similar lines:

British police forces arrested at least nine people a day for “offensive” online comments last year.

Figures obtained by The Times through the Freedom of Information Act reveal that 3,395 people across 29 forces were arrested last under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003, which makes it illegal to intentionally “cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another”, in 2016.

The true figure is likely to be significantly higher, as thirteen police forces refused to provide the requested information and two did not provide usable data.

Around half of the investigations were abandoned before being brought to prosecution, which critics say is an indication that the authorities are being excessively strict in their interpretation of the law’s restrictions on freedom of speech.

Annoyance. Inconvenience. Needless anxiety.

Aren’t the increasingly strident health warnings on tobacco products causing “needless anxiety”? So when are the police going to arrest Deborah Arnott?

Both annoyance and anxiety are psychological responses by people to something or other. They are judgments made about them: I don’t like that. I don’t approve of that. This worries me. 

But inconvenience means that action of some sort needs to be taken. It’s not just a psychological response: it’s a physical response. When I come to an obstacle or hole in the road, I have to step round it. Or walk round it. Or turn around, and go back and find another way round. What I feel about the hole in the road is a separate matter. I may be glad that at last the council is putting in some new drains. Or annoyed that my neighbour has left another grand piano out on the street after one of his all night parties.

Isn’t there a big difference between what people think, and what they do? It seems to me that the psychological responses of people to the same event may be very different from one person to the next. They may approve or disapprove, or be pleased or angry or sad or amused. But everyone must step around an obstacle or hole in the road. Or do something about it.

I’m inclined not to be too bothered what anyone may feel about something, and far more concerned with what they had to do about it. So for example, given various actresses’ encounters with Harvey Weinstein, I’m less concerned with what they felt (shock, dismay, fear) about it than what they did about it (fight him off, run away, lock themselves in the bathroom). And with what many of them apparently didn’t do afterwards (complain).

Harvey Weinstein seems to have been causing annoyance and needless anxiety to a lot of women, but he seems to have inconvenienced relatively few of them.

The same applies with soldiers in war. I’m less concerned with what they might feel (terror, despair) than with what is done to them (undergo physical injury or death).

Is that a reasonable distinction to make?

Another one:

UK to Imprison People Who View ‘Far-Right Propaganda’ Online for Up to 15 Years
People in the United Kingdom could face up to fifteen years in prison for repeatedly viewing “far-right propaganda” or “terrorist material” online, according to a report.

According to the Guardian, “A new maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment will also apply to terrorists who publish information about members of the armed forces, police and intelligence services for the purposes of preparing acts of terrorism,” while the “tightening of the law around viewing terrorist material is part of a review of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy following the increasing frequency of terrorist attacks in Britain this year.”

Users who view the forbidden content only once by mistake, or out of curiosity, will not be charged, and it is reported that there will also be protections for journalists, academics, and “others who may have a legitimate reason to view such material.”

What’s “far-right”? Since this report is on Infowars, might it not just be itself “far-right propaganda”? Might not reading the Daily Telegraph be deemed to be “viewing far-right propaganda” filled with “terrorist material”?

And who determines whether something is “”far-right”, or “propaganda” or “terrorism”?


About Frank Davis

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18 Responses to One Single Complaint

  1. nisakiman says:

    UK to Imprison People Who View ‘Far-Right Propaganda’ Online for Up to 15 Years
    People in the United Kingdom could face up to fifteen years in prison for repeatedly viewing “far-right propaganda” or “terrorist material” online, according to a report.

    ‘Far right propaganda’ is a pretty broad brushstroke. And what about ‘Far-Left Propaganda’? Do people face 15 years for viewing that too? Or is ‘Far-Left’ ok?

    We are at the top of a very, very slippery slope here. It won’t be too long before we have a separate offshoot of the police force dedicated to prosecuting people for thought crimes. which is a thoroughly chilling, but very likely prospect.

    I wonder what Orwell would make of the current situation? His books were remarkably prescient. It’s almost as if his writings are being used as a blueprint.

  2. Clicky says:

  3. Timothy Goodacre says:

    Yes its all right to be left wing in the UK but express right wing views and you risk arrest.

  4. nisakiman says:

    Another little snippet from across the pond, this time from the Democratic Socialist Republic of California:

    “This bill would prohibit, on and after January 1, 2019, a pet store operator from selling a live dog, cat, or rabbit in a pet store unless the dog, cat, or rabbit was obtained from a public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter, humane society shelter, or rescue group, as defined, that is in a cooperative agreement with at least one private or public shelter, as specified.

    So no more pedigree breeds for Californians, they gotta be strays from the dog pound. Not a million miles away from banning menthol fags – same principle.

    WE have decided that we know what’s best for you, so you will no longer be allowed to buy any variation from the generic.”

    • waltc says:

      And don’t forget that in CA you can now be fined or jailed for using the wrong pronoun when talking to or about someone who ‘identifies” as a sex other than the apparent one. I also read an article in the NY Post about a large group of people who identify as animals and costume themselves as such. In CA when you come upon a man dressed as a dog , I wonder if you can be busted for not calling him Fido or referring to him as “it.”

      More seriously, all of this stuff is deeply scary and eerily dystopian. Here, at least, we have a First Amendment, tho it’s increasingly honored in the breach. Public “outrage” can get you fired, campus “outrage” can get you silenced but at least you can’t be arrested.

  5. Smoking Lamp says:

    Speaking of the Knights Templar, they were attacked and falsely accused of being heretics and disbanded. Looks like we are living in the age of a secular inquisition or great witch hunt. Attacks on speech, intolerance, false accusations… All of these dominate antismoker astroturf comments and the methodology is used to fabricate antismoking propaganda and junk science. Seems ideology when driven to the extreme is prone to hysteria and brutal attacks on dissidents. In addition to the early Catholic Church being targeted by the Romans, the church used the same tactics against so-called heretics during the middle ages. Stalin used show trials and the Gulag to suppress dissent and Mao allowed the excesses of the Cultural Revolution to lead to genocide. Antismokers and lifestyle controllers are just the latest iteration of this madness they need to stopped.

  6. smokingscot says:

    Checked to see if Sean Hughes could have been one of those “celebrity comics” who fronted for one stoptober.

    NO! He was a smoker!

    And for the tobacco controllers who may try to make mileage out of his death, he was a heavy boozer and croaked of liver cirrhosis.

  7. Tony says:

    OT, for info:
    It seems the new UKIP leader Henry Bolton has announced that future UKIP plans will be based on the 2015 manifesto. That implies that the smoking room policy is back. The 2017 manifesto has been completely ditched.
    Having spoken of Anne Marie Waters in the past I thought I should add that although I have enormous respect for her, I’m relieved that she didn’t win the leadership. Nigel Farage strongly backed Henry Bolton so I’m hopeful about the party’s future.

  8. RdM says:

    I have an inkling or vague memory that it was a single complaint that tipped the balance for Auckland Zoo doing a no smoking policy, a typical drone comment from a pregnant woman wanting to sit down on a bench that a smoker was already on, and why couldn’t she be protected, the usual stuff,

    But today, this morning, I heard on the radio that Auckland City Council was voting on its 3rd tier next phase of its smoking in public spaces policy, itself I already know came from a single chairwoman’s casting vote against a dead tie, which should have been sent back for further discussion in any reasonable democracy, 7 for & 7 against, I looked up the minutes at the time, torturous enough to find, and who to complain to when the press are going ra ra, smokefree and one is struggling for survival (OK, the press & politicians, as one can) – and so again looked up the meeting agenda for this time, and there’s a youtube video of the session I can’t see yet, although it’s there, some browser tech problem, html5 on old hardware or software.

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