The rise of the Nanny State

I read a couple of items yesterday.

The first was an opinion piece from Australia – Cigarette packaging rules: give the nanny state the boot.

The second was a local item – Menthol cigarettes will be 'banned in Ireland by 2020'.

What struck me about the first one is that ten years ago it probably never would have been published, but there seems to be a growing number of articles which in turn are growing in their criticism of the Nanny State.

The second article, which I find a little more intriguing is the comments that appear underneath. 

For years, any article that mentioned smoking was followed up by a rash of comments along the lines of "I hope all those filthy addicts die" or "smoking kills millions every day and it should be banned".  In other words, there mere mention of smoking would unleash a torrent of bile from the bovine herd.

There does seem to be a change taking place.  Now an article on smoking is more likely to unleash a torrent of criticism aimed at the Nanny State.  More and more are taking the line that they are adults and are entitled to do what they like without interference from any State.  In fact the very frequency of the expression "Nanny State" is on a rapid increase.

Out of interest, I checked Ngram for the term Nanny State from 1970 to the present and it produced a nice little graph –

Rise of the Nanny State

Now "Nanny State" is a pejorative term and is unlikely to be used by the Nannies themselves, so this seems to represent a groundswell if not of opposition, at least of a growing awareness of the phenomenon.

The Nanny State is widely criticised on social meeja such as Twitter and "Blogs" but they tend to reach a minority audience, and usually an audience of like minded people so there does tend to be an "echo chamber" effect.  Occasionally an "outsider" does reach my outpourings through searching for something like "is smoking really dangerous" or "anti smoking propaganda" so maybe the message is spreading?

I have noticed this rise in the numbers standing up against repressive legislation.  Articles on news sites are now more likely to attract criticism of the Nanny State than support.  Critical comments are more likely to attract approval.

Or is it just in my imagination?

 

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Comments

The rise of the Nanny State — 5 Comments

  1. Well I think the term "nanny state" should be replaced by prod nose state or bully state; nanny is too weak a description for these bastards.

    • Normally I would use the term "Bully State".  "Nanny" implies someone who is caring and gentle, who will sing you to sleep with a gentle lullaby.  In practice they are a bunch of bullying thugs who will put you to sleep by slamming a think law-book into your head.

      • "Bully State" is maybe not as good a neologism as "Virtue signaling" (which is spot on!)  but it's definitely an improvement upon Nanny State. I'd commend its usage.

  2. I noticed a distinct tide-change in the media’s seemingly obligatory Universal Condemnation of Smoking almost immediately after the UK ban was brought in in July 2007.  Up until the ban was in, virtually every article on the subject seemed breathless with excited anticipation of the forthcoming ban, of how virtually every smoker in the country would shrug their shoulders and say “OK, we’ll just give up, then,” and how the whole economy – not least, of course, pubs, clubs and bars – would shortly be heaving with new customers and bursting at the seams with so much new business that they virtually wouldn’t know how to cope with all the extra income zooming their way.  But within a few short weeks of its imposition it seemed that articles critical of the ban, of the heavy-handed legislation used to ensure compliance, and of the Health Zealots generally, which wouldn’t previously have been allowed to see the light of day were – wonder of wonders – not just getting approved for publication, but were getting quite significant column inches. 

    Of course, any journalist wishing to see such an article in print seemed to be obliged to put in the usual provisos, such as “I hate the smell of tobacco smoke as much as anyone, but …” or “Of course, we all know that smoking kills ten gazillion children every minute, but …”  But at least, having got the obligatory provisos out of the way, they were then able to be at least mildly critical of aspects of the ban and of its chief instigators, the anti-smoking movement.  And as time has progressed, these articles, and – as you point out, Gramps – the accompanying reader reactions have become increasingly vocal in their criticism of the overbearing and bullying nature of health professionals, the authorities (both national and local), and of the single-issue campaigners themselves. 

    Of course, some anti-smoking articles do still surface from time to time, and the anti-smoking lobby seem, like one of those nasty infections that keeps resurfacing just when you think it’s gone away, do still come up with the odd convoluted attempts to link yet another (yawn!) ailment to smoking (and only smoking, natch) or come up with “new initiatives” to extend the ban still further.  But they certainly don’t have the floor all to themselves these days as they used to, firstly, because it seems that, with the ban in place, many of what one might call “follower groups” (i.e. those who supported the ban from a distance, but didn’t feel as passionate about it as the anti-smoking groups themselves clearly did) seemed to think that it was “job done,” and that a little bit of anti-anti opinion wouldn’t do any harm now (and might actually do some good in terms of showing what “balanced” publications/channels they are after all), but secondly, because, riding just behind the crest of anti-smoking’s own wave were a whole host of new single-issue campaigners, nipping at their heels for their own chance of a moment in the spotlight and (obviously) a little share of all that lovely State funding and support which had previously been reserved for anti-smoking and anti-smoking alone. 

    Ergo, as the inevitable “slippery slope” which anti-smoking (despite their protestations to the contrary) first started off is now unfolding with ever-increasing speed before everyone’s eyes, even our usually-apathetic media and their (generally) mentally lazy readers can’t ignore it or pretend it’s not happening.  None, to my knowledge, has yet been brave enough to point out where the Nanny State really first got the bit between its teeth (i.e. smoking), because that would necessarily mean pointing out to a whole lot of people that they’ve been lied to and tricked and, worst of all, that they’ve fallen for it – and nobody likes to have to admit that they’ve been fooled.  But it’s only a matter of time.  With each passing year, it seems that interest in all things anti-smoking fade still further into the background.  Just one article in a leading newspaper, pointing out how the whole movement has been based on erroneous, misleading and hyped-up data from the start, and pointing out, too, the damage which allowing these truth-manipulating lobbyists to have too much power and too much say has done – not just to the hospitality industry, but to all industries, and also to so many social and human relationships – could be all it takes for the whole carefully-crafted edifice to come tumbling down around their ears.  And about time, too.  These dogs have long ago had their day – and a very long day it’s been too – perhaps it’s now time to do the kindest thing and arrange for them to be (metaphorically speaking) quietly euthanased.

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