In the Smoky Drinky Bar last night, the Flat-Earth-related discussion came round to wondering why there were no air flights over Antarctica, and we got hold of a rather good 3D globe at MeteoEarth, with me saying that if you wanted to fly from Australia to South America, or New Zealand to South Africa, you’d probably need to overfly Antarctica, and everyone else disagreeing with me.
In the process of spinning the globe, we came across an island in the southern Indian ocean, and zoomed in to take a look at it, and I recognised it to be Desolation Island or the Kerguelen Islands.
I recognised it because this was the remote island to which I proposed last year to banish Deborah Arnott and her fellow antismoking zealots. It would not be in any way a form of punishment for them, because I have no doubt whatsoever that they would all love to live on an entirely “smoke-free” island swept by bracing, near-continuous, 100 mph winds. The glacier atop the island would no doubt delight them just as much, and they would probably build their preferred open-sided (wall-free?) dwellings as near as they could to it.
And it set me thinking once again of the old punishment of exile or transportation, which was used in England in the 17th century to transport convicted felons to colonies, initially America, but later Australia. The French did much the same with Devil’s Island. And of course after his defeat at Waterloo, no less a person than Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to the island of St Helena, in the southern Atlantic ocean.
So I’m thinking of reviving the the ancient practice of transportation. For I think that Deborah Arnott and her ilk are felons, even if they have yet to be convicted of any felony. According to Wikipedia
The term felony, in some common law countries, means a serious crime. The word originates from English common law (from the French medieval word “félonie”), where felonies were originally crimes that involved confiscation of a convicted person’s land and goods. Other crimes were called misdemeanors. Many common law countries have now abolished the felony/misdemeanor distinction and replaced it with other distinctions, such as between indictable offences and summary offences. A felony is generally considered a crime of high seriousness, while a misdemeanor is not.
And according to etymonline:
felon (n.) c. 1300, “one who deceives or commits treason; one who is wicked or evil; evil-doer,” used of Lucifer and Herod, from Old French felon “evil-doer, scoundrel, traitor, rebel, oath-breaker, the Devil” (9c.), from Medieval Latin fellonem (nominative fello) “evil-doer,” which is of uncertain origin, perhaps from Frankish *fillo, *filljo “person who whips or beats, scourger” (source of Old High German fillen”to whip”); or from Latin fel “gall, poison,” on the notion of “one full of bitterness.” Celtic origins also have been proposed.
According to the same source, a felon could also be a “cock-sucker.”
…Latin fellare “to suck” (see fecund), which had an obscene secondary meaning in classical Latin (well-known to readers of Martial and Catullus), which would make a felon etymologically a “cock-sucker.”
And this would seem to perfectly describe the likes of Arnott and her antismoking chums: they are all poisonous little cock-suckers, full of bitterness.
But what exactly is their crime? And what makes it a serious crime, and a felony?
I suppose for the most part when we think of serious crimes we think of violent crimes like murders and bank robberies in which a large injury is done to a few people. And there can be little doubt that neither Deborah Arnott nor her fellow antismokers are guilty of crimes of this sort.
No, what I am thinking about is small crimes that are committed against very large numbers of people. And it is this sort of crime for which I would arraign Deborah Arnott. She would be charged with conspiring and acting to remove the small freedom of being able to sit in a pub and drink a pint of beer and smoke a cigarette from millions of smokers. And I would argue that taking away small freedoms from millions of people is as bad as taking away large freedoms (e.g. their lives) from a few people (murder victims). So if the crime of murder is a million times worse than the crime of banning smoking in pubs, then banning a million smokers from smoking in pubs is the equal or equivalent of a single act of murder.
In fact I think that the crime being perpetrated against smokers is much worse that this, for in the approach of Idle Theory the cost to someone of being murdered is their lifetime, and this has a maximum duration of 80 or 90 years. The cost to someone of being prevented from going for a half hour drink and smoke every day would amount, over a lifetime, to 90 (years) times 365 (days in a year) times 0.5 (hours), or 16,425 hours. And given some 10 million smokers in Britain, this would be 164,250,000,000 hours or about 235,000 lifetimes. This is, quite simply, mass murder.
In her defence, Deborah Arnott would probably argue that nobody was actually murdered by smoking bans (although even this contestable), and counter that smoking had killed well over 235,000 people in Britain, and far from costing anyone their lives, smoking bans had saved hundreds of thousands – perhaps even millions – of lives.
But where is the evidence of all these lives that she supposes that she has saved? Can she produce a single person in Britain who is alive today who would not have been but for the smoking ban she helped introduce? And the answer is, No she cannot produce a single person. For the numbers of people she supposes to be killed by smoking is not the product of carefully acquired evidence, but is the product of a calculation – and a calculation exactly like the one which I have just performed, based on certain suppositions.
And in fact, although she would be unable to produce any evidence of any lives saved by her smoking ban, I would be able to produce hundreds of thousands of real people who would testify that before the ban they used to enjoy many hours every night in smoky pubs, and have never enjoyed a single such hour since. This is what they lost. And they would be able to produce witnesses in their support.
In fact, such would be the weight of evidence that the trial might be prolonged for years, as the evidence of hundreds of thousands of people was presented one by one to the court.
Can there be any doubt that judge or a jury would find Arnott guilty of doing far more real harm than any imaginary good she claimed to have done?
And can there be any doubt, that in passing sentence upon her and her co-defendants, the judge would not hesitate to impose a term of Lifetime Transportation to Desolation Island on every single one of the nasty cock-suckers? And the judge might add that he hoped that they would greatly enjoy their lives there.