Response to a Couple of Comments

I was writing yesterday that the 20th century was unique in the annals of history as being a time when it was possible to engage in the mass indoctrination of millions of people using one-way megaphone broadcast media, such as the printed press, radio, and television. And I suggested that the internet or worldwide web had inaugurated an era in which this sort of indoctrination had ceased to be possible.

In the comments Walt disagreed:

There’ve been a lot of collective brainwashings in the annals of history with no empirical backing and no mass media as we know it. . The sun revolves around the earth. Which is flat. Various whimsical gods control the weather. God created man as a separate species. Wait! no he didn’t. Sin causes disease….

I don’t think that it’s true to say that there is no empirical evidence for the idea that the Sun revolves around the Earth, and that the Earth is flat. For in fact, it is a matter of ordinary everyday experience (which is a form of empirical evidence) that the Sun does go round the Earth, and that the Earth is flat. Or at least it gives every appearance of being thus. It’s actually quite difficult to believe anything else. Can it be called “brainwashing” if people naturally and initially see things this way? Surely brainwashing is a process whereby one belief is replaced by another. After all, doesn’t washing imply that there needs to be some prior belief that needs to be washed away? Wouldn’t it be truer to say that it’s the people who believe that the Earth goes round the Sun, and that it is a spinning sphere, who have been brainwashed, because they have been “re-educated” out of the natural and normal idea that the opposite is the case.

And it still seems to be the case that various whimsical gods actually do control the weather, given our inability to predict what will happen in the atmosphere in the next few days, never mind the next few millennia (which is what the climate change furore is all about).

And don’t men (and women) seem to belong to a separate species? We wear clothes, while the animal kingdom does not. We build houses and cities, while the animal kingdom (apart from termites) does not. We speak languages, while animals just bark and grunt. Why on earth should we think that we are not some separate species?

Walt continues:

…it’s not the “smoking causes cancer (and heart attacks and blindness and impotence and wrinkles)” that caused the mischief, it’s the Secondhand Smoke (even brief outdoor whiffs) causes all the above plus asthma and SIDS….

But the SHS hysteria is built upon the original conviction that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer. It is a simple extension of that belief. As is the idea that Smoking Causes every disease known to man. Take away the original, foundational doctrine, and the entire edifice collapses.

Colin Smith disagrees with my assertion that the two-way, conversational internet subverts the one-way. megaphone, broadcast media of the 20th century.

I think you are wrong about the idea that the internet changes everything – in the long run at least. It is becoming all too clear that access to the internet is via corporate gatekeepers who have their own political sympathies. Their grip is tightening on what you are allowed to view, read and say,

I think it’s perfectly true that the corporate gatekeepers in Google, Facebook, Twitter. YouTube. etc, have their own political sympathies, and now act to de-platform people like Alex Jones and others on the alt-right.

But these corporations do not themselves constitute the entirety of the internet. They instead offer various different internet services. Google has a search engine. Facebook has an online community. Twitter allows short messages to be sent to millions of people. And they all have competitors. There are other search engines, like Bing. And to the extent that they act to de-platform the likes of Alex Jones, they will find themselves losing customers to those of their rivals who continue to offer them space.

Alex Jones has been banned from YouTube, but he still has his own website – InfoWars – on which it is possible to watch a live stream (I watched it briefly just now). It is certainly an inconvenience for him (and his viewers) to have been banned from YouTube and Twitter and Facebook, but he has not thereby been completely silenced, and I’m not sure that he can be completely silenced.

I might also add that I am myself one of these gatekeepers. I decide who gets a hearing on this blog, and who doesn’t. And I rigorously exclude antismokers. I block them and I ban them – simply because my political sympathies lie with smokers, and not with antismokers, and I want smokers to have a voice that they are denied elsewhere.

I could exclude lots of other people – e.g. leftwingers, global warming alarmists, europhiles, and people who like celery -.  but it’s really only smoking bans and antismokers about which I feel most strongly.

It may well be that the internet will eventually come under complete central control. But it hasn’t happened yet. I think I will know that this has happened when I turn on my computer one morning, and find that the only thing I can watch is the BBC, and that I must pay an annual £155 licence fee to do that. For then they will have converted the internet into another 20th-century one-way megaphone broadcast media platform.

About Frank Davis

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14 Responses to Response to a Couple of Comments

  1. smokingscot says:

    Nothing big deal about blocking anti’s.

    They ban all observers at their Conference of the Parties (COP). Last one held in Geneva, October 2018. Didn’t even need to vote on it; WHO arranged that beforehand.

  2. beobrigitte says:

    I might also add that I am myself one of these gatekeepers. I decide who gets a hearing on this blog, and who doesn’t. And I rigorously exclude antismokers. I block them and I ban them – simply because my political sympathies lie with smokers, and not with antismokers, and I want smokers to have a voice that they are denied elsewhere.

    I used to object to “gatekeepers” – I thought we lived in the lands of free speech. That until the anti-smokers proved to me we no longer do.

    But the SHS hysteria is built upon the original conviction that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer. It is a simple extension of that belief.

    The SHS hysteria imo was just a lever for dictating smoking bans. There was never a chance for Smoking bans as ‘everyone has the right to do whatever they like as long as they do it only to themselves’ was valid.

    I could exclude lots of other people – e.g. leftwingers, global warming alarmists, europhiles, and people who like celery -. but it’s really only smoking bans and antismokers about which I feel most strongly.

    Whats wrong with celery?

  3. Smoking Lamp says:

    O/T Well today is “No Smoking Day” (A sad comment on society in it’s own right.) As part of that orchestrated persecution of smokers the antismoking cult is promoting smoking bans at hospitals. See this article as an example: “We spend 10 minutes on No Smoking Day at Hull Royal Infirmary and it said a lot about what people think of it” at HullLive.

    It says “Smokers have been warned they will be removed if they light up on hospital grounds” And there is a poll https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/health/spend-10-minutes-no-smoking-2641095

  4. EG says:

    I smoke but I’m light smoker. I could go on and tell everyone how to smoke less like me. And a lot of light smokersfelt superior to hard smokers before.
    Then they invented electronic cigarettes and people who adjusted to them felt superior.
    And we all forgot that it would be way better if we didn’t feel a need to justify what we do as long as we are not hurting anyone.

  5. waltc says:

    You make interesting and (almost😊) convincing counter arguments, Frank. Yet, as for Part Two, I’m not so sure as you are about the future of the net, especially when the bent of its Minders is censoriously Progressive. . This last bastion of truly free speech is being increasingly censored and delisted (youtube, facebook) and if the search engines don’t list a site, no one who doesn’t already know it can find it.

  6. Clicky says:

  7. Mark Jarratt, Canberra, Australia says:

    I completed the online survey about the callous no smoking rules at Hull Royal Infirmary. HM QEII should remove the royal charter from that pack of sanctimonious bullies. Obviously atmospheric physics is not their strong point if they truly believe fleeting exposure to dilute tobacco smoke in the open air is a health hazard, then proving their spinelessness by leaving the enforcement task to a loudspeaker, shaming smokers with cancer references. That all just shows how irrational the fear and hatred based doctrine of anti-smoking fanaticism has become, a template which is a danger to free choice and personal autonomy. It was alarming to note that 60% of survey respondents adopted the fascist behavior control paradigm of prohibitionist zealots.

    If readers of this fine blog are able, motivated and have time, please contribute to the mix of survey responses at this sham consultation by responding to the risible loaded questions and perhaps pretend to be Australian.

    https://consultations.health.gov.au/population-health-and-sport-division/review-of-tobacco-control-legislation/

    I believe it is quite unlikely the snobbish elitist jobsworth bourgeois bully bureaucrats will check each and every response – time is running out (closes 18 March) so give the bullies an overdue serve for their latest useless proposals.

    The text of my reply is below and feel free to plagiarize!

    Response ID ANON-MQNK
    Submitted to Review of Tobacco Control Legislation
    Submitted on 2019-03-07 15:25:49

    Contact details and general demographics

    What is your name?

    Name:
    Mark Jarratt

    What is your email address?

    Email:
    gimprat@yahoo.com.au

    Are you a current smoker?

    Yes

    Are you a current e-cigarette user?

    No

    Are you providing a submission primarily as a representative of an organisation/professional association or consumer/individual?

    consumer/individual

    Australia’s obligations under Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC

    Are you or your organisation/professional association in any way associated or affiliated with the tobacco industry?

    No

    Are you or your organisation/professional association in any way associated or affiliated with the e-cigarette industry?

    No

    Have you or your organisation/professional association ever received services, assistance or support (whether monetary or non-monetary in nature) from the tobacco industry and/or the e-cigarette industry?

    No

    Australia’s obligations under Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC

    Have you or your organisation/professional association ever provided services, assistance or support (whether monetary or non-monetary in nature) to the tobacco industry and/or the e-cigarette industry?

    No

    Consultation questions – tobacco advertising

    What is working well in relation to the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992 and the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Regulation 1993?

    The various statutes prohibiting tobacco advertising are blatant censorship, unduly interfering in the ability of manufacturers to market their highly legal excessively taxed products, freely chosen by millions of Australians although tobacco advertising has been banned for decades. This indicates tobacco advertising does not have the behavioural modification powers claimed by tobacco control paternalists. If advertising had such power, smoking rates would be NIL, as only government approved QUIT OR DIE propaganda is legally permitted.

    Do you consider the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Regulation 1993 simple, clear and easy to read? If not, which elements of the regulation pose particular challenges and what changes would you suggest?

    The regulations are deeply illiberal and intrusive and should be repealed. Ease of reading is irrelevant when the threshold issue is what standing or moral authority do governments have to engage in mass scale lifestyle modification programs without the consent of those affected.

    What, if any, changes could be made to the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992 and the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Regulation 1993?

    Repeal all legislation which unfairly discriminates against the manufacturers and suppliers of a particular product. Otherwise, be consistent by introducing censorship of other products claimed to be harmful such as alcohol and “junk” food.

    Are there any studies that would support the measures that you are suggesting?:

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0167629600000540

    Do you consider the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Regulation 1993 (or provisions within) redundant, unnecessary or otherwise not fit-for-purpose?

    Yes, the provisions are patronizing, redundant, and useless. Such hyper regulation is evidence of significant government overreach, an insult to intelligence and lack of respect for individual choice.

    What is working well in relation to the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 and the Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011?

    The so called plain packaging of tobacco products legislation does not achieve the stated aims, and is a deeply illiberal example of appropriating the branding and trademarks of legitimate business as a vehicle for behavioural modification propaganda, interfering in the free market solely to appease anti-tobacco lifestyle control fanatics. The only post implementation review of the propaganda pack legislation was conducted by a leading proponent of “plain” packaging, predictably finding the policy was effective by blatant misuse of statistics. This is evidence of the absence of objective analysis and intellectual acuity applied to the failed plain packs policy. Evidence is “cherry picked” to bolster preconceived conclusions, while any facts contradicting such notions are ignored or suppressed.

    Do you consider the Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011 simple, clear and easy to read? If not, which elements of the legislation are difficult to understand and what changes would you suggest?

    The legislation is firmly based in narrow and unsophisticated hard coercive prohibitionist paternalism. The ease of understanding the provisions is irrelevant, as the legislation should be repealed in entirety.

    What, if any, changes could be made to the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 and the Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011?

    Completely repeal the Act and Regulations as a proven instance of failed intervention in the market, useless meddling when tobacco products are already obliged to be concealed from view at the point of sale, unjustified appropriation of intellectual property, a disrespectful insult to the free choices of smokers, and to the intelligence of those viewing tobacco packaging. Otherwise, be consistent and introduce plain packaging legislation for other targets of tax and ban prohibitionist wowsers, such as alcohol, sugar and “junk” food.

    Are there any studies that would support the measures that you are suggesting?:
    https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2780938

    What are the benefits to you associated with the current regulatory arrangements?

    There are no benefits at all for smokers under the current discriminatory and punitive Australian prohibitionist tobacco control regime. Smokers are treated as second class citizens with no voice in regulatory decisions which directly adversely affect millions of adults daily. The subjective lifestyle preferences of crusading moralistic anti-tobacco zealots are given exclusive priority, while smokers have no rights, other than the right to be targeted for officially sanctioned bullying, relentless QUIT OR DIE propaganda, bans and punitive excessive taxation.

    What are the costs to you associated with the current regulatory arrangements?

    Taxation of tobacco products at 900% ad valorem is a significant and unjustified impost. Smokers clearly unjustly subsidize other taxpayers, while shrill anti-smoking activists continuously demand yet more taxes and bans. Taxing products valued at AUD$20 on import (1 x carton of 200 cigarettes) at AUD$179.84 (current rates of import duty and GST, with more increases planned), can reasonably be described as state sanctioned theft, classically regressive, and unconscionable punishment of smokers by de facto prohibition. The socially divisive and illiberal hyper regulation of tobacco creates deadweight regulatory costs for all of Australian civil society, including empowering intolerant citizens to confront total strangers, even in the open air, and demand they cease smoking. The so called plain tobacco packs are a blatant insult to free choice and personal autonomy, with stratospheric taxes levied on a debased product.

    Do you consider that any of the legislation generates unnecessary administrative burden? If so, what changes could be made to address this?

    The current unjust prohibitionist hyper regulation of tobacco demonstrably creates deadweight regulatory costs while fuelling the black market, denying useful consumer information in favour of outright lies and “shock horror” propaganda, uglifying the built environment by shouty NO SMOKING signs, appropriating intellectual property by stealing branding, acting as a vector for corruption of law enforcement, and providing employment to sanctimonious rent seeking “public health” paternalists who believe they know best how other citizens should live. Tobacco control and government lifestyle regulation in general demonstrably does more harm than good, and should not receive any public funding. If support for zealous and intrusive tobacco controls is as strong as is claimed, there should be no need for such intrusive and draconian laws at all levels of government. Forcing proprietors of establishments such as bars to enforce anti-smoking provisions makes them untrained unlicensed tobacco control inspectors, with potential for additional adverse consequences (witness for example the tragic case of Dr Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann at Box Hill hospital).

    Do you consider that any of the Department of Healthâ■■s tobacco control legislation imposes unnecessary compliance costs on business, community organisations and individuals? If so, how could compliance costs be reduced?

    Yes, the costs of the current petty and intrusive wide ranging tobacco control legislation far outweigh any perceived or putative benefits to “public health”, merely a convenient fig leaf for single issue political activists to impose their preferences on other members of society with uncritical support by legislators. The costs to Australian society with corruption, black marketeering, and robberies of tobacco products, often involving violence, will continue to trend upwards while tobacco is now more valuable than pure silver bullion, solely as a result of excessive government taxes.

    Are there any other measures for tobacco control regulation that you think the Australian Government should consider and prioritise?

    Yes. All tobacco control provisions should be repealed forthwith, as proven examples of unjustified government overreach into individual lifestyle choices based in hard coercive paternalism. Australia should also withdraw from the anti free choice and anti industry (except industry purveyors of useless smoking “cures”) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. This loaded survey question implies yet more regulation is needed, when the existing failed illiberal regime already exceeds any test of reasonableness, balance and perspective, and is totally at odds with principles of free choice, ethical philosophy, and personal lifestyle autonomy. Tobacco prohibitionist lobbyists are exclusively heeded by government while those directly affected by their bullying persecution are denied a voice. If “public health” is the aim, government should have no reservations in prohibiting tobacco completely, foregoing the billions in revenue extorted from smokers annually.

  8. RdM says:

    Facebook Twitter & WhatsApp have been down today …

    For what insertions, one wonders …

    ~

  9. Joe L. says:

    Even though viewership is way down, the Antismokers are still using mainstream media to push their propaganda, hoping there are still gullible sheep tuning in.

    I’m in California for the week, and I’ve been turning the televsion on in my hotel room (one of the few remaining smoking rooms in the state) for background noise. It defaults to a local Fox station, and each night so far I have been subjected to at least one “advertisement” for the local Antismoking organization, “TobaccoFreeCA”.

    The one I just saw featured a young woman exiting a theatre or similar venue and lighting a cigarette. The camera follows her exhaled smoke (which doesn’t disperse at all) up to the second floor and into an apartment through a window which is open only about 1-2″. The camera continues to follow the (still undispersed) exhaled smoke into an adjacent room where a baby is lying in a crib. The camera then switches to the baby’s viewpoint, looking up from the crib, as the smoke further defies physics and literally concentrates into a thick cloud and descends upon the camera (baby). The camera then looks back down at the baby as it grabs at its nose is if it is repulsed by the smell. Absurdly unrealistic fearmongering propaganda. Makes me glad I 1.) haven’t watched broadcast television in years and 2.) don’t live in California (although after living in Washington for the past two years, I can attest that it’s pretty much just as bad for smokers there).

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