Social Icons

Saturday 6 October 2012

Deception Comes Easy For Them

It takes no courage at all to sit down and write posts for this blog. It's mostly easy to do. The difficult part, as any writer will tell you, is forcing yourself to sit down and write.  Motivation, inspiration, determination and time are the things that are required. There are a hundred things I could be doing (or sometimes should be doing), but I write when I can because we need more voices out there providing an opposing viewpoint to the anti-smoker, anti-drinker, anti-civil liberties and pro-Public Health crusaders.

The hard-to-swallow truth, however, is that there are not enough voices in opposition. People are afraid to say what they think. People are afraid to stand up for themselves. And too many people simply do not care either way. This leaves the unenviable task of challenging the prevailing and truly evil Public Health crusade to a few disparate voices willing to stand up and say something.

Whether a loose collective of bloggers has any relevancy to the debate can be argued, certainly, but I take it as validation knowing that the tobacco control industry views free speech and bloggers as a threat to their campaign by including them on their wiki of shame.  In any case, what we all have in common is that we'll write what we think, promoting freedom of choice and liberty for all. More or less.  Sometimes we feel obligated to write in support of those who often do not stand up for themselves, which is curiously both gratifying and disappointing.  It's disappointing because if more people did fight back then we would not find ourselves in this situation where governments believe they have the moral authority to dictate how you live your life. 

Every so often someone outside the collective does stand up to the bullies. And when this happens it's an absolute joy to read and write about.  I'm talking about Bandit Brand, the California-based T-shirt peddlers who Simon Clark wrote about a few days ago.  I'm not going to recover that part of the story, though, suffice to say that Bandit Brand was not cowed by the Public Health nutjob puritans in New Zealand who objected to a seeing a woman smoking on a poster. Bandit Brand made no apologies for their poster and told the nannies to fuck off.

That act of defiance endeared me to Bandit Brand, because how many other small, medium or large companies would have backed down and apologised and removed their ad campaign?  Most? Certainly too many.  Anyway, they are awesome as far as I'm concerned, and I immediately "liked" Bandit Brand's Facebook page, which put their posts into my news feed. And from that I learned that there is another part to this story, which I feel is certainly worth covering. This other part of the story is about deception and cowardice. Maybe. Make of it what you will.

I mentioned at the start that it takes no courage at all to write posts for this blog. Indeed, you could say I am mostly anonymous. Except that I'm not.  Jay is my real name; it's the name I use in real life every day. I have never given you my surname because it's unimportant. I don't tell you much about my life because that is also unimportant. What I think is important is the message. It makes no difference who I am, where I live, where I've been and what I do for work. Knowing those things won't change the message, so I don't feel obligated to provide them.  "Jay" suits me just fine as an on-line persona, and honestly I prefer to keep my on-line life apart from my real life, just as I keep my work life separate from my private life. I am a private person.

This is why I keep relatively anonymous. It is more to do with that there is way too much information about every last one of us on-line and our governments and other organisations are keen to exploit that. Of course, sometimes it's our government that "accidentally" puts that info out there in the first place, which allows people like me to learn things about you, if I so desire. And in some cases I do desire it.

Most of the collective of liberty-loving bloggers and a few of my readers do know my real full name. I don't believe that it makes one bit of difference to any of them. I know some of their names, too, and really, so what?  The only people who would care are those that would try to hurt, villify, and denigrate you.  They're the ones who complain about people being anonymous on-line.  And, as you will see, that makes them hypocrites.

So Bandit Brand got an e-mail from a Public Health nutjob, and Bandit Brand posted that correspondence on their Facebook page.  It appears to me that message came via Bandit Brand's contact page on their main web site. The message simply said:
How uncool to be promoting smoking to young women.
And Jen, of Bandit Brand, replied as follows:

As awesome as that response is, now I wish to draw your attention back to the original message sent to Bandit Brand.  The sender's name is Lou Scott, and the e-mail address is

I'm always suspicious of people who send messages like that, thinking they probably work in tobacco control. My suspicions are often correct. So my first act was to plumb in the e-mail address into Google. It came back with only one hit.

Following that link led to a written submission (PDF) to the New Zealand Parliament in respect of their Alcohol Reform Bill.  I've screen-capped a portion of the first page (redacted - something that was requested but apparently the NZ Parliament committee couldn't be bothered with (do not trust your governments!), so I'll be kind and remove almost all of the contact details), and the highlighted parts are relevant:

Oops! The NZ government really messed up here.

Initially, I believed that the e-mail address belonged to Penelope's husband and that they shared it. It wasn't until I began to search on both Lou Scott and Penelope Scott that I realised something wasn't quite right.  Let's focus on who Penelope is for the moment.

Penelope Scott is a True Believer. She is the Health Promotion Manager at Cancer Society of New Zealand (Otago and Southland Division), as you can see here (warning, slow-loading and bandwidth heavy page due to huge images not properly thumbnailed), or you can just click here for a more reasonably sized image.  And lest you might be tempted to think she is not in the tobacco control industry, I give you this which indicates she works on behalf of Smokefree Otago:

Source: NZ Parliament
So, I kept on searching and found  more than a few other things, but you get the point. She's one of them.

I then wanted to find out who Lou Scott was. Another Public Health believer, possibly with the dubious title Professor of Public Health or something? Were these two people a husband and wife team, a dynamic duo fighting the evils of smoking, alcohol and freedom of choice in Kiwi land?

I searched for Lou Scott. And searched. Then I searched some more.

Nothing. I couldn't find any trace of Lou Scott involved in Public Health. That would not be unusual per se, but I had a feeling that Lou Scott was not who he claimed to be.  I had a hunch.

In order to be certain about my hunch, I had to do two more things. The first was to locate Penelope Scott's Facebook page with the hope that some of her personal information was publicly available, and I was not disappointed. (Although easily found, for the moment anyway, I will not link to Penelope's page.)  None of her Facebook friends are named Lou, or Louis or anything like that. Although this Penelope Scott "liked"  the plain packs NZ Facebook page. That is not proof, though.  The second thing I did was search for "Penelope Louise Scott" because I thought Lou might be short for Louise, and again I was not disappointed.

People often ask me how I have come to know things, and I tell them that all of the information is out there on the Internet.  It's no big trick. You only need a little determination and motivation to look -- anyone can do this. I mean that. Anyone. It helps to know how best to use various search engines; how to make them give you the results you want and to limit the scope so you don't waste time trawling through irrelevant web pages. But any of you can do this just as easily as I can, if you have the inclination and time to do it.

So I found a Penelope Louise Scott on a few genealogy web sites, and by comparing the info to her publicly-available Facebook friends list, and by looking at what Penelope's friends have posted publicly, I know that I have the right person.  I did do a bit more to confirm, although I probably didn't need to.

Anyway, Penelope Louise Scott is also Lou Scott. If the New Zealand Parliament had not made Scott's e-mail address public, I might not have ever known that. But if you have received a scathing, puritanical e-mail from someone named Lou Scott, now you know who it really is.

The question I have is why she won't send her e-mails using her real name? Why hide that?  Why use a pseudonym?  I think I know the answer to that.

A lot of people in the Public Health religion pretend they are caring, loving, decent people, out to save everyone from all of the harms that people could possibly inflict on themselves. But peel back that false veneer and you will see them for who they really are. Hateful, spiteful, mean-spirited people who feel at ease lording their moral superiority over those who fail to follow the commandments of the Public Health religion. And they will use any tactics they feel are necessary to advance their agenda, to promote their propaganda, to force us all to kneel down at the altar and partake of the sacrament for our own good. It's a crusade, and they do what they like.

If Penelope had any moral conviction about her beliefs, she wouldn't hide behind a pseudonym to send an e-mail to Bandit Brand. She would have sent that e-mail as herself, the same name she uses in her tobacco control industry work for the Cancer Society and Smokefree Otago (which, by the way, the Cancer Society is responsible for the plain packs campaign in New Zealand, the web site is registered to them).  But she didn't.

Somehow, I really don't think her role at the Cancer Society would have been compromised if she had used her real name. I have a feeling the Cancer Society would approve, to be honest. Dunno. Maybe it's because Penelope lobbies the NZ government regularly?  Perhaps Penelope was using simple deception to make Bandit Brand think it was an ordinary consumer who was complaining.  Yeah, that seems likely in my opinion.  If so, it's also cowardly, disingenuous, and typical of people who work for or support the tobacco control industry.  No lie too great or small.  Hell, it takes even less courage to send an e-mail under false pretences than it does to write a blog.

But even so, Penelope has every right to write under any name she chooses.  Just as I do, and as any of you do too. It's not her fault that the NZ government is incompetent and outed her.  It's also possible that she prefers to be called Lou rather than Penelope, Penny, Pen, Nelly or any other possible derived nicknames of her first name.  Just as I prefer to be called Jay, rather than Jason.  (Ah... another bit of info about me -- do with it what you will, you evil bastards!)  We all have our reasons for the things we do. Given what I know of the tobacco and alcohol control industries, how they operate, how they aim to deceive, I simply remain suspect of Penelope's motivations in this case, as one is wont to do.

There was a further e-mail exchange between Bandit Brand and Penelope "Lou" Scott. You can read it here on Bandit Brand's Facebook page, but I've screen-capped Penelope's e-mail for your ease of reference:

Is that a plain packs supporter saying that advertising alone doesn't make people smoke?
Why, yes, I believe it is.
Anyway, Jen at Bandit Brand is unafraid to say what she thinks, and she'll stand up for herself and her company. She doesn't need us or anyone to do it for her. She puts it all out there, from the heart, and she is refreshingly honest and unashamed.  Jen's a hero in my book.  I truly hope she has great success with her company.

Penelope Scott, however ... well, she's a anti-smoker, anti-drinker, a True Believer Public Health nutjob in my opinion.  I have no hope for people like her.

Penelope Scott
Penelope Scott
Photo: Cancer Society of New Zealand