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Thursday 27 September 2012

How the Government Lobbies Itself Using Children

Liverpool.  That bastion of creativity in Northwest England that gave us The Beatles, Echo & The Bunnymen, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and ... erm -- OK, why not? -- and Flock of Seagulls, to name but just a few of many famous musical artists who hail from the World Capital City of Pop.  Liverpool has cool architecture, historic gardens, museums and numerous art galleries with priceless artwork and everything.

So what sort of stunning artworks are the up and coming young artists of Liverpool producing these days?  Well, allow me to share a few examples from some super-creative youngsters in a group called D-MYST. These were brought to my attention by Virginia, who writes the Hell Nanny blog, so big thanks to her. I think you're going to love them:

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See what I mean?  Those are -- well, words fail me.  Some real artistic talent there, though.  I'm absolutely gobsmacked. 

Of course, some of you might be a bit put out or angry by these pictures, but don't blame the kids. It's not their fault. They are just doing what they've been told to do by Liverpool's city council, the NHS, a few charities, and some truly misguided grown-ups at a PR firm, all of whom should know better than to purposefully exploit children in pursuit of their agenda of eradicating smokers.

Kids are malleable creatures, easily moulded into any ideological forms we adults could possibly inflict on them. They are like sponges, if you will, and they will soak up their environment and pretty much believe whatever we tell them. Well, all people are malleable to an extent (you can make people believe and do almost anything), but kids are even more impressionable than adults. Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Anthropogenic Global Warming -- they'll accept almost every "fact" or "truth" we adults tell them.  It is for this reason that the tobacco control industry seeks out young children, to socially-engineer them into little hating machines. Get 'em while they're young, they say.

So, we're not blaming the kids.  Not even when the adults let the youngsters put on white masks to hide their faces whilst they march through Liverpool spreading anti-smoker propaganda.  For example, see this photo (I've chosen to blur everyone's faces, except for ones in masks which already hide anyone's identity):

Is it just me, or does anyone else have a problem with adults asking or letting young teen-aged children to put on a mask and march through the streets to get smoking banned on television?

I mean, this is abominable behaviour. The adults in the tobacco control industry are practically ejaculating all over themselves whilst attacking Big Tobacco for using a shiny trade mark on a packet of cigarettes, something which they all say is Big Tobacco "luring children to smoke." And yet these tobacco controllers think it's OK to use kids to do their bidding?

You know what? Even if we accept that kids are mysteriously and magically going to start smoking because of a bloody trade mark and packet design (and I certainly do not accept that, but let's play along for illustrative purposes), I don't see any tobacco companies or any opponents of tobacco control actually using young children to promote any kind of opposing agenda whatsoever.  Could you imagine the outrage if anyone even thought about doing that?

So why the bloody hell are the anti-smokers allowed to use real children, who cannot legally vote, who cannot legally buy tobacco, or buy alcohol, who cannot even work part-time jobs or drive cars for that matter, to promote their anti-smoking propaganda?  Why is this acceptable? Where's the outrage?

It's one thing to educate kids about the risks of smoking, but it is entirely a different thing altogether to teach them to hate people who smoke, to encourage it. It's immoral.

I figure most of you are aware of Grandad's Law, that states: The first person to mention “the children” in an attempt to sway public opinion has lost their case.

Grandad's Law is great. It is pithy and I love it. And I'd like to offer a new law, not quite as pithy, which I hope complements Grandad's, and I will name it Jay's Law 

Jay's Law states that:

Any person, group, organisation or government that uses children to promote and disseminate propaganda designed to encourage societal and/or legislative change for any agenda or cause, regardless of claimed benefits or their intent, shall be considered execrable, evil and tyrannical.

In other words, people: DO NOT TURN CHILDREN INTO HATEFUL ACTIVISTS!  Can I be any clearer about that?  If you do use children in this way, you're evil. You are the worst of society. You are everything that is wrong in this world. There is no getting around this. You are bottom-feeding scum.  If you're an adult and you want to try to change the world, hey, here's a novel idea: do it yourself! Or try to convince other adults to do it. Leave the kids out of it.

I repeat: Do not ever use children to go out into the world and do your bidding. That's just fucking heinous.

So who's responsible for this monstrous disaster of an anti-smoker hate group using children?  Good luck finding out, casual web surfer and citizen. Starting from D-MYST's Facebook page, we learn nothing at all. The About page merely states:
The D-MYST Agency is a group of young people working with marketing professionals on a pioneering health marketing campaign to create the world's first 'virtual' social marketing agency.
And the page provides a link to their web site.

If you now go to their official web site, you'll find out no information at all. There is no contact info. There are no explanations, disclaimers, nor even a warning about using cookies (and this UK-owned site has most certainly stored cookies in my browser -- click here and here to see the proof). There is nothing but this one page with a link to their petition and to a blog:

Skipping the blog link and the petition for a moment, I did a WHOIS search on the site's owner.  Turns out the website is registered to PR firm called Kenyon Fraser.  This is not a surprise, since the Facebook page said D-MYST (which stands for Direct Movement by the Youth Smokefree Team) works with "marketing professionals."  What is perhaps more interesting is Kenyon Fraser's list of clients.  Please click that preceding link, and you will see that the vast majority of their clients are in healthcare, primarily dozens of NHS trusts all over England, but also, importantly, SmokeFree Liverpool and Liverpool City Council among other government councils.

Going to D-MYST's blog, we can see at the bottom of the site that Kenyon Fraser is listed as D-MYST's Marketing Partner. But if you click the link that reads Visit Our Sponsor, that takes you to SmokeFree Liverpool's web site.  Sponsor?  OK, that means SmokeFree Liverpool is funding D-MYST.  Now, you might reasonably think that SmokeFree Liverpool's site would indicate somewhere on the site who owns it or which organisations are heading up SmokeFree Liverpool.  But it doesn't (nor does this site have any cookie warnings despite storing five of them in my browser). And if you did a WHOIS search on the site, you would find it too is registered by Kenyon Fraser. Who else? Right?

The point here is that none of these sites is remotely transparent about who owns them.  However, it's not exactly a secret if you're willing to look. In October 2010, Simon Clark wrote about who funded D-MYST for ConservativeHome in this article  called "The state should stop giving anti-smoking groups public money to lobby the Government."  He wrote:
When the results of the consultation were announced in December 2008 the Department of Health boasted that, "Over 96,000 responses were received ... the largest ever response to a consultation of this kind. Responses overwhelmingly supported removing tobacco displays in shops, and tough action to restrict access to vending machines."

But was there really huge public support for further tobacco controls, as the DH suggested? Of the 96,515 responses the overwhelming majority were pre-written postcards or e-mail campaigns. A total of 49,507 were generated by Smokefree Northwest, 8,128 by Smokefree North East, and a further 10,757 from something called D-MYST.

A simple investigation revealed that all three are publicly-funded. Smokefree Northwest is led by the DH’s regional tobacco policy manager in Manchester; Smoke Free North East is funded by the region's primary care trusts and is linked to an alliance of health, public sector and community organisations; and D-MYST is SmokeFree Liverpool’s youth organisation.

In short, this wasn’t a public consultation at all. It was a public sector consultation.
So it's not like I'm breaking any new ground here.  D-MYST has been around for a little while; it's part of Liverpool's SmokeFree Kids programme, which is run by SmokeFree Liverpool, which is itself formed of  government agencies and other groups as follows:
SmokeFree Liverpool is a partnership which comprises Central, North and South Primary Care Trusts, Liverpool City Council, the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, North West TUC, Health@Work, Scarman Trust and Liverpool Health Promotion Service.
So, as usual, we have government lobbying government.  Except it's worse here because D-MYST uses children to do the lobbying work, which of course invokes Jay's Law, and those kids are ably [mis]guided by a PR firm that works mainly with government agencies and primary care trusts. Is there any doubt this firm Kenyon Fraser marketing and PR firm is benefiting hugely from receiving loads of our taxpayer money?

Just to be clear: Our taxpayer money is being funnelled through local government purses and NHS trusts to Kenyon Fraser, so that this firm can help teach our kids to how best to hate smokers, how to be mask-wearing activists, and lest I forget, how to produce those wonderful artworks above.  Beautiful, isn't it?  We are all paying tax for this. You have to sit back and marvel at its genius, like it's the fucking Matrix.

We also have this government-run, government-funded D-MYST petitioning MPs to "Remove smoking from pre-watershed TV programme to protect young people."  The petition, which has 212 signatures so far and was submitted by Kenyon Fraser's employee Lorna Young on behalf of D-MYST, reads (emphasis added):
More than 100,000 smokers die each year, in the UK, from a smoking related disease; two thirds of smokers become addicted before they are 18yrs old. Research shows that there is a close relationship between children’s exposure to smoking on TV and take up of smoking.

As the rest of the country moves towards becoming smokefree, popular pre- watershed programmes continue to show scene after scene with people smoking, often glamourising it and rarely showing the negative consequences.

We call on the Government to protect children’s health and save lives by removing smoking from pre-watershed programmes.
Research? What research?  Glantz's dodgy-ass research?  Please.  And "scene after scene"?  Surely, they embellish.  Scene after scene?  Really? Pish. I don't watch much television, but I'm pretty sure that's a gross exaggeration. Not even all of the old films they play on various channels have smoking in every scene.

Nevertheless, even if it's true that everyone on television is smoking all the time on every channel, and this exposure to smoking could make every last ten-year-old child in Liverpool start smoking themselves, then why does the Root of All Evil, Simon Chapman, say otherwise?  Surely one of the world's leading tobacco control industry advocates would be all over this agenda. But he's not. Maybe because he understands that stuff like this is ludicrous and really hurts the tobacco control industry's cause? (emphasis added):
"Fourth, and most fundamentally, we are concerned about the assumption that advocates for any cause should feel it reasonable that the state should regulate cultural products like movies, books, art, and theatre in the service of their issue. We believe that many citizens and politicians who would otherwise give unequivocal support to important tobacco control policies would not wish to be associated with efforts to effectively censor movies other than to prevent commercial product placement by the tobacco industry."
Hilariously, Stanton Glantz was so steamed by Chapman's paper that last year he felt obligated to write a scathing rebuttal:
Criticism is the key to scientific and public health progress. For this criticism to be productive, however, the critics need to address the actual policy proposals being advanced. When Chapman and Farrelly argue, “The reductio ad absurdum of arguments to prevent children ever seeing smoking in movies would be to stop children seeing smoking anywhere,” they are simply knocking down their own straw man.
I suppose these two men won't be posting any Christmas cards to each other for a few years.  Oh, I quite liked the following bit from Glantz, too, which all by itself tells you everything you need to know about the tobacco control industry:
Finally, Chapman and Farrelly ignore the implications of the fact that governments are now spending billions of dollars subsidizing films that promote smoking [5] or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that this practice be ended [4]. Is silence agreement? Should governments be spending millions on smoking prevention and, at the same time, millions on smoking promotion?
See? It's always about money. Always. And a little jealousy, too. Only tobacco control should get money from government. The obvious difference between these two TCI front men is that Chapman is by far cleverer and able to see the long view for tobacco control as well as its obvious limitations at present, whereas Stanton Glantz is more like a deranged, unhinged, shrill, obsessed lunatic in dire need of a comb and/or some industrial-strength hair product, who has been single-mindedly hell-bent on destroying Big Tobacco and eradicating smokers from both the big and small screens for the last four or five decades.

But I digress. Let's continue on.

One of the people responsible for the creation of D-MYST is a woman named Helen Casstles. Here she is:
Helen Casstles
Image: Twitter

An NHS employee, she worked with SmokeFree Liverpool for many years, and was (or still is -- it's unclear, presently) the Programme Manager for D-MYST.  If you'd like, you can view her evil machinations the SmokeFree Kids presentation she created several years ago in full  here on the web site (PDF).  Here are just two of the presentation's slides:
This handy slide shows how SmokeFree Liverpool is organised and funded. Nice, huh?

Key word: De-normalising
Ms Casstles is clearly a tobacco control industry representative then. She's even, like, done workshops and stuff, dudes. In fact, here she is in October 2011 doing a Making Smoking History - Protect Our Children workshop with our old shopkeeper pal, Gateshead's Councillor John McClurey.  (You remember Mr McClurey, don't you?  He's that ASH Stooge I mentioned once.) 

But of course, lobbying governments and city councils takes work and a lot of time. Despite one's efforts there is always a risk that you won't succeed in duping politicians into getting children to hate smokers.  There is another way, however, of ensuring that the tobacco control industry's nasty, hateful agenda against adult smokers will prevail (or at least improve the odds): You need to be in government to help that happen.

And guess who got elected to Liverpool's City Council in May this year?  That's right. Helen Casstles. Here she is again:
Celebrating another win for the Tobacco Control Industry. Woo-hoo!
Image source Liverpool Echo
My, she does seem quite happy. Funny that a "veteran public sector worker" and dedicated tobacco controller would move into politics.  Never would have guessed. According to her declaration of interests she gets to keep her job as a Public Health Practitioner for Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust, too.

Nice work if you can get it, eh?  Public purse job at the NHS. Public purse job as a city councillor.  Fucking gravy.  But to be fair to her she's not taking any of the usual perks. She declined to accept two tickets to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra Summer Pops 2012: The Two of Us: The Lennon & McCartney Songbook show.  Maybe she's not a Beatles fan? Who knows?

And if you didn't have enough links to click on, have a look at some of Ms Casstles's recent tweets:
US gvmt can't force tobacco co's to put graphic health warnings on cig packs, appeals court rules Disgraceful.
Great news from Australia re High Court decision and plain packs. #plainpacksprotect

Is this our lot? Our destiny? A world filled with horrible and faked graphic images on products that the nannying tyrants despise?  Must we tolerate our local and national governments staffed with hundreds of people like Ms Casstles and others in the tobacco control industry who have the dubious legal authority to take our money and give it to marketing firms who then spend it on tobacco (and alcohol) control programmes that use our very own kids as propaganda tools against us, the despised underclass of smokers?

I suppose we can all guess this how will work out for the adult smokers in Liverpool -- that bastion of musical and artistic creativity, the World Capital City of Pop, a city the WHO is proud to call its own for the relentless campaign to eradicate smokers no matter how great the costs to society are.  Denormalisation. It's a comin'. Because that ol' public sector gravy train of hate and prohibition keeps a-rollin' on and there ain't no a-stoppin' it until it's run over every last sinner.

And your children? They are the deceived minions and masked footsoldiers helping to push that train down the crooked track.  Think about that.