'Do as I say' culture gains ground

Brian
Brian Jones
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The College of the North Atlantic has banned smoking anywhere on its campuses’ grounds, inside and outside.

Presumably, students and staff will be able to light up and puff away while standing on a public sidewalk at the edge of campus, but if they take a single step to either stand or sit on college property to indulge in the wicked weed, they will be breaking the no-smoking rule.

The ban also applies to the college’s parking lots, which naturally leads libertarians to wonder: will people be denied the right to sit in their own car and have a smoke?

“But your honour,” we can hear a lawyer arguing, “the windows of my client’s vehicle were up, and he was not bothering anyone.”

The college says the new rule is about “health and safety.”

No, it isn’t. It is about telling people what to do, and making them obey. It is about the “Do as I say” culture that has gained ground worldwide, an epic global warming, if you will, to the idea that it is acceptable to curtail personal freedom for people’s own good.

 

Wide support

In recent years, the do-as-I-say culture has been widely supported and broadly implemented.

Newfoundlanders have seen it for decades, in national and international opposition to the seal hunt. People who have never been to Newfoundland, and don’t know a thing about the place, demand that sealers do as they say, and stop killing seals.

Never mind the facts. Never mind that there are six million harp seals and they are not endangered. Never mind that slaughtering cows and pigs is just as “cruel” as is killing seals. People’s delicate sensibilities are offended, and therefore the sealers must do as they say.

A court has put a temporary stop to the European Union’s plan to ban seal imports. It provides a small glimmer of hope that the do-as-I-sayers can’t always get their way.

 

Active participants

The national campaign to have municipal governments ban the domestic use of pesticides continues unabated, despite its reliance on political arguments — more accurately, “do as I say” — rather than scientific facts.

In a letter to the editor this week, Gideon Forman, executive director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, argues for the prohibition of “toxic lawn products.”

It is a curious phrase. Perhaps the group is aware, but loathe to admit, that not all domestic pesticides are “toxic.”

Of course, this all depends on which science, or which political slant, you’re inclined to believe. Forman urges the public to “trust” his group — they are, after all, doctors.

Anyone who dares point out the many weaknesses in the do-as-I-say-and-ban-pesticides argument will invariably be told, “But doctors support a ban.”

Well, a significant proportion of Canadian doctors also favour increased privatization of the health-care system. Many also support the implementation of user fees when patients visit their family physician. Are the doctors infallible on these issues, too?

 

Hogweed irony

You might think the people who run the College of the North Atlantic would be more enlightened about personal liberty and choice.

Not so with city hall. You wouldn’t expect small-town politicians to direct much intellectual power toward issues of choice, freedom and consistency.

St. John’s city council overwhelmingly favours banning pesticides.

This week, the city belatedly recognized the dangers of hogweed, a viciously poisonous plant that has spread across the country. City staff dug up 92 of the plants and buried them at the Robin Hood Bay landfill.

One of city hall’s top officials said that to prevent the dangerous plants from returning, pesticides must be used.

It is fertile ground for irony and hypocrisy.

 

Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached by e-mail at bjones@thetelegram.com

Organizations: College of the North Atlantic, European Union, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment The Telegram

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Robin Hood Bay

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  • bannedsmoker
    August 29, 2010 - 08:09

    MOMMIGUMMI writes: -"If you want to smoke, just do it in/on your own property."- That would be ideal, unfortunately, even that is unacceptable to the ANTI-smoker cult. How many business owners would have happily accommodated their smoking clientele ON THEIR OWN PROPERTY? How many of those business owners are smokers themselves who would smoke ON THEIR OWN PROPERTY? How many businesses built patios for their smoking clientele ON THEIR OWN PROPERTY after these blanket smokerbans the ANTI-smokers so desperately demanded and cheer for? We know what the ANTI-smoker cult is looking to do with those PRIVATELY owned patios now, right? Precisely. They think they own everything and the world is their oyster. You need look no further than the NS situation where they are trying to FORCE a store owner to hide his cigarettes ON HIS OWN PROPERTY. This is even AFTER a judge ruled that it is a violation of his constitutional rights. Even after THAT, they are still enforcing their useless law (read dictate). THERE ISN'T EVEN ANY SMOKING GOING ON!!! Big Gov has endless resources... they are going to bankrupt the poor retailer with the legal fees. Even if they have to raise everyone's taxes to do it. That is their ace in the hole. Forget justice and fairness. Comply, or shut down! Either way, after spending all his resources on lawyers, he's going to have to declare bankruptcy and close up shop anyway. Or the business owner in Ontario who wanted to open a PRIVATE smoker's club ON HIS OWN PROPERTY. He wanted to bring his case to the Supreme Court of Canada after an already long and expensive legal battle. They threw it out. They wouldn't even hear the case. Can you guess why? (how's that for justice and fairness?) And apartment dwellers... they are trying to have us believe that cigarette smoke passes though the walls and "contaminates" the entire building and is "killing" everyone and their kids and their pets... *sigh* "Do as I say"... no? Wake up people.

  • bannedsmoker
    bannedsmoker
    August 29, 2010 - 07:38

    MOMMYGUMMI writes: -"Everyone is commenting about the smoker's rights..what about my right as a non-smoker to want to walk into a building and not have to breathe in the foul stale cigarette smoke from someone else's discusting habit!!"- Sorry to break it to you, but that "right" was forfeited by the ANTI-smokers when they decided to impose blanket smoker BANS instead of considering ventilation solutions, or stand-alone venues that would have assured safety and comfort for BOTH smokers and NON-smokers. As for the smokers all being outside, well isn't that exactly what the ANTI-smokers wanted in the first place? As for what you consider "disgusting", well there are many things I find disgusting, but I am not prepared to belittle people because of them, or legislate them into the ground as some would like to see done to smokers. Who just so happen to be taxpayers who partake in a LEGAL activity, habit, or "addiction" (favorite label of the ANTI-smoker groups, coalitions and societies). So as far as the whining and moaning about smokers being outside, I take it for exactly what it is, whining and moaning. Perhaps you would yield better results if you vented your frustrations towards the ANTI-smoker coalitions and societies who put the smokers outside to begin with. Maybe they would start listening, perhaps? Or have you fallen into the "do as I say" culture that is so well described in this article?

  • bannedsmoker
    bannedsmoker
    August 29, 2010 - 07:28

    MOMMYGUMMI writes: -"Everyone is commenting about the smoker's rights..what about my right as a non-smoker to want to walk into a building and not have to breathe in the foul stale cigarette smoke from someone else's discusting habit!!"- Sorry to break it to you, but that "right" was forfeited by the ANTI-smokers when they decided to impose blanket smoker BANS instead of considering ventilation solutions, or stand-alone venues that would have assured safety and comfort for BOTH smokers and NON-smokers. As for the smokers all being outside, well isn't that exactly what the ANTI-smokers wanted in the first place? As for what you consider "disgusting", well there are many things I find disgusting, but I am not prepared to belittle people because of them, or legislate them into the ground as some would like to see done to smokers. Who just so happen to be taxpayers who partake in a LEGAL activity, habit, or "addiction" (favorite label of the ANTI-smoker groups, coalitions and societies). So as far as the whining and moaning about smokers being outside, I take it for exactly what it is, whining and moaning. Perhaps you would yield better results if you vented your frustrations towards the ANTI-smoker coalitions and societies who put the smokers outside to begin with. Maybe they would start listening, perhaps? Or have you fallen into the "do as I say" culture that is so well described in this article?

  • David
    August 27, 2010 - 17:07

    I agree, it is both a well stated and pertinent opinion. My fear however is; it is so pertinent that it will not be heard or given a second thought. Second thoughts on behalf of us all require an ability to think for oneself, to ask questions of oneself where we stand in relation to what a particular author, artist, poet or song writer is saying. We used to refer to that process as liberation or personal freedom, the inherent right to ask questions and to think for one self no matter how juxtaposed that was to dominant culture. What we have become however is small minded and very quickly threatened society that is defined almost by an oxymoron. On one end we tout the unconditional acceptance of all peoples regardless of ethnic backgrounds. On the other end however, the invitation is limited to those who embrace homogeneity. Everyone’s welcome as long as the dominant order (inferred but never stated) is accepted. Deviance from homogeneity is punishable by exclusion, not through physical death but rather, via the destruction of all things that could remind one of a personal identity such as a job, relationships, achievements or recognition of any talents. Surrender yourself to belong. You can have morals, values and opinions just keep your mouth shut about them and at all costs, do not threaten the order of any action or rubric of thought dictated by the leaders of a particular society. Just keep your mouths shut, be good little consumers and you can have your piece of the social prize, a good job, a nice house and a 2.5 member family. Speak and you will be excluded via a social homicide until you are rendered the walking lifeless among us, now invisible. Is this not the essential foundation of all fascist regimes? Let the murder commence but remember, your children are watching and understand more than you ever thought possible.

  • MommyGummi
    August 27, 2010 - 13:49

    Everyone is commenting about the smoker's rights..what about my right as a non-smoker to want to walk into a building and not have to breathe in the foul stale cigarette smoke from someone else's discusting habit!! I think all public properties should be smoke free. If you want to smoke, just do it in/on your own property.

  • Hans
    August 27, 2010 - 11:25

    Excellent piece! I don't smoke, but I'm quite sick of seeing smokers bullied around and told what to do by self-righteous people who seem to care more about bossing others around than about what's the best way to create a positive, healthy work environment. I like the way you frame the "do-as-I-say culture". (there's also a whole industry grown up around anti-smoking; I sometimes wonder whether these anti-smoking lobby groups care more about their wallets than about public health!) And unless I'm mistaken, haven't there been some successful cases of employees in Canada winning arbitration rulings ordering that employers have a duty to accommodate addicted smokers (thus removing blanket bans)? Hopefully the employees/students at the College will file complaints to that effect...

  • Chantelle
    August 27, 2010 - 07:50

    Smoking bans, hogweed, global warming, lawn chemicals, health care, the seal hunt? Why no mention of the Franco-Prussian war?