Expanding the debate

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?"

The reply:

"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."

He replied:

"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.

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Expanding the debate — 10 Comments

  1. At least the junior minister Finian McGrath has gone public by saying he smokes and that smokers should be given facilities in pubs, trains and other public places. He is bang on when he says that "smokers are fed up being pushed around" by health regulations. Critics of the nanny state should support his openess and not let the pc brigade silence him. He is an Independent, isn't he?

    • He is at least raising the subject, which too many choose to ignore.  I heard a bit of Martin [the cunt who brought in the ban in the first place] on the radio today and he was dismissing the whole notion – "smokers love the ban", "all smokers want to quit", "studies based on sound research" – I wanted to throw up!

      McGrath is indeed an independent.  There were howls of protest aimed at him in the papers today.  I couldn't be bothered adding my hap'worth to the very one sided comments.  We are indeed a very tolerant society!

      • The howls of protest are great! Apply the scream test. The more publicity that his call for accommodation for people who enjoy tobacco (PETS) gets the better. Sometime somewhere, the verboten will break.

  2. I like to use cars instead of sport when this debate comes up. They are very dangerous, you can't avoid them unless you refuse to leave the house and you are in even more danger if you don't use a car, because that makes you a pedestrian or cyclist. Nearly 200 people are killed each year and 7000 injured, while poor air quality kills 3,400 people a year in Ireland, so it is claimed http://tinyurl.com/zyx8z9d and that's mostly down to cars.

    Using the anti-smoking logic, petrol and diesel cars should be banned, because of the fumes (or second hand driving, as it should be know) while electric cars should be limited to 25kph and painted dayglo orange, with a flashing orange warning light on the roof. When you get into the car you should be forced to listen to a recorded voice spouting dubious facts about how bad cars are and how you are basically a horrible person and an idiot for driving one, before it'll start. It sounds extreme, but it's all for the sake of this children. Would you like your child to die under the wheels of a car or choke to death on fumes? If it saves one life it must be worth it, right?

    • Welcome Séan!  In hindsight I should indeed have used the car example.  The counter argument is nearly always the "cars are essential" which is a non-argument in my book.  It merely says that road deaths and injuries are "acceptable" payment for the convenience of driving. 

      I like your idea of the future of road transport, and I have no doubt we are heading in that direction – satellite tracking and cars that breathalyse you before they start?  They are even trying to remove the driver from the equation.

      You have to accept though that Puritans only disapprove of other people's lifestyle and never their own so I think the car will be around for a long time yet.

  3. ….why should a non-smoker [I’m taking a wild guess that Bob is a non-smoker?]


    “Bob” is not just a nonsmoker. He’s a rabid antismoker. Big difference.


    Name a person who'd EVER want their child to smoke".


    Have no problem if my children took up smoking. It’s their decision. However, I would be seriously disappointed if my children became rabid, narcissistic, shallow, neurotic, bigoted, megalomaniacal, moralizing antismokers, e.g., “Bob”.

    • Heh!  In fairness, Bob is fully entitled to his views and as far as I am aware is a perfectly decent person.  It's just that having found myself someone who is anti-smoker, I just wanted him to clarify a few points for me.  I can understand someone being concerned about their own health but a concern for the health of an entire nation?  Personally I couldn't give a flying fuck if half the country were alcoholic and the other half obese as it has nothing to do with me.

      P.S. You name is noted for the next time I'm asked the famous question!

  4. I just wanted him to clarify a few points for me

    You’re pissin’ in the wind for that one, Gramps.  Anti-smokers of Bob’s variety can’t clarify any of the points they make because they’ve never actually thought about them long enough to be able to clarify to themselves why they believe them.  They’ve just read a few “facts” which enable them to feel ever-so-slightly better than someone else and have taken it on wholesale.  That’s really important for an insecure person.  So – no research, no questions, no musing contemplation, no self-analysis.  Just hook, line and sinker straight down in one.  Lovely-jubbly.  So you’ll never, ever, get a straight answer to any question as to why they feel the way they do, because they don’t even know themselves – so how can they explain it to someone else?

  5. "Most of all though, I would love to know why one person apparently hates smokers so much."

    Why?  It's because Bob's being a cunt by proxy. Permit me to explain – many years ago, before smoking was banned in the workplace, I organised a no-smoking campaign and had smoking prohibited from the office by pestering the boss and getting up a petition. I would report smokers and so forth.

    However, oh dear, I have long since realised that the reason I did it was because I liked the feeling of telling other people what to do. I have since apologised to some of my former colleagues who confirmed that I was indeed being a cunt, a diagnosis with which I shamefacedly concurred. The realisation began when I heard of someone who lived next to a little airfield where microlights would operate every weekend, weather permitting, and he had it shut down on the basis of noise pollution. After it closed, he moved house – next to another airfield used by microlights and of course he started the same campaign. Eh?

    What I then realised is that some people get a kick out of ordering others about and that this feeling is addictive. Everyone must examine their Self, if the capacity for self-reflection exists, and check for traits of cuntishness, recognise them as such, and eliminate them by honest logical appraisal of their origin and purpose.

    Nowadays when I see people smoking indoors in defiance of a petty tyranny that I recognise for what it is, I feel nothing but satisfaction that neither they nor me give a monkeys' toss.


  6. Yup, I absolutely agree with Jax. Attempting to draw a non-smoking zealot into a sensible conversation (You know, justifying why they feel the way they do or asking them to provide any sort of real proof that backs up what they're stating?) is akin to herding cats. It's never going to happen. Same thing for any type of zealot as you well know.

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