Wednesday, March 22, 2006

With regrets...

Mr Eugenides considers the smoking ban. As he points out, the most unpleasant aspect of this whole thing is the virulance with which our fascist masters will monitor it.
But I find it ineffably sad that we are being turned into a nation of informers and undercover agents, and that the guy you are sharing a joke with at the bar could give you a ticket as soon as you step outside. We are currently being regaled with radio ads urging us to grass on "businesses that are not registered for VAT" (builders, plumbers and the like, presumably), and are already urged - less controversially, I'll happily concede - to inform on benefits cheats. I'm all for stopping people from screwing the system, but setting up a vast network of people spying on other people is not quite what I have in mind when I picture a free society.

The saddest bit of 1984 for me, is the fact that children are willing to inform on their parents, to dob them in to the state authorities. And as Mr Freemarket points out, the state now believes that it can raise our children better than we can; now, it also believes that it can live the lives of consenting adults rather better than we can too.

Who gave them this authority? Have the scandals of the last 20 years not taught us that those who rule us are as fallible—if not more so—than ourselves? That their corruption and predilections for the unwise, unsavoury and unhealthy are at least the equal of ours?

On many levels, I can see how many would welcome the smoking ban and even I, a hardened smoker with absolutely no desire to give up, can see the benefits of the ban. But, the trouble is, where does it stop?

First they came for the gun-owners, and I did not speak up because I was not a gun-owner;
Then they came for the hunters, and I did not speak up because I was not a hunter;
Then they came for the smokers, and I did not speak up because I was not a smoker (and disliked smelling of smoke when I came back from the pub);
Then they came for [insert your choice of mildly dangerous or inconvenient activity here] and there was no one left to speak for me.

With apologies.


Anonymous said...

That last bit really says it all...

It's too bad the majority of people are steeped in the "it doesn't affect me personally so I don't care / I can't do anything about it" attitude, and they are blind to the bigger issue(s)

Simon Hodges said...

It may surprise you, but I wholeheartedly agree with you on this one. There was an article in the Economist recently describing how society's politics had come to reflect its attitude to shopping, which I think ties in well with Kath's comment.

I just can't believe it's happening. I was in the Royal Oak the other day and every man, woman and dog had a fag in their mouth. If you think I'm exaggerating, just go there. How will these people cope after Saturday? Another community space hollowed out and just to please some sanctimonious shits who probably don't go the pub anyway.

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