For the last while, I have been following the unfolding events in Stony Stratford.
For those of you who aren't aware of what has been going on there, a local counsellor, Paul Bartlett is hoping to ban smoking in all public areas within the town. This proposal has met with widespread protest, not only from smokers but also non-smokers who see it not as a health issue but as an infringement on civil liberties.
What struck me about the whole business is the mindset of Bartlett. Here is a man who seems to be completely obsessed with smoking, to the point of describing his own father as "disgusting". He sees it as his duty to ban the evil practice from public view but he really doesn't know how to go about it.
Bartlett knows damn well that an argument on the basis of health won't work as he knows that any such argument has no proof whatsoever. He then tries the litter card. Apparently cigarette butts are crawling with all sorts of nasty infestations, all waiting to kill our children. Naturally he plays the "children" card.
I listened to a broadcast where he was interviewed. Naturally he was asked about the reasons for the ban and his replies are worth listening to, as they give a rather frightening insight into the mind of a true Anti. He played the health card. That was shot down. He played the litter card. That was shot down. In the end he reverted to what was essentially a load of gibberish about "scalding and burning children", "asthmatics dropping dead because someone lit up", "second hand cancer" and a lot more unadulterated bollox.
What is quite plain from the interview is that Bartlett has no real reason for the ban other than an obsessional hatred for smokers. He probably doesn't know why he hates them, but the hatred is there. He actually comes across as a middle aged man who lives with his mammy and who has been indoctrinated from birth with the evils of tobacco. Like any other religion, it is a matter of blind faith without any proof whatsoever.
I find that interview rather scary. It comes across as the insane ramblings of someone who has a devout faith in the new religion of Anti-smoking and who is prepared to impose his will on everyone else. Worse still is that he is in a position to actually try to impose that will.
In another story, I saw further evidence of this insanity; this willingness to impose laws on the whole population using arguments that are designed to strike with absolutely no regard for the facts. In an attempt to ban smoking in private cars they are using arguments that would be really funny if they weren't so serious -
"Delegates heard that smoking in a car was more damaging to a person’s health than breathing in exhaust fumes, because particle concentrations were 27 times higher than in a smoker’s home and 20 times higher than they used to be in a pub, when smoking was allowed.
That made it safer to have the exhaust pipe on the inside of the car than to smoke cigarettes in terms of fine particulate matter."