I had an interesting conversation yesterday.
It would properly have been called a debate, but it was on Twitter and I quickly discovered that Twitter is fuck all use for debating, as well as everything else. How the hell can you expand on a topic when you are hamstrung to 140 letters?
It all started when a chap who follows me [and I follow him] posted a Tweet about Finian McGrath and his call for designated smoking areas in pubs and bars. Unfortunately the article was behind a paywall, but it was soon picked up by the Irish Times.
My friend [I’ll call him Bob for the sake of the exercise] said:
"Daft, dangerous and irresponsible".
Now I'm not the argumentative sort and I am absolutely crap at debating but in a fit of madness I replied:
"As distinct from sensible, tolerant and giving adults the right to choose?"
The reply when it came surprised me a bit:
"right to choose what ? Country is better since smoking ban came in. And will be better as smoking eliminated."
Now here is where the limitations of Twitter come into play. The concept of a whole country being better intrigued me but naturally had to reply in shorthand:
"How is country better? The ban hasn't changed a thing apart from many pub closures and forcing many into isolation?"
Now Bob chose to deflect that slightly but that is his prerogative:
"becomes socially less acceptable to smoke. Leads to less smoking. Name a person who'd EVER want their child to smoke".
Which doesn't really answer why the country should be better off and just raises the question as to why being "less acceptable" should be a good thing. I was frankly a bit disappointed at the "cheeeldren" card being played so early in the game and decided to ignore it as doubtless it would be played again. I replied:
"Who determines what is "acceptable"? Smacks of gross intolerance to a minority."
The reply was prompt enough:
"jaysus intolerance to a minority. You can still smoke. You just can't poison other people"
Wow! I can still smoke? Yes I can, provided I pay massive taxes and stand out in the rain? That's akin to saying that immigrants are welcome provided they live in tents on Achill Island. And as for the "poisoning other people" bit, I could write essays on that, but once again my hands are tied by Twitters limitations. I decided to throw a wobbler:
"Grew up in an age of tolerance where smoking was rife. No one died from SHS. That's a scam to scare non-smokers."
Again I got a swift response:
"grew up in an age where had to put up with smoking. Glad its over. Lot less first hand smokers now too. Thats also a good thing"
In my early days people didn't "have to put up with" anything. They hadn't been taught to hate smokers so they accepted it as a perfectly normal thing. But there is a new question here – why should a non-smoker [I’m taking a wild guess that Bob is a non-smoker?] be "glad it's over"? Why would he be glad that there are a lot less non-smokers? Could it be that he is glad that people are being forced into his viewpoint? Could it be that he is delighted that people who chose a lifestyle different from his should be forced against their will to conform to his ideology? I decided to address that little question head on:
"Why is it a good thing for me to quit? [for example]"
Sadly he didn't answer that one which is a great pity. He played he "cheeeldren" card instead:
"have grandkids? Do you want them to smoke ?"
Now that card pisses me off. They love to use the kids as moral hostages and he still hadn't answered my question so I replied:
"Daughter smokes. Her choice as an adult. Up to her to bring up her kids. Why do you want me to quit?"
"I don't really care if you quit. I just don't want other people to start a dangerous addictive habit. Fewer that do the better"
So he is delighted that people are quitting but doesn't care if I do? I find that a bit strange? And why does he care? Why is he so concerned about what other people do? Why is it any of his business? I didn't want to be rude so I decided not to ask the last question directy but to hit it in a roundabout way:
"What about other "dangerous" things such as sports? Are they acceptable?"
I was saddened by his reply as it missed the point entirely:
"never seen swimming or tennis as that dangerous"
Before I could reply, I got another:
"and 90% of people begin smoking before they're adults so there's that too"
In fact a lot of people die from drowning each year and while tennis is relatively safe, I would like to know his opinion on Rugby or Boxing for example, but here again I am retrained by Twitter's limitations. Anyway, we are back on the cheeeldren card again, are we? I can only assume that Bob's distaste for smoking is to prevent kids from taking it up? I replied
"But the law already says they are not allowed so what's point of new laws? And sports injuries are a big thing."
"because they've brought smoking down from 30% of population to 20% of population since 2003. And thats a good thing."
Now he still doesn't explain why this is a "good thing". I really wanted to know why he cares so much. He sneers at the suggestion of intolerance to a minority yet is delighted when that minority is forced into the majority viewpoint.
I had one last shot at reason:
"Smoking was in decline anyway. No law since 2003 has changed the rate of decline."
He never replied so presumably he was getting tired of me. That was fine by me as I was getting tired of me too.
I would love to have expanded further. I would love to have debated the Enstrom & Kabat study. I would loved to have discussed the Nanny State Index, and how the worst nannying has no bearing on smoking rates. I would love to have asked him how the gubmint would make up the enormous shortfall if they lost all tobacco revenue.
Most of all though, I would love to know why one person apparently hates smokers so much.