“A dog in the manger”
Spiteful and mean-spirited.
The infamous ‘dog in a manger’, who occupied the manger not because he wanted to eat the hay there but to prevent the other animals from doing so, is generally said to have been the invention of the Greek storyteller Aesop (circa 600 BC).
If there’s one thing that really pisses me off, it’s self-righteous, sanctimonious arseholes who lobby for legislation banning stuff they personally don’t like. It seems to be an attitude that has gained huge momentum over the past few decades, and I’m not entirely sure I understand why.
The original example of this in modern history was the infamous Volstead Act, which came into effect in 1920. It was a classic case of “I don’t like it, so nobody should be allowed to do it”. And despite the fact that it was a monumental failure, and brought with it massively disruptive unintended consequences, it seems that ‘those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it’.
And so they have, in many shapes and forms.
Really, you would have thought that people would learn from their mistakes, but it would appear not.
Following hard on the heels of the eventual repeal of the Volstead act came the 1925 Dangerous Drugs Act, which came into force in the UK in 1928:
Cannabis first became illegal in the UK, and most of the rest of the world, on 28th September 1928 when the 1925 Dangerous Drugs Act came into force. There were no British domestic reasons, no lobbying for or against prohibition, and no Parliamentary debates.
The Act controlling ‘Indian Hemp and all resins and preparations based thereon’ had been passed after Britain signed the 1925 Geneva International Convention on Narcotics Control, organised by the League of Nations. Asked what it was all about on a slow day in Parliament, a junior Home Office Minister explained that the Convention could not be ratified without an ‘important but small’ law being passed. ‘What it does is include coca leaves under a former Act. They are the real basis of cocaine – we place them in the same category as raw opium.’ Cannabis itself was never mentioned aloud.
This apathy was nothing new. When the 1920 Act controlling opium and cocaine was passed, there were problems finding enough MPs to vote on the committee stages. In 1893 a huge report by the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission had concluded that ‘the moderate use of hemp drugs is practically attended by no evil results at all’. It recommended, for India, ‘restraining use and improving the revenue by the imposition of suitable taxation’ at ‘as high a rate of duty as can be levied without inducing illicit practices’ on the grounds that ‘the best way to restrict the consumption of drugs is to tax them.’ Taxes on cannabis were already normal in India – Bengal state government made about £100,000 per year through the 1860’s [£5-10 million in today’s money]. This report from the Empire was never publicly discussed in the UK, and the authorities were content to have no laws at all controlling cannabis for another thirty years.
The herb had few supporters in the 1920’s. European hemp for ropes and paper was usually believed to be a separate plant, though related. Modern medical uses were rare and both traditional herbal medicines and patent potions had become unfashionable at the turn of the century, after campaigns by the British Medical Association. Apart from a few adventurous poets and musicians, there were hardly any recreational cannabis users in Europe.
There was little or no opposition to cannabis use, either. Prohibitionist campaigns worked against alcohol and cocaine at home, opium abroad. Some people thought opiate users would take up cannabis if their supplies were cut off. ‘Drugs’ were seen as filthy foreign stuff which should be suppressed for the foreigners’ own good. Fear and contempt of ‘coloureds’, and of sex, was the visible motive in a few 1920’s newspaper drug scandals about foreigners with cocaine or opium, and the English girls they allegedly corrupted and destroyed, but cannabis was rarely accused.
Cannabis was added to the agenda of the 1925 Convention on Narcotics Control because Egypt and Turkey proposed it. Both countries had histories of prohibition based on interpretations of Islamic law; newly secular, they were trying to be ‘modern’. The Egyptian delegate denounced ‘Hashism’ which he said caused from 30-60 per cent of the insanity in his country. ‘In support of this contention… there are three times as many cases of mental alienation among men as among women, and it is an established fact that men are much more addicted to hashish than women’. Hashish addicts, he said, were regarded as useless derelicts. ‘His eye is wild and the expression of his face is stupid. He is silent; has no muscular power; suffers from physical ailments, heart troubles, digestive troubles etc; his intellectual faculties gradually weaken and the whole organism decays. The addict very frequently becomes neurasthenic and eventually insane.’
Once again, the unintended consequences of this ill-thought-out legislation have been devastating, and we are still suffering from those consequences. In fact if anything, they have become worse as time has passed. And yet the legislation was just rubber-stamped through parliament with no thought for the possible fallout that might ensue.
Having seen what happened as a result of prohibition, and then having watched the ‘Drugs War’ unfold, one would (again) think that legislators would be wary of prohibition as a legislative tool. After all, alcohol prohibition caused far more problems than it was supposedly meant to solve, and the Dangerous Drugs Act has soaked up trillions of dollars in implementation and prosecution, and has arguably created the drug culture that exists today. Not to mention criminalising and destroying the lives of millions.
But no, still we have them. The sanctimonious know-it-alls who just can’t help themselves. They see something they don’t like, and rather than thinking “Well ok, I don’t like it, but no-one is forcing me to indulge, so I can ignore it”, they think “I don’t like that. We should have a law which forbids anyone from indulging”. So the “I don’t like smoking (even though I don’t have to smoke myself) so let’s have some laws to stop others from doing it” crowd started lobbying government. They knew there had to be more than “I don’t like it” to justify their stance, so it became a ‘health’ issue. “We want to save these people from themselves” was the rallying cry. Of course, they don’t actually give a flying fuck about anyone’s health; they just want to stop people enjoying something that they find objectionable. And make themselves a comfortable living doing so.
But what motivates them?
By ‘them’, I don’t mean the serried ranks of useful idiots who have been so comprehensively indoctrinated with the anti-smoking propaganda that they actually believe that people are dying like flies directly as a result of smoking (and killing all those around them with deadly ‘second-hand’ smoke). They have no power other than to indulge their state sanctioned bigotry, which they tend to do at every opportunity.
I mean the movers and shakers in Tobacco Control. The people who know that the whole anti-smoking movement is built on a tissue of lies, exaggeration, cherry-picked and manipulated statistics, and junk science. What drives them to persecute their fellow man with such evangelical zeal?
Is it just the pleasure of creating misery for others? I’m sure most of them wouldn’t see it like that.
Or is it simply that they make a fat living out of it, soaking up the taxpayers’ dollar? Money is a powerful motivator and can assuage a guilty conscience very effectively.
Perhaps it’s a form of compulsive obsessive disorder, and their compulsion, and obsession, is to stop people from indulging in what they consider to be a disgusting habit.
Or is it just a control thing? Like the school bully, who gets his kicks by making the other kids do what he tells them by dint of force. The mere act of subjugating others to his will is where his pleasure lies.
Could it be just another manifestation of ‘progressive’, globalist politics, like the equally risible ‘Global Warming’ scam? Part of the movement to tear down the old order and replace it with the Brave New World? It fits into that scenario quite well, since smoking is known to improve cognitive ability and has always been popular with the great thinkers and artists; and in the vision of the ‘Progressives’, individualism and self-determination are actively discouraged.
I suspect it’s a combination of all of the above, brought together to form the basis of an unholy jihad against those who refuse to conform to the path laid out for them by their superiors.
I also think they unexpectedly find that they have a huge battle on their hands. One that they will eventually lose. And they will lose it because they have been hubristic for too long. The plan was carefully drawn up, and equally carefully implemented, but it failed to take into account advances in technology.
In the days when everyone got their information from the MSM, it was easy to propagate the lies and misinformation, secure in the knowledge that no-one would question the press releases about the ‘latest research’ (well, it was in the paper, so it must be true. Experts have said…). But now, of course, we have the internet. We can look at, and question, the actual minutiae of that ‘latest research’ critically, and see where it is defective, or how the results have been selectively reported to convey a message that is at odds with the actual conclusions. And as the exclusive possession of their knowledge seeps away from them, so does the power that comes with it.
And equally catastrophic for Tobacco Control has been the advent of the electronic cigarette. E-cigs have thrown a huge spanner in the works of TC. They are in disarray as never before. Schisms are opening up between those who actually thought it had something to do with health, and those who have a pathological hatred for anything which even vaguely resembles smoking (who seem to be in the majority in the higher echelons of TC). E-cigs have exposed the hypocrisy of the whole anti-tobacco movement, and will continue to further dilute their message. And the more they squirm and twist and turn in their attempts to marginalise e-cigs, the more people will be alerted to the essential misanthropy of the anti-smoking movement, and the less credibility will be afforded to their pronouncements.
Tobacco Control’s house is built on foundations of sand, and the tide is coming in.
I dearly hope I live long enough to see the sanctimonious ones’ fall from grace.
Dogs in the manger, indeed. And now we want the dogs out and our manger back.