Smoking Rears its Head Again

It seems as though all my time just now is spend blogging about various legal or illegal substances. Last week it was illegal drugs – this week it’s been announced that the UK doctors are asking that smoking in private cars should also become illegal.

There are good reasons why British doctors should feel that they have this right. They do, after all, possess the moral high ground. If something is dangerous, they have the obvious interest in trying to stop people from behaving badly. They are doctors. They have a duty in preventing illness and death. And smoking does undoubtedly cause disease and death.

Not all smokers end up here after their first puff, you know!

Their right to pontificate comes from their government-conferred responsibility towards the nation’s health.

And that is where my anger starts to bubble.

I should state an interest here. I ain’t a smoker. Once I was, and used to smoke heavily – pipes first, then cigarettes. I still miss the flavour of a good pipeful.

No, I don’t smoke. I am, however, a firm libertarian.

There are two problems I have with this. First: the government has a very specific interest in our health. It’s not to increase the sum of human happiness. It is because civil servants see the public as a large number. Literally. They do not see individuals and people or souls. They see a mass of numbers. This many males, this many females, this many children, who will grow to be adults one day. They see pensioners and workers, and the correlation which civil servants see is the one that shows Treasury income compared with expenses on welfare.

In Britain, there is no stated right to health, wealth and happiness. Subjects (I am a Royalist, but this is one aspect of our status I detest) are not there to have fun. They exist as minor cogs which must constantly turn over more tax revenue to the centre. That is one reason why nationalisation of the health of the nation was thought to be a good idea. Not to make people healthier for their own sake, but so that fewer days would be lost on production lines and in offices.

So, that’s my dislike from the governmental side. They want us healthy so that we can be fleeced. There is also the other side that enrages me. That is the medical bully-boy aspect.

Charities all too often are successful. Many are created as single-issue campaign groups, which then win their issue and are left with a big hole at the centre of their existence. With their reason to exist gone, what else might they do? And all too often they do all they can simply to continue. They have to invent new issues to fight.

I know. I had to have a foxhunting photo to irritate any RSPCA officials. Besides. They're lovely hounds!

One such charity is the RSPCA, an organisation I will never support again. They existed to protect animals – but now they have taken on investigative and prosecutorial responsibilities. They perform “good” works, such as rescuing urban foxes from towns and cities, catching them humanely, and transporting them to the wild countryside where they can enjoy a more fulfilling existence. That, I suppose is the theory.

I used to meet some of these when I walked the countryside in Surrey. They were invariably in a bad way. Used to scrabbling through the garbage in the trash cans outside blocks of flats or houses, they were at a complete loss in the countryside, and many died from starvation.

A local free-range chicken farmer used to have to keep a look out for the RSPCA vans that would regularly deliver six or seven foxes at the fields adjoining his farm. Then he’d quickly despatch as many as he could before any damage could be done to his flocks.

But it made the RSPCA feel good to have intervened in the contented lives of those urban foxes, no doubt. Even though collecting vermin and moving them was illegal.

And now the RSPCA has turned to prosecuting cruelty. Three years ago a horrific case hit the press: at a place called Spindle’s Farm. “…more than 100 horses, ponies and donkeys were removed from horrific conditions at Spindle Farm near Amersham, Buckinghamshire.” they said – for more go to their website at http://www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/horses/rehoming/successstories/amershamappeal. A team of RSPCA inspectors arrived with others and liberated the animals. But this wasn’t quite the truth.

I liked that last photo so much, I thought I ought to have another!

After a court order, the RSPCA agreed to return a number of the horses and ponies that were ordered to be returned to their owner were in “good condition”. Look at http://grumpyoldarchive.co.uk/rspca.asp for more on this. The others had to go to auction.

It would seem (although you don’t learn this from the RSPCA websites) that Spindles was not a Hell for horses. Many of the animals there had been rescued from bad owners and were being nursed back to health. As their vet confirmed in court.

And this is the problem. The RSPCA confiscated the animals, and took them away to secret locations. Why secret? Were hordes of violent, animal-hating vigilantes feared? Did they think that donkey-torturers would invade their stables?

The RSPCA has a rapidly growing reputation for bullying. There are stories appearing regularly now of independent vets who are threatened if they go to court to stand up for defendants against the RSPCA. And stories like that of Spindle’s Farm leave a sour taste in the mouth.

For example, while they prosecuted the owners of the farm, they sought to sell off all his stock to new homes. Because the horses would be happier. But hold on, the RSPCA would benefit from donations. So they act to take the horses and ponies, they prosecute the owner to deprive him of his investment, and then they seek to profit overall both from the publicity and from the income from effectively selling the animals.

How many pressure groups (I will not refer to them as a charity) can aspire to such a delightful win-win situation? No doubt the Mafia would be proud of a racket like this.

Let’s just think: if an unscrupulous officer at the RSPCA were to decide to maximise the revenue in a year by going to a stables, accusing the owners of cruelty, confiscating all the horses from the yard, taking them away to a secure location where no independent vet could inspect them, and then prosecuted the hapless owner with the full force of the millions of pounds of money held in the RSPCA’s banks accounts, and sold off the owner’s property for nothing, while taking in a donation to help the RSPCA fight another day – well, what would be the machinery for protecting the innocent against such overweening power?

That to me sounds like a perfect example of how prosecutions should not work. Making profit by prosecuting is an extremely dangerous concept. Innocents could be swept up in malicious prosecutions. After all, how many people could hope to fight a case against a charity with some £100 million of income each year?

And this is not one individual case. Look at http://the-shg.org/28th%20January%202008.pdf for more examples. There does seem to be a general historical theme here.

The hunt ready for the moors.

But let’s return to that other delightful charity, the British Medical Association. This is a pressure group that wants only to see all individuals as healthy as they can be. Great.

But I don’t want to be as healthy as I can be. I don’t want to live to a superannuated existence like Bilbo Baggins – what did he say? “I feel stretched, like jam spread over too much toast” or something, wasn’t it? Sorry. Lord of the Rings isn’t at hand – I want to have a happy, fulfilling existence, and when my time comes, I’ll fall off the twig knowing, hopefully, that I’ve had a pretty good life and entertained a lot of people. That’s all I aspire to.

What I do not want is to see the BMA deciding that I must not smoke. I don’t, but whether I do or not is none of their business. They are saying now that it’s terribly dangerous to smoke in cars because of the build up of toxins.

Well, garbage. I used to smoke, and like all other smokers, tended always to have the window open.

But whether I did or not, the BMA can go boil its collective heads. We are adults. Subject I may be, but I’m not a bloody slave to be told exactly how I may live my life.

The trouble is, since health has been nationalised, now the doctors can call for any restriction on our freedoms in the campaign for better health. And they can use their favourite weapon. Since the health service is nationalised, we all pay for each other’s health through taxes, and thus if we work to be less healthy, we are stealing the pounds from those who have illnesses not of their own making. Thus it is that obese people are being told that they aren’t allowed surgery until they’ve lost weight, or smokers are told they may not have necessary procedures until they stop smoking.

I never asked for my taxes to be increased to pay for doctors, hospitals and nurses. I appreciate the NHS, and I am happy to have free (mostly) healthcare when I need it, but if the doctors want my tax money, they can stop lecturing me on how I live my life. They are either servants employed by me to look after me when I’m ill.

They are not arbiters on how I should live my life.

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Comments
10 Responses to “Smoking Rears its Head Again”
  1. Mike, you may find this guy a good read, particularly on his history of The RSPCA from a terrier perpsective.
    http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/search?q=history+of+terriers

    Like

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for that, Ronnie. Good to see one of the old countrymen on the web! Not enough about the English countryside. I really miss Out Of Town with Jack Hargreaves!

      Like

  2. carole schultz says:

    As usual, Mike, I totally agree with you. How dare they tell us we can’t smoke in our own cars (like you I was a smoker and, of course, had the window open). I don’t smoke now, haven’t done for years, but I still feel that it is up to the individual, not the powers to be telling you whether you can smoke or not. I could really start ranting about how we are constantly being told what is good for us…I can make up my own mind, thank you very much.

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  3. Jack Eason says:

    If there is an individual, or body, that makes my skin crawl and my bile rise beyond boiling point Michael, its the ‘holier than thou’ brigade.

    The last time I checked, we were still living in a free society, which means we can make our own choices. It was bad enough when these morons banned smoking in pubs. Now they want to dictate to us yet again what we can or cannot do?

    What’s next I wonder? Perhaps they will want every living person here in the UK to only breath on alternate Wednesdays!

    OK – that’s a bit over the top I know. But these people have gone too far this time. :)

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  4. knotrune says:

    I see what you’re saying, but I have had concerns about smoking drivers for a while now. Not so much from the point of view of them damaging their own health, or even their passengers. But if it is not safe to drink coffee, eat a sandwich or use a cell phone while driving, being in charge of a death machine while holding something burning, which can be dropped into a sensitive crotch or cleavage, is surely a potential danger to other road users!

    In the same way, loose wasps should also definitely be banned from moving vehicles! (Don’t know how they might enforce that however…)

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    • I know what you mean, but these laws are getting daft. I can agree with not holding a telephone, because there’s the dual issue of hands being involved as well as brain engaged on a conversation. But by the same token I know I am not firing on all cylinders when I talk to my wife or kids in the car. Having a portion of my inefficient little grey cells involved in a conversation is enough to distract me from concentrating on driving. Conversely, I think drinking coffee or water or eating a sandwich has little impact on my driving. Likewise, when I was a smoker, the act of smoking calmed me and assisted in concentration on the road and driving.

      After all, I am not convinced that there are any figures that demonstrate that dropped cigarettes have been listed in any insurance assessments of added dangers to driving. And if there were any genuine risk, those tight-fisted administrators would have isolated it!

      And finally, the most common conviction of people drinking in cars appears to be those who’re sitting in stationary vehicles drinking water. There it’s a legal crime because they were not totally in control of their car while drinking. But that’s a notional crime used by hard-up fuzz to boost their arrest and conviction numbers against their targets, not a genuine offence. No one is at risk by people at traffic lights sipping water in cars that aren’t moving!

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  5. I am an ocassional smoker and this constant sniping by the BMA and other pressure groups such as ASH really riles me. I am treated like vermin now just because I smoke, which is so pathetic. The way smokers are victimised often makes me wonder how our forebears would have responded. Can you imagine Churchill lighting up a Havana and suffering the lecturing of one of our health police?

    And guess what is next? Drinking. The signs are already there with government and BMA diktats about recommended measurements, increased prices, bans on advertisements. Cast your mind back. Isn’t that how they started with smoking?

    Like

    • Exactly how they started. We’re looked upon as mere producers of money, generators of tax revenue. We don’t have the right to enjoy our lives how we want. Drives me potty. I wish to God I’d moved to Canada or New Zealand years ago when I had the chance!

      Like

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