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Saturday 31 March 2012

Double Standards2

You could be forgiven for honestly believing that Britain has robust free speech.  You can say a lot of things freely, for instance you can attack smokers and drinkers and fat people all you like, without fear of being prosecuted or going to jail -- hell, the British government will even pay you with taxpayers' money to say these things. But the UK has carved out exceptions to free speech that severely curtail what you can say, or write, or quite possibly even think. 

Before I continue, I need to make one thing very, very clear:  I do not truck with racism.  I have personally experienced racist attacks, have personally witnessed it happening to others right here in the UK and abroad, and I have always spoken out against it and told people that I thought their views and actions were abhorrent. I could write 100,000 words on the subject of racism and intolerance and not even begin to scratch at its surface.  It is simply shameful, and those who spout off their hateful, bigoted views should be publicly castigated and shunned.  All of that said, I truly do not believe that making racist remarks is an offence that deserves jail time, but the UK government disagrees with my opinion.

In order for robust free speech to work, we must allow speech that we do not like.  Even bigoted speech.  We need to challenge these bigots publicly, and we should not hold back on calling out those who use their speech to promote their hateful opinions.

Which brings us to a very unpleasant boy named Liam Stacey.  You've probably read about him. You probably know that he's going to jail for making some truly dreadful comments about black people on Twitter.  There is no excuse for Liam's rants on Twitter, regardless if he was excessively inebriated or what have you.  The things he said disgust me, but I would defend his right to say them freely while at the same time calling him a hateful cunt.  (Note: Liam likes that word, too.  I'm sure he wouldn't mind being called it.)   As appalling as Liam Stacey is, it's even more appalling that he is going to jail for merely tweeting his awful views.

But this post isn't really about Liam.  It is about double standards.  In fact, it is double standards2.

Case in point: Diane Abbott, MP, and Shadow Public Health Minister.  I have no idea if Diane is a racist -- I have never met her. I have seen her on BBC and I rarely agree with anything she has said. She has made some truly bigoted remarks about "white people" time and time again.

"One of the things about this new leadership is how post-meritocratic it is. Two posh white boys from the home counties."

"...blonde, blue-eyed" [nurses working at Homerton Hospital] might "never have met a black person before, let alone touched one."

"White people loving playing divide and rule. We should not play their game #tacticsasoldascolonialism."
Diane also believes that Britain invented racism, which shows a stunning lack of knowledge about history, but never mind that.

So, why isn't Diane going to jail for her comments?  Hell, why is she still serving as an MP?

For starters, she was wise enough to avoid using racially-charged epithets, although I could make a convincing argument that using "white people" in a particular context is semantically no different than any other racial epithet.  Diane is black, of Jamaican heritage.  So does being black automatically give her a free pass to say anything she likes about other people who aren't black?  Finally, Diane is a government minister.  And it pretty much goes without saying that MPs work under one set of rules for them, while the rest of the riff-raff class labour under an entirely different rule set abridging their speech.

Apparently, the rules of free speech are entirely different for black MPs.  Double standards2. Look, free speech has to cut both ways. If Liam is guilty of a racially-aggravated offence, so by definition is Diane Abbott.  Her views on white people are pathetic and misguided.  She has no business representing anyone in any official capacity because she cannot be trusted to impartial and fair.

But I don't want to see either of these people in jail for their comments.  They should both be called out as bigots, they both should be shunned for making their comments, and more importantly the voters in Hackney should really think twice about re-electing Diane to public office.

Diane Abbott is a nasty piece of work, certainly.  She claims to believe in civil liberties, but she really doesn't believe that at all.  She, like Stephen Williams MP, limit their beliefs to a subset of the population to which they associate themselves. When she supports smoking bans and plain packs she is more or less telling us this: "I want these civil liberties for these people here, but that class of people over there do not deserve liberties."

Make no mistake, Diane Abbott is a hypocrite.  I'll leave it to you to decide whether you think she is racist.

One pack to rule them all!
Diane Abbott, MP - Protecting your children from colonialism and trade marks

Friday 30 March 2012

Can a Trade Mark Kill? Techdirt's Glyn Moody Thinks It Can.

Fortunately, I know almost nothing about Glyn Moody.  He's got a brief Wikipedia entry.  I think he writes about technology mostly.  Which brings me to my point:  Glyn Moody really ought to stay out of intellectual property law (IP) and also tobacco-related policies.  Focus on what you really know, Glyn. Whatever that is -- hackers, maybe? Because when you write drivel like this article, it makes you look like a hateful cunt.  To wit:

"[...] because those logos and trademarks are only valuable to the degree they have been attached to products that have caused death and disease: the "best" brands are those with a track record of selling – and hence killing – more people than rival products. In effect, the tobacco companies are complaining that all their hard work getting people addicted and smoking themselves to death will be wasted if the plain-packaging proposals for cigarettes are implemented."

Glyn.  Glyn.  Glynny-Glyn.  I don't know if you are a hateful cunt, or just hateful in general, or just an asshole.  I'm guessing you hate smoking, and you hate smokers, and you probably think it's fine to say smokers are bad people equivalent to paedophiles, and that third-hand smoke kills more than second-hand smoke, which is far more dangerous than the smoke that smokers are inhaling first-hand.  I don't know if you think that. Maybe you don't. But if you do think these things, bully for you. 

But when it comes to IP, your opinion in this instance is based on emotion and how you feel about tobacco (i.e. your opinion), not based in fact, nor is it based in law.  Tobacco is a legal product.  Companies that sell legal products have rights, even if you don't like what they sell.  Even if you think what they sell kills people, they still have a legal right to brand their goods.  This is important, Glyn:  Rights.  Law.  Legal products.  There are other legal products that kill people, Glyn, with far more efficacy. We like to call those pharmaceuticals.  Medicines, if you will.  Notwithstanding, there are simple, easy-to-get products on the shelves that could easily harm you.  Kill you, even.  They have warning labels.  So do cigarette packs.

But I fail to grasp your logic here:

"Patents can kill: so, it seems will trademarks, if tobacco companies get their way."

Hello?  What the fuck?  It wasn't a patent that killed anyone, Glynny-Glyn. That was a company enforcing its legal right to a monopoly on the product they invented or own the rights to sell and manufacture.  (I do think they could have acceded to the others' requests, but they didn't.  They could be complete assholes, sure.  Maybe they are. I dunno.)  You might want to parse that as being a "patent that kills" but that patent killed no one, except perhaps for trade mark attorneys who had to force it through the USPTO's arcane patent system.  Your point is invalid.  It was merely a lack of product availability.  It takes ages, months or sometimes years, to get a legally-acceptable licence in place to allow others to manufacture your goods, to transport those goods across state or international borders, and this is particularly true in respect of pharmaceuticals.  But you wouldn't know that, would you.

But hey, let us test your theory, Glynny-Glyn Moody.  Find me one person who died from only looking at pack of cigarettes.  Find me one person who died from looking at any trade mark.  Or a patent.  Just one, please.  All's I'm asking for is: One.  Uno.  Un.  Eins. Ichi. 

I'll be here, waiting for your reply.  In the meantime, good luck with your hate campaign against smokers, and to your buddy Mike as well. 

I wrote a book about Linux.
I wrote a book about Linux. That means I must be an expert on IP law.

image source: Wikipedia Commons.

Thursday 29 March 2012

Third-Hand Smoke Even More Dangerous Than Second-Hand Smoke

The tobacco control fanatics in America are lying again.  I stumbled onto this gem of an article via the completely fucking bullshit Tobacco Control Facebook page, which maybe you should avoid if anger is likely to increase your blood pressure.  Naturally, I've bookmarked it for future reference.

So, Maryland's ABC7 reporter anchorwoman Pamela Brown tell us that:

"Experts say second hand smoke is six to 12 times more toxic than smoke directly inhaled by a smoker."

Really?  Only six to twelve times more toxic?  Wow.  Non-smokers must be dropping like flies, Pamela.  That's OK, though.  I'm glad you fact-checked that stat.  What?  You didn't?

"[...]third hand smoke - the nicotine residue that clings to surfaces and never leaves." (emphasis mine)

Yeah, because who bothers to clean their fucking houses any more?  Is this what passes for journalism these days?   (Answer: Yes, of course it is.)

Wait.  It gets better.  Not satisfied with merely espousing the mantra of the neo-puritanical slags like Deborah Arnott and assholes like Simon Chapman, ABC7 carried out their own experiment.  What was that experiment?  Read for yourself:

"First, we wiped off a non-smokers windshield and it came back clean. Then we tried it on a long-time smoker's car – and the results show what the doctors have stated."

That's it. That's the confirmation that this mythical and poorly-named substance called third-hand smoke kills people.  A dirty windscreen.

The only thing we do know for certain is that the smoking owner of the car that ABC7 checked can't be fucking bothered to use a little Windex once and a while.

We also know that Pamela Brown is pretty sexy. 

Pamela Brown
Don't you dare move that hand down lower, mister! (Source:

Perhaps her editors made her say it.  Yeah, that's it.  They tied her up and ...

Well, who wouldn't?

Boycott the British Heart Foundation

Some time back, I might have considered the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to be a respectable, honest, worthwhile charity.  Like a lot of charities here in the UK, the BHF have high street charity retail shops staffed with numerous unpaid volunteers.  These people willingly give up their free time to support the BHF.  Perhaps they are, all of them, being deceived by an organisation that is utterly intolerant of personal choice. 

The BHF has moved away from purely charitable activities and is now aggressively attacking those it claims it wants to help - smokers.  I suppose the BHF has never been keen on smoking, but they've never really joined the loudmouth temperance movement until the last couple of years.  The BHF probably hates you, and it seems to suggest that you are incapable of being a good parent -- it implies that you and your children are complete fucking morons.  It tells you this by disseminating unproven claims in its literature (PDF), and by supporting and funding hate pressure groups like ASH.

Take for example, ASH Wales's latest job posting for a Research and Policy Officer.  In the job description (Word), it states:

This is a Britsh (sic) Heart Foundation funded post and the contract term is tied to the funding.

Emphasis mine. Apart from the fact that ASH Wales is incapable of proofreading and spell checking their documents to correct minor typos (you're not really surprised by that are you?), we see that the BHF is funding a year-long contract position. Why would the BHF give ASH Wales up to £26,000 to fund ASH's lies and hate campaign? If you donated to the BHF, or purchased something in their shops, or bought their Christmas cards in another retail outlet, did you think that your money would then be used to support ASH Wales? I bet you fucking didn't think that at all. I bet you thought, as I would have, that your money would go to research treatments and cures for heart disease.

But instead, the BHF gives a year's worth of salary to ASH. I'm a bit lazy, so I haven't looked to see if the BHF receives any money directly from government. If they do, then the government is still funding ASH by proxy via the BHF, which we have long suspected is the case.

So I am calling for a boycott of the BHF. The BHF is no longer a charity -- not in the truest sense of the word. It is an activist hate group that is trying to control your lives, either directly or by proxy organisations. Do not give them your money. Do not buy their goods in their shops. Do not support their hate of your lifestyle. Sure, you could write a letter to them, if you feel like completely wasting your time. No, the only thing we can do is not give them our money. The thing is, the BHF is an organisation that could do very good things for people, but instead it's taken the political activist route of controlling our lives. It says as much, right on their website.

I haven't checked any other job postings for ASH yet. Do I really want to know?

Do you?

Meanwhile, in other news, the beloved Dick Puddlecote is learning first-hand that government agencies can do whatever the fuck they like, because standards only apply to everyone else.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

There Is No Such Thing As Premature Death

Two questions I wish someone -- anyone -- would ask tobacco control advocates are:

  • What should I die of?
  • When should I die (i.e., at what age should we accept as having lived a full, complete life)?
These are, of course, unfair questions. They are unanswerable, particularly in a moral sense.  If you advocate for a particular acceptable age of death, then you are possibly saying that after that age, your life has no value.

Death comes in many forms, at any time.  Newborns sometimes die moments after birth.  Some people live to be over 100-years-old -- some of those people were... smokers.  I know, unbelievable.  So while the questions are unfair, they should nevertheless be posed.

Because there is no such thing as a premature death. It is, simply, the time of one's death.  You are not guaranteed any length of time here on this planet.  There is no guarantee that some crazed lunatic won't murder you while you sleep.  And if you do get murdered, as tragic as that is, it is still the time of your death.  It wasn't premature.  It may not even have been preventable, depending on the circumstances.  It may simply be fate.

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Submit a Tip

I can always your help in exposing the anti-smoker lunacy out there.  If you see something that you think should be blogged (no promises, though), then please use the comments to submit a tip to bring it to my attention.

Alternatively, you can e-mail me. Please put the word TIP in the subject line. If you wish for your tip to be anonymous or credited with a particular name or on-line username, then kindly let me know.

For the truly psychotic cases, you may wish to comment here at Dick Puddlecote's blog instead.