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Pathologising dissent

I was on BBC Radio Five Live this morning to voice some opposition to the IPPR, a populist authoritarian think-tank who are arguing companies selling flights, holidays and cars must be compelled by law to propagandise on behalf of the environmental movement.

Adverts for flights, holidays and cars should carry tobacco-style health warnings about climate change, a think tank has said […] Simon Retallack, the IPPR’s head of climate change, said the evidence of aviation’s negative environmental impact was “just as clear as the evidence that smoking kills”. […] “We know that smokers notice health warnings on cigarettes, and we have to tackle our addiction to flying in the same way,” he said

On air I challenged Mr. Retallack that by comparing smoking. something which results in a habit-forming chemical (nicotine) entering a person’s body, to flying, a choice made by a person entirely devoid of habit forming chemicals, he was pathologising people who made decisions he disapproved of.

If you disagree with the orthodoxy of the political class and keep making ‘wrong’ decisions, then you are an ‘addict’… and of course we all know addiction is something that must be ‘treated’. What does that remind you of?

In a sense I have done the same thing myself in the past, suggesting a pathological need to control other people with the threat of violence (i.e. laws) is more or less the defining mental state of members of the political class everywhere in the western world today… which is why IPPR’s constant output of new and innovative ways to control people is often well received by the radical centrist control freaks of both the Labour and ‘Conservative’ parties.

Update: you can hear the brief exchange on ‘Breakfast’ (08:38 am… time is 02:38 into programme)

19 comments to Pathologising dissent

  • Lascaille

    I think that ‘institutes’ like the IPPR (which is nothing more than a charity with no intellectual credentials beyond the letters after their employee’s names) are actually one of the most subversive influences in this day and age – both on the right and on the left.

    They’re the political equivalent of the daytime television insurance ads fronted by a celebrity of yesteryear – mutual appreciation societies backed by like-thinking individuals producing reams and reams of ‘studies’ which, coincidentally, all support the position which the institute stands for.

    Odd that.

  • Will this be on “Listen Again”?

  • RAB

    Yes Perry what programme was it, so we can all listen back.
    You have to comply very carefully with these po faced clowns or they get upset.
    I seem to remember around the time that warnings on tobacco became law, someone decided to go the whole hog and brought out a brand called DEATH. Blacker packaging than JPS, Whacking great skull and crossbones where the Camel would be, and the brand was literally banned by the powers that be for taking the piss.
    I seriously doubt that warnings on the packets make one iota of difference to people who smoke.
    As for air travel, I intend to increase mine! I’m off to Italy again in May, then later Australia or California.
    I like warm! Let’s pump it up!!

  • J

    This was also briefly on the Today programme, but I didn’t hear any counterpoint presented (I may have missed it as I was going to work at the time).

    It struck me as unusually bizarre and coercive. The idea put forward was that many people were unaware that airplanes were harmful, and so it was the duty of airlines to warn passengers that the service they were about to buy might indirectly harm them.

    Bizarre and depressing, but I take the view that these loony viewpoints come to light only because they are newsworthy in their loonyness, rather than because anyone takes them seriously.

    I’m looking forward to flying to New York to smuggle back illicit incandescent lightbulbs…

  • veryretired

    But of course dissent from the accepted orthodoxy is pathological— how could you not know this?

    Disagree with the king? Treason!

    Disagree with the pope? Heresy!

    Speak unapproved thoughts? Sedition!

    Publish dissenting ideas from the obvious truth of all truths? You must be mad!

    Where do you think we are?

    This is the earth, the planet on which, for thousands of years, anyone who dared to speak their minds openly, oppose the priests, the monarch, the community, the absolute truth that everybody knew was not only correct, but divine, ended their life in agony.

    The penalty for dissent always was, and always will be, death. Death in the most gruesome ways possible, death by torture, by fire, by cutting and chopping, by hanging, by starvation, by beheading.

    Look around you. It is happening today, it happened yesterday, it will happen tomorrow, it will never stop…

    I have said many times that the only true revolution, the only fundamental revolution, that has ever occurred in human history was the declaration that each and every individual was a unique entity, possessing rights inherent in their very natures, rights that could not be usurped or invalidated by any agency, human or divine.

    Did you expect that something so profoundly different, so utterly threatening, so subversive to all the powers that have controlled human society for millenia would go unchallenged?

    And so, Perry, you did what we all must do at every opportunity, in every venue, in the face of every attempt to abridge and deny the rights and liberties of the individual—speak out in opposition to that age old concept, that bedrock of all that is opposed to the individual, the idea that any one person is owned by someone else—that we are all the slaves of Xerxes.

    Congratulations. And thank you. You are a free man, and said so in no uncertain terms, and you spoke for all of us.

    Perhaps it was a small battle. No matter. Life is filled with skirmishes and chance encounters.

    They are the practice rounds. The real test is always coming, and will always come.

    Will you speak your mind, or kneel?

  • mike

    It’s on ‘wake up to money’.

  • mike

    They edited Perry’s two-penny-worth out. Unsurprisingly.

  • Johnathan

    Bossy people — rightwing and leftwing — have latched on to the whole “addiction” issue to undercut free will and the notion that humans have volition. We should not be surprised that after trying to paint the adult population of Britain as infantile babies for so long, the likes of the IPPR should use this tactic to impose this sort of lunacy. Yet these folk never imagine that their own addiction to bossing people around and treating people like 5-year-olds represents a different and far worse form of pathology. They need medical help.

    The late George Best was addicted to booze, but at least he made fans of the beautiful game happy by his genius. What the fuck have the IPPR or their peers ever done to brighten my life? Nothing.

  • It is on ‘Breakfast’ (08:38 am… time is 02:38 into programme)

  • Brian

    When the Institute for Public Policy Research fail to get their way, they’ll just hand you over to the Serbsky Institute.

  • Ham

    Brilliant. We don’t get enough ‘dinosaur argument’ in the media these days. And, y’know, I thought the hosts were on your side. 😉

  • mike

    My mistake!! It’s great that people like Perry de Havilland, David Carr and Brian Micklethwait actually get on to national radio from time to time, even if it is for just a minute or so.

  • Sandy P

    Of course that idiot either phoned in, biked or walked to this interview he wouldn’t dream of taking a vehicle.

  • Chris Harper (Counting Cats)

    I was in a class on Wednesday, when the lecturer started spouting conspiracy theories, talking about what “they” do, and how “they” control us.

    I responded by stating that “they” didn’t exist, claiming that there was only you and me and us. I told the class that rather than claiming “they” should do something about a problem, and then sitting back and waiting, things happen only if we act instead.

    Silence from the rest of the class.

    The next day one of the women thanked me for what I had said. She had been listening to someone rabbit on about “they” the previous night and, applying what I had said, had concluded that the concept of “they” was not just unthinking tripe, as I had pointed out, but it turned everyone into victims, or puppets.

    Her worldview was already shifting, and has now been altered irrevocably, and she will now spread the message.

    One convert at a time people, one convert at a time.

  • CFM

    Heh, heh. Perfect timing. An hour ago I purchased a round trip air ticket California to Athens.

    Halfway ’round the planet for a coffee at my favorite cafe. I’m gonna smoke a big cigar, too.

    Take that, you IPPR twit.

  • Nick M

    So how many other industries are going to be forced to advertise against using their products. I can imagine Microsoft going with “Frankly, an abacus and typewriter will crash less often”. Or Apple using “If you’d bought the generic MP3 player instead you wouldn’t be overdrawn by now”.

    Do these people really believe the guff they spout or are they just being utterly disingenous?

    Now we all daily thank Al for the Internet and know that the fat bastard is the only true Goreacle of the age and that only the sweet perfume of (inconvenient) truth issues from his Goreifice but do we all know this…

    Who’d live in a house like this?

    Possibly Mr Gore, yet another “Inconvenient Truth”.

    And Millibland should be told exactly where he can stow his “carbon card”. And I would pay good money not to watch Ruth Kelly insert it for him, while Patricia Hewitt held him down.

  • Of course that idiot either phoned in, biked or walked to this interview he wouldn’t dream of taking a vehicle.

    I was limo’ed to the studio, I assume he was too.

    And he is not an idiot, he is just someone who thinks the world will be a better place when civil society has been replaced by a democratic total state that controls everything with force backed politics and individuals are required to chose only approved choices.

  • Quite right Perry, ad hominem attacks distract from the real issue (something which you would more likely find the other side doing). Well said on the radio show too.

  • That’s a terrible player for listening to a part of the show. I managed to extract a URL and play it in Real Player and found it easier. Less patient folk can try the direct link below:


    I think an important concept that came up in the interview was that of the state co-opting civil commercial activity to propagandise the approved point of view. This isn’t the use of tax money, but it is tax payers money at work. It’s a way of for the IPPR to exploit the wealth of companies to do its work by gaining state approval for the scheme. Importantly, this uses wealth that, later on, will still be taxed.

    An alternative scheme would involve the IPPR monitoring the advertising activities of airlines and broadcasting their information using their own money on the same media and time slots. The only counter argument against this approach is that this is unaffordable, and this argument amounts to an admission of the proceeding criticisms.

    A lovely “dinosaur” ad hominen merely adds to the fun.