I wasn't blogging over Easter, but here's a bit of good reading if you haven't had the pleasure already...
At Spiked, Patrick Basham pulls apart the recent 'junk food is like heroin' garbage:
Proving that junk food is addictive is a crucial final step in the War on Obesity. As long as the debate over obesity is framed in terms of choice, autonomy, and responsibility, the advocates of aggressive and overwhelming state action will face considerable problems getting many of their policy proposals accepted.
Meanwhile, there's no sign of the medical establishment's God complex wearing off in Britain, where those nice people at the British Medical Association want to ban smoking in the home. Leg-Iron is mad as hell and he's not going to take it any more:
We smokers have attempted compromise at every turn. We have not demanded all the pubs back, we have asked for some. We have asked for private smoker's clubs, staffed by smokers, but have been refused. The ban is total. No compromise at all. And we are called 'selfish'.
We are also called many other names, any of which, if applied to one of the government's pet groups, would get the name-caller arrested. We smokers are expected to shut up and get out of the way because we are inferior.
I say 'enough'.
Frank Davis has also had enough:
Push smokers too far, and they'll fight back. Push antismokers too far, and they'll fight back too. In many ways we already have a civil war. We have a civil war that is being conducted by antismokers against smokers. At some point, when smoking was ubiquitous, the antismokers probably got pushed too far. And they set out to fight smoking with everything they had. It's an unrelenting war. It never stops. Antismokers are trying to completely wipe out smokers. And it's only a matter of time before smokers start fighting back, and set out to completely wipe out antismokers, because now they're being driven too far too.
On a very different note, Google have put a very rare anti-tobacco tract from 1854 on-line (for download as PDF). Titled O tempora! O mores! A word to the wise on the use of tobacco and snuff, it gives a good insight into anti-tobacco sentiment in the days before they pretended it was only about health. Full of tall tales and hyperbole, it's an excellent example of anti-tobaccoism from that era:
These practices are of so filthy and disgusting a nature, and attended by so many evils, producing such fearful results to man, not only in a physical but a moral point of view, that it remains one of the most intricate problems how such practices can ever be tolerated amongst thinking people, much less become popular, to an extent so inconceivable as to be justly considered a national evil... [and so on for 100 pages]
It's worth noting that the whole treatise is not just against smoking but against chewing tobacco and snuff. Stopping smoking has never been the only goal; it has always been the aim to eliminate all forms of tobacco. Today's equivalent to snuff is the e-cigarette and today's equivalent to the Victorian anti-tobacco nut is John Banzhaf, who claims to have got e-cigarettes banned in the USA:
The importation of e-cigarettes will be banned indefinitely as the result of a unanimous ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Dick Puddlecote warned e-cigarette users than ASH were not their friends some time ago. In 2010, as in 1854, it is a moral crusade for people like Banzhaf. Puddlecote reminds us, once again, that you can't pick and choose which liberties you defend:
You're either libertarian, or you're not. You can't pick and choose which liberties you wish to keep, and which are OK to be stamped on. Bending an inch to these people just boosts their power and leads, eventually, to something being attacked which you hold dear.
But, in any case—and as the tireless Michael Siegel points out—Banzhaf is lying again:
While it is true that the FDA seized two shipments of electronic cigarettes, it is not true that the Agency has placed a ban on the importation of electronic cigarettes. To the best of my knowledge, these products continue to be imported and sold throughout the country. The FDA has certainly threatened to take enforcement action, but it has stopped short of formally banning the importation of the product, and to my knowledge, is not stopping these products from entering the country.
Finally, an election has been called for May 6. As I wrote some time ago, it will be interesting to see if Gordon Brown mentions the smoking ban when defending his record. I hope my readers will keep me posted. Otherwise, I will try not comment on politics for the next four weeks. I tend to agree with Simon Heffer at the Daily Telegraph:
As the campaign proceeds, the spectacle of inadequates on our television screens – Harriet Harman trying not to appear deranged by fanaticism, George "Sharing the proceeds of growth" Osborne trying to pretend he understands economics, or almost anyone from the Lib Dem front bench (except Dr Cable) trying to be taken seriously – may drive people either into the arms of the minnows, or abroad on holiday until the ghastliness is over...
The tedium to come can be obviated by not turning on the television for a few weeks. Newspapers, believe me, will ensure the diet of politics is kept to the minimum: our readers are precious to us, and we wish neither to bore them with the self-importance of politicians nor to insult them by bombarding them with propaganda. Strong drink and martial music may be useful. That still leaves the problem of how Britain will ever be run properly, whether by a tribal introvert who wishes to suffocate us with his "values", or a PR spiv whose "big idea" is to appoint 5,000 commissars to assist the development of "communities". There will be more absurdity yet. "Democracy," wrote Carlyle, "which means despair of finding any Heroes to govern you!" How right you were, Tom, how right you were.