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Calling a spade a spade

While some minorities become popular political causes, other minorities are on the receiving end of negative political populism. Politically correct campaigners will loudly support the “good minorities” such as GLBT or immigrant groups, but they are equally loud in their condemnation of the “wrong minorities”. This seems to indicate that we are not becoming more tolerant… we are simply switching our bigotry on to other areas.

John Humphreys

Read the whole thing.

37 comments to Calling a spade a spade

  • Andrew Zalotocky

    As Mark Steyn put it:

    “There is no “tolerance”, there are only changing fashions in intolerance.”

  • Some confused souls may claim that buildings are not “private property” if many people like to go there.

    This is the one I personally encounter most often.

  • Anonymous

    How about this for a rather modern intolerance?

    (Link)

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Humphries has always been good to read, though I must warn you that he is (or was) an anarcho-capitalist. Still, he laughed politely at all my jokes, so I like him!

  • He wasn’t laughing at your jokes; he was laughing at you. :-p

    It’s not just smokers who are one of the groups it’s OK to be bigoted against, of course. The same people who talk about how xenophobia is horrid are usually the first people to engage in knee-jerk anti-Americanism — and still claim to be the tolerant ones.

  • Momo

    What is important is that their hate is politically correct hate.
    .
    .
    Or as Glenn Reynolds says “It is not just important that you think the right things, but that you think them at the right time.”

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    But Americans are not any one particular race- so it’s O.K. to hate them! Plus, they’re on top of the world, and you automatically want to hate whoever is there, if it is not you!

  • Westerlyman

    Nuke Grey

    “Humphries has always been good to read, though I must warn you that he is (or was) an anarcho-capitalist. Still, he laughed politely at all my jokes, so I like him!”

    Implying that we all know what is wrong with anarcho-capitalists…sort of proves the point about intolerance.

    Perhaps you were joking but I don’t get it. I want to know what you think is wrong with anarcho-capitalism not have you imply that every right-minded person ‘knows’ what is wrong.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    So now you’re trying to dictate who I must be tolerant of! The new tyranny! So what if I did irrationally discriminate against anarcho-capitalists? what’s it to you? Will you send the cops around if I don’t tell you my reasons? Will I be put on medication until you decide I’m better?
    Oh, wait… It’s all a mistake! You addressed it to ‘Nuke’ GREY, but I’m ‘Nuke’ GRAY!!! I’m glad we got that sorted out!
    Incidentally, see a dentist, and have someone put your wisdom teeth back in. You need them!

  • Johnathan Pearce

    The quote is of course true and it is good that it is made, but that does of course, mean that the “old bigotries”, such as hatred of non-whites, or Jews, or gay people, etc, are as objectionable as they have always been. All forms of bigotry – unreasoning hatred – are wrong.

  • lukas

    The best minorities, of course, are those who won’t answer back when spoken for.

  • Richard Garner

    Jonathon wrote,

    The quote is of course true and it is good that it is made, but that does of course, mean that the “old bigotries”, such as hatred of non-whites, or Jews, or gay people, etc, are as objectionable as they have always been. All forms of bigotry – unreasoning hatred – are wrong.

    Yes, indeed. The point of the quote was not, too me, that there is no tolerance. Rather, it was that tolerance means something very different from what the PC crowd think it means: It means having a tolerance for the racists or the homophobes as well as those they would seek to suppress.

  • Westerlyman

    Nuke Grey

    I don’t give a fuck who whether you are tolerant or not. The post was about double standards and you seemed to prove yours by making an unsubstantiated remark about people who label themselves anarcho-capitalists.

    Perhaps you were joking but judging by your vociferous response I would guess you don’t really have a sense of humour.

    I apologise for misspelling your name as you also clearly have a low tolerance for simple errors and I would hate you to be injured by your over-reaction.

  • Dom

    It’s not just that you have to think the right things at the right time, you also have to rewrite history so that you have always thought the right things, even though you obviously haven’t.

    I recently watched Altman’s “Wedding”. There is a liberal character in it, who accuses the dirty capitalists of wanting to build factories so they can hire illegal immigrants and put Americans out of work. That seemed so strange to me, but then I realized that the history of liberal thought has been rewritten recently. That is an ignorant right-wing belief, and it has always been such.

  • James Waterton

    Read the whole thing, indeed – but steer well clear of the comments section. Seriously. Reading a few reactions to that well-written and well-reasoned article made my brain hurt. It’s Australia’s answer to CiF. Publishing an article like that in The Drum really is pearls to swine for the most part, but I hope it made a few groupthinkers question their beliefs.

  • PeterT

    “but steer well clear of the comments section”

    I didn’t. Very depressing.

  • I’ve just been in Australia for a couple of weeks. I am struck by how it now seems almost indistinguishable from Singapore in terms of the number of signs threatening me with enormous fines if I deviate from approved behaviour. Not a good trend. Nice place to visit and all that.

  • Case #1,
    For many years the left championed Israel – it’s a sort of Swedish-ish social democracy right? Not no more. It is fashion. Somebody always has to be beaten with the shitty stick don’t they? Very depressing.

  • PS.
    Perry. Isn’t your post title a little cheeky?

  • Nick, I’m afraid that it’s not so much fashion, as the fact that for the past 30 years or so Israel has been becoming less and less “social”.

  • The telling thing about the comments section is that they respond with arguments Humphreys explicitly refutes in his article. I wonder what percentage of the commenters actually read it. I’m guessing a good bit of them heard from a friend of a friend that there was a pro-smoking article somewhere and decided to do something about the heresy. Wonderful world.

  • James Waterton

    Joshua: nah, that website is very much like The Grauniad’s online site, with commenters at both sites sharing political stripes. The article challenged their worldview directly. You wouldn’t expect the average modern leftist to respond to reason with reason, would you? And thus the result is basically *incredulous splutter as chai latte is spat all over monitor* smoking evil…many people die…passive smoking…how much did Philip Morris pay you?…my meal was ruined, I tell you, ruined!…what about the workers?…. oh yeah, The Children!

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    We have a great journal out here called ‘The IPA Review’, which lists as many of the nanny-statisms in australia as it can. Unfortunately we tend to follow trends from overseas too much.
    As for Westerlyman, and his intolerant demands that I explain myself, I will ignore him. As the wise proverb has it, “Never argue with an idiot- onlookers won’t be able to tell the difference!”

  • Rich Rostrom

    Humphries is full of it, and his complaint is rubbish. There is no discrimination against smokers. There are restrictions on smoking – an intrusive act which invades and damages anyone in the vicinity.

    When Humphries equates these restrictions with persecution and bigotry against smokers, he is using the same rhetorical swindle that American slavery advocates used before the Civil War. They complained bitterly that “the South” was invidiously excluded from the western Territories. But a Southerner was as free to settle in the Territories as any Yankee – he just couldn’t take his slaves there. One slaveocrat lamented that he couldn’t take his dear old black mammy to Kansas with him. A Yankee pointed out he was free to take her there – he just couldn’t sell her there.

    Likewise, Humphries is free to dine at any restaurant, stay at any hotel, or work in any business (unlike the racial and religious minorities he claims equivalence with). Nobody hates him. He isn’t barred. He can even bring his tobacco with him. Only his practice of burning tobacco is barred – where other people would have to inhale the smoke.

  • Here let me fix that for you Rich:

    Likewise, Humphries is free to dine at any PRIVATELY OWNED restaurant, stay at any PRIVATELY OWNED hotel, or work in any PRIVATELY OWNED business (unlike the racial and religious minorities he claims equivalence with). Nobody hates him. He isn’t barred. He can even bring his tobacco with him. Only his practice of burning tobacco is barred – where other people would have to inhale the smoke EVEN IF THE OWNERS OF THE PROPERTY DO NO BELIEVE THE TOSH ABOUT SECONDARY SMOKE AND THEY POST THAT SMOKING IS ALLOWED ON THEIR PROPERTY.

    Looks like hatred and discrimination, not to mention contempt for property rights, to me.

  • Westerlyman

    More ad hominem Nuke? The post is about PC intolerance and you use every old tactic to avoid rational discussion. You made what appear to be several intolerant remarks. I started by asking for clarification and just got a load of abuse about how you did not have to explain yourself to me. Quite right, you do not, but your responses say more about you than I ever could.

  • THE TOSH ABOUT SECONDARY SMOKE

    Personally I wouldn’t go there Perry, simply because the question whether secondary smoke is tosh or not is totally irrelevant as long as the property under concern is private.

    Just for the record, I think that the article is bang on the money and that Rich is flat wrong. I also happen to hate it when people smoke next to me.

  • Just for the record, I think that the article is bang on the money and that Rich is flat wrong. I also happen to hate it when people smoke next to me.

    That is also my position as a non-smoker. However the claims made for just how harmful ‘secondary smoke’ can be are vastly overstated… plus it beside the point when it comes to people voluntarily coming onto someone else’s private property, such as a restaurant.

  • plus it beside the point when it comes to people voluntarily coming onto someone else’s private property, such as a restaurant.

    That being precisely my point: when a point is beside the main point, it is best not made – otherwise it can be construed as a rug that can later be pulled from under your main argument, seeing as science is never really settled on anything (and we like it that way).

  • Do you see my point?:-)

  • I think the point about the research into the harms of second-hand smoke is worth making – even if it’s secondary to the property rights point overall – just because it’s a way of reminding the statist crowd what a “burden of proof” is.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Westerlyman, the fact that you never put in a ‘please’ in your initial demand is what put me off-side, and still puts me off-side. When asking for information, a polite ‘please’ never goes astray.
    Yes, my initial comment was in a joking mood, as everyone else seemed to understand. And as for my opinion on Anarcho-capitalism, it is my second philosophy, after minarchism. I subscribe to X-Centralism, a preference for local, small, governments.

  • Joshua: maybe so, but then it needs to be carefully qualified, with something like ‘pending further research’ or the like. As I mentioned above, I happen to be a non-smoker who would much rather people didn’t smoke next to her, feeling that there is no way this could be good for her health, current research notwithstanding. FWIW, I am not hysterical about it (or anything else, for that matter), but given a choice between a smoking venue and a non-smoking one, I’ll always pick the former – and for me health considerations do come into it.

  • About your title, I was horrified but not surprised that the 2008 movie version of The Importance Of Being Earnest eliminated one of the greatest insults ever delivered. (Alas YouTube does not have the magnificent Joan Greenwood version):

    (at 2,50 et seq.)

  • Alisa –

    Do you maybe mean “pick the latter?”

    FWIW, I’m also a non-smoker who believes, in spite of current research, that second-hand smoke is harmful. (I did take up smoking briefly when they passed a smoking ban here in 2006 or so, but it was too much work and I didn’t enjoy it. Three months tops.) My guess as to why most studies approach, but do not achieve, statistical significance on the matter is that this is one of those things where individual variation is huge. My money’s on some people being super-sensitive to the effects of second-hand smoke, others being effectively immune.

    But I disagree with you that the statement needs to be qualified. A burden of proof means, in the ideal case, that “they” either meet it, or “we” stop listening to them. It’s up to them to do the further research if they really want their smoking ban. The issue should simply be off the table until they can actually convince anyone to a scientific certainty that there is a health issue. Once they have made the case that there is a health issue (which they patently haven’t in this case), then we can talk about whether it is serious enough to merit abridgement of property rights (which it almost certainly won’t be, given that, as was pointed out above, people are free to choose not to go to bars and restaurants that allow smoking if it comes to that). But the burden of proof is theirs, and it’s important that we keep reminding them of that. I see no reason to skip straight to the fundamental argument if even basic considerations like establishing that there is an issue in the first place haven’t been met. It’s like arguing with someone about whether he can sit in the front row when he hasn’t even paid the entrance fee. First pay the entrance fee, then we’ll talk about where you can sit!

    As to the truth of the matter – well, of course in a free society everyone is entitled to his own interpretation of the scientific facts in guiding his private behavior. So, if you and I believe that second-hand smoke is harmful, we are free to avoid it. Which it sounds like you do.

  • Joshua: yes, the latter, of course – thanks:-) And I also happen to tend towards the individual-variation hypothesis – not only on second-hand smoking, but on actual smoking as well.

    The issue should simply be off the table until they can actually convince anyone to a scientific certainty that there is a health issue.

    Therein lies the problem: it is fairly easy to convince enough people of anything, whether it has any scientific merit or not, by dressing it in pseudo-scientific garb. Just witness the climate issue: true, we found them out, but three important points are being overlooked:

    1. It is by no means trivial that we found them out – it was a fortunate accident which could have not happened.

    2. Lots of normal people still believe their crap.

    3. Lots of needless and harmful regulation has been already passed, and as we well know, regulation tends to be irreversible, original reasons or lack of them be damned. Plus, entire industries (AKA, interest groups) have been formed based on said crap – good luck dismantling them and their subsidies. Just look at Llamas’ comment several threads below on Iowa ethanol farmers, who traditionally just happen to be the ones who more or less pick the Republican nominees for presidency of the US.

    You can talk all you want about burden of proof: you would be morally and logically in the right, but it doesn’t mean that this approach will win you the argument in the long run. That said, I am far from saying that we shouldn’t fight on the scientific-merit front: we sure should. But the scientific argument should be kept separate from the political one: we should listen to Popper and keep in mind that science is never settled on anything, and as such can always come back to bite us in the posterior.

  • It’s been SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN that passive smoking is WORSE for you than active smoking.

    This is why it is IMPERATIVE that the government should distribute FREE CIGARETTES to everyone, especially the elderly, children and others at high risk, so that they can protect themselves against passive smokers by becoming active ones. To deny people this elementary health protection any longer would be GENOCIDAL.