Sunday, 22 July 2007

Beer, Fags and Scuffles

I see the piecemeal persecution of smokers by Health Fascists continues unimpeded in the UK this weekend. As just about every smoker knows, the cretinous new smoking ban means we can't light up in enclosed public spaces, such as pubs.

Now, let's see. If a law abiding smoker can't light up over a drink in a pub, what do you think they're likely to do? a) Not smoke? b) Not visit the pub? c) Nip outside for a ciggy? Hint - the answer is c), as I would have thought even the most typically dim-witted lawmaker might have realised.

And, since the said smoker wants to light up over a drink, are they likely to a) Leave their drink in the pub, b) Knock it back before going outside, c) Take it with them? Again, the obvious answer is c) - the law abiding smoker will nip out for a cigg, taking their bevvy with them.

Unfortunately, it turns out that doing so may well make them law-breakers after all. Many parts of the country do not permit drinking on the streets, and, in general, I have to say that's not a bad idea in itself. But when these well-intentioned bylaws are used as a means of "catching out" smokers who are trying to keep within the new anti-smoking laws, that's something else altogether.

It was inevitable that smokers - sometimes in large numbers - would congregate outside busy pubs, and want to take their drinks with them. Such large gatherings of folks in various degrees of inebriation are equally inevitably going to be a potential source of trouble, from obstructed footpaths to drunken brawls and worse.

Did nobody in the Government consider this possibility? Apparently not, because, as the Sunday Express reports, various police forces are now faced with the task of stopping folks who have nipped out for a law-abiding ciggy from drinking on the street. Can't smoke inside, can't drink outside - they've got you coming and going, haven't they?

No doubt the Health Fascists are loving every minute of this revelation, but I suspect that their glee may be a little premature. Before long, smokers - most likely, smokers with a little Dutch courage inside them - are going to get into a situation where there are smoking-SS enforcement agents IN their pub and Plod OUTSIDE, just waiting to catch out an unwary smoker evicted from the snug with pint and cigg in hand.

And when this happens (if it hasn't already), there will be trouble. The extent of the trouble is hard to predict, but if it happens in a time and place where feelings against this combination of laws are already running high, it could be quite significant indeed. This sort of confrontation can get out of hand very quickly, and someone will get hurt or killed - I am as certain of this as I am that day follows night.

Will it be worth the hassle? No, of course not, and I absolutely don't advocate such a confrontation, but it IS going to happen. And when the dust settles, and various drinkers / smokers are facing a night in the cells, while their friends (and a few Dibbles too, I expect) are being stitched back together in the local hospital, or adorning a mortuary slab, will the Health Fascists accept their part of the blame for allowing this situation to develop? Will they finally understand that when you try to impose your views on people who do not share them, and do not want to share them, there will come a point when those views are violently rejected?

No, they will not. How could they? After all, they think they're taking away our freedom for our own good, and that couldn't possibly be wrong, could it? Well, yes, it can be, it IS, and it must be resisted if this is to remain a free country.

Naturally, resistance need not, and should not, be violent. Instead, some of the information and suggestions on the Freedom to Choose website might well be worth a look.

Billy Seggars.

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