Saturday, 10 July 2010

Tyranny of the majority

Bad news from Bavaria that a referendum has voted by a 61% to 39% margin to impose a complete smoking ban in bars and restaurants. Some may hail this as democracy in action, but I had always thought that a fundamental principle of democracy was respect for the rights of minorities. Voting may be a good system for choosing MPs and councillors, but should voters be allowed to impose their own lifestyle preferences on others?

If you’re fond of the pongy ale, but most of the customers in your local pub prefer lager, should they be allowed to vote that everyone should drink lager?

Or, given that a large majority of people are heterosexual, would they be entitled to vote to outlaw homosexuality?

The report also shows the fallacious “level playing field” argument being trotted out again. In reality this is more of a “dog in the manger” argument. Surely hospitality businesses are entitled to offer a range of services and facilities as they see fit, and stand or fall as to how popular those prove with the paying public. If businesses with smoking bans feel disadvantaged because those permitting smoking do better, doesn’t that demonstrate that there is little genuine public demand for the bans? The real test of public opinion is not so much how people cast their ballots, but how they vote with their feet.

34 comments:

  1. So 23% of Bavarians decide what
    happens in a bar which most of them never visit
    77% are compelled to do what some stay at home cranks and a tiny few
    green leninist freaks desire.
    And sooner or later ,some lob sided
    froth blowing ,social worker will
    yodel democracy

    At least Hitler got 42% in his
    1933 ballot.


    OK Hans Stick your Bierfest up
    the rear flap of your lederhosen


    The Smoking Fokker

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well first we get selective libertarianism and then we get selective definitions of democracy. Seems Mudgie, you are not such a liberal after all. Ban what you don't agree with and select what you do. Great.

    If you fancy deleting this - which of course as a democrat you won't - don't worry, I'll stick it on my uncensored blog and even let you have free reign there to defend your position.

    Sad to see you taking such a anti-democratic position. No point in setting yourself up as a libertarian if all you mean is "take my point of view, disagree and you are barred".

    And before you start, I can't be held responsible for you not knowing what "fallacious" means.

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  3. I haven't deleted any comments - apart from one duplicate you sent. And you will have noticed I have now turned comment moderation off again.

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  4. Well democracy, like anything else, is better late than never.

    As for your libertarian cred, well you can be the judge of that.

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  5. You really don't get it, do you? If you're a homosexual in my presence, or if you're drinking lager in my presence, that's no threat or annoyance to me. If you're smoking in my presence, that's not only annoying to me, it's a health threat to me. Under those circumstances, yes, I do have the right to vote you out of a public place.

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  6. But according to Tandleman, what he objects to is not the health risk but the smell. So is he entitled to vote smokers (or anyone else) out of any public place just because he doesn't like the smell?

    The degree to which environmental tobacco smoke is actually a health risk is debateable anyway. And, even if there is some small health risk, shouldn't people be entitled to accept that risk in some establishments - after all, people voluntarily engage in many legal leisure pursuits that involve a much greater and more certain health risk than ETS?

    And your argument seems to be that majorities are not entitled to exercise tyranny over minorities in some circumstances, but are in others - with you apparently being the judge.

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  7. If you're a homosexual in my presence, or if you're drinking lager in my presence, that's no threat or annoyance to me.

    Both of these can be deemed 'annoying' at any time. In Sharia law, neither would be tolerated. Both would be given a lashing.

    Equally, it's quite easy to discover a health threat somewhere. There's alcohol evaporating into the air from any alcoholic drink. Alcohol is a class A carcinogen. So there's a clear 'health threat' of exactly the same character as the passive ssmoking 'health threat' waiting there for any prohibitionist to use.

    As for homosexuals, they have a tendency to contract AIDS, which is a transmitable disease. Obviously some sort of health threat can be conjured up there too.

    There's a minuscule 'health threat' of some sort or other waiting to be discovered in absolutely. everything.

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  8. "selective definitions of democracy"

    The only one defining democracy on a selective basis is you, Tandleman. Let me explain.

    We live in a 'representative' democracy. As such, just because a majority of the country wish (or did do for a very long time) for the return of capital punishment, it doesn't necessarily follow that the state MUST adhere to those wishes.

    What you think you are describing as democracy is actually ochlocracy, colloquially described as 'tyranny of the majority' in the title, and also often known as 'mob rule'.

    You are concerned with the 'by the people' part of democracy, whilst ignoring entirely the part about 'for the people'. That means all of them, not just those who occupy the majority in any given dispute/debate.

    39% of people in Bavaria would like there to be a choice. In a democratic society, such a choice should be offered. Anything else is tyranny of the majority or mob rule.

    ie., not democracy.

    This is especially true when 100% of the populace are polled when only maybe 25% of them are negatively affected. There is an inherent bias in there which requires balancing ... in a truly democratic society.

    Without the representative bit in 'representative democracy', we would still have racism, sexism, homophobia, and marginalisation of the disabled protected by law.

    And that's not very civilised, now is it?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dick-

    "39% of people in Bavaria would like there to be a choice. In a democratic society, such a choice should be offered. Anything else is tyranny of the majority or mob rule.

    ie., not democracy."

    Exactly. Thank you for pointing out the obvious.

    If one does not like smoking, then don't go to places where smokers congregate. It's that simple. Otherwise, what we have is totalitarianism. That is the truth. So many people are blind to this obvious fact; however, they will soon wake up when they realize that 39% of the population votes to create a new coalition (assuming that we're speaking of a proportional democracy). Those that choose to vote away the right of assembly of the "minority" may soon find themselves in the same position when they realize that they have lost crucial allies (politically speaking). Payback can be a bitch, but that is a reality that has very real (unintended) consequences.

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  10. I don't like the health risk either, but it isn't what bothers me most and I understand perfectly the points that Dick and others make and agree a lot with them, but there are many things that a democracy doesn't allow people to do in the interests of others.

    Conflating the smoking ban with wider democracy is tricky and we can each catch the other out by example.

    To misquote jredheadgirl " If one does like smoking, then go to places where smoking is allowed. It's that simple."

    Now I'm out of this. There won't be an answer that all can agree on.

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  11. You smokers can whinge and whine all you want buy you're the ones standing out in the rain whilst I'm scooping in the pub.

    Look, it's time to move on. You got away with legally poisoning everyone else for years, now you have to do it at home or outside.

    The majority are happy, no-one really cares what you think, so any pathetic bleatings to the contrary are at best amusing.

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  12. The majority are happy, no-one really cares what you think

    Ah yes, someone else who believes in mob rule.

    And you do realise I'm not a smoker, don't you?

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  13. "The majority are happy"

    No. YOU are happy.

    If the majority were happy we wouldn't have seen a thirtyfold increase in pub closures and over 10% of the industry gone in 36 months.

    Prat.

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  14. Gazza Prescott, if smokers were in the majority and a law was passed banning all smoke-free restaurants/pubs and did not even allow smoke-free rooms or even non-smoking areas against the wishes of the property owners - would you just forget about it? If the answer is no, then you will understand why this issue won't go away. What do you mean by legally poisoning? Why should you be allowed to legally poison me with smelly carcinogenic alcohol while I am enjoying a bite to eat and an orange juice in a pub? Why can't you drinkers just take it outside? Is it really to much to ask? Why won't people like you understand that we don't want you drinking in pubs anymore? It stinks! If we banned drinking inside pubs I would visit them much more often.

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  15. Once again, some people confuse public and private. Libraries are woned by the public. Pubs, cafes and resuarants are not. Can one of you answer this question
    Should a group of smokers be prevented from buying a premises and starting a smoking club, staffed by its members?
    I've never had a reasonable answer form a pro banner. I think the most common fear is that every pub will become a smnokers club. Surely not. According to ASH UK. 80% of the population supports the ban and support is growing among smokers.

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  16. I hate the argument from smokers that 'we can go somewhere else if we don't like it' Why should I have my options reduced because I don't want to damage my health? I believe the total ban was a mistake or at least brought in far too quickly. The problem with the ban was although it makes sense from a health perspective it was too much of a social change to be brought in so quickly. The fact is it is here now and it is time to move on and come to terms with it.

    http://beerdemon.blogspot.com/

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  17. "If the majority were happy we wouldn't have seen a thirtyfold increase in pub closures and over 10% of the industry gone in 36 months"

    The smoking ban isn't the whole reason and you know it but, like most ashheads, are very selective in your memory and/or reasoning.

    Yes, a lot of backstreet boozers have gone, but a lot may have gone anyway in this recession and the industry was due a shake-out anyhow. Too many pubs for too few customers - even before this ban - can only mean one thing, but it's far easier to blame a smoking ban than admit to the real issues. Prat.


    "What do you mean by legally poisoning? Why should you be allowed to legally poison me with smelly carcinogenic alcohol while I am enjoying a bite to eat and an orange juice in a pub?"

    Pubs are for drinking alcohol, that's their raison d'etre. They are not there for smoking in. Therefore, I shall continue to drink in pubs, in accordance with their main function, and you lot can stand outside in the rain and get laughed at.

    To quote an old saying - "if you blow smoke on me, I'll piss on your head".

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  18. Pubs are for drinking alcohol, that's their raison d'etre.

    So I take it you're against them serving food, then? You know, all that cabbage and chip fat can really stink.

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  19. Yeah, but inhaling cabbage fumes and chip fat smells won't give you cancer - inhaling second-hand fag smoke might do.

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  20. Gazza Prescott, Despite the fact that smoking and drinking have been going hand in hand in pubs for ~500 years, we are constantly told that actually the primary purpose of pubs is drinking. This is my point, if drinkers were to become a minority then anti-drinkers could claim that drinking is secondary to eating food and consuming soft drinks. They could make up bogus and or conflated health risks. And they could constantly spoil the identity of drinkers by describing them as dirty and filthy. They could constantly point out that drinkers are a minority and that they should just accept the new order. They could make constant references to the human excretory system to illustrate their hatred of people who drink booze in places that they believe should be booze-free due to their numerical advantage. Why should they put up with boozing in pubs? I can think of at least one booze-free pub in the UK. Maybe in the future there will be more and more. Maybe in the future we will wonder why we ever let people drink in public places such as pubs. If one get rid of ~500 years of smoking in pubs, I don't really see why boozing can't be curtailed over time and then eliminated in public places.

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  21. "Despite the fact that smoking and drinking have been going hand in hand in pubs for ~500 years"

    Wasn't Bear Baiting considered a good thing a few years back? Just because something is done for a long time it doesn't mean it's forever so - and did anyone know about passive smoking and the danger of fags 500 years back? No.


    "we are constantly told that actually the primary purpose of pubs is drinking"

    Well, if it's not what is the point?


    "This is my point, if drinkers were to become a minority then anti-drinkers could claim that drinking is secondary to eating food and consuming soft drinks"

    Not a problem with me, if a pub wants to stop selling beer then good luck to them.


    "They could make up bogus and or conflated health risks"

    You're either sadly deluded or in the pay of the fags industry if you believe there's no health risks from smoking. FFS, this shit may have worked 50 years ago but we know the risks now - and I don't accept that going to a pub should entail risks of me inhaling carcinogenic substances.


    "And they could constantly spoil the identity of drinkers by describing them as dirty and filthy"

    Spilt beer is sticky. Spilt fags are dirty. Your point is...?


    "They could constantly point out that drinkers are a minority and that they should just accept the new order"

    Social drinking has been proven to be of health benefit in reducing stress and a moderate intake of alcohol is apparently better for you than none at all. So, what's the benefits of smoking then? None.


    "Why should they put up with boozing in pubs? I can think of at least one booze-free pub in the UK"

    I refer you back to the fact that pubs are, primarily, for drinking beer. Temperance bars used to be popular but now there is just the one (or maybe two?) left... good for them, and I've had a good pint of sarsparilla in there.


    "Maybe in the future we will wonder why we ever let people drink in public places such as pubs"

    it's already illegal to drink in many public places but not due to health risks from the beer, simply due to the British being unable to take their beer.

    "If one get rid of ~500 years of smoking in pubs, I don't really see why boozing can't be curtailed over time and then eliminated in public places"

    I'd say that boozing could be construed as drinking to excess and I'd agree that isn't an ideal scenario to promote. Sensible drinking, however, is and that's what the majority of pubs promote and why beer will always be served in them.

    It's hilarious how you (and other comedians like you) try to link drinking and smoking as if they are somehow intrinsically linked. Well, they are not, and your allegories fall as flat as Robinsons beer does.

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  22. Gazza Prescot, alcohol is classed as a human carcinogen and I really don't see why I should breath in booze fumes just so that I can have a pub lunch. I don't know that this is a significant health risk but why should I take any risk? Zero exposure to alcohol means zero risk. Why should I run any kind of cancer risk in pubs when people can just take it outside. I am not asking people not to drink in pubs, I am just asking them to take their drinks outside. Is it really too much to ask?

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  23. "alcohol is classed as a human carcinogen and I really don't see why I should breath in booze fumes just so that I can have a pub lunch"

    This is just hilarious!!!

    Is this really the best you can do? I'd give up now before you look really stupid.

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  24. Gazza,
    the risk lung cancer and passive smoking is somewhere between very small and non-existant
    Alcohol causes cancer in humans. Zero exposure to alcohol guarantees zero risk. I am just asking if drinkers can take their poison outside, so that i can enjoy a pub lunch at zero exposure. It's not to much to ask - all they have to do is step outside.

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  25. "the risk lung cancer and passive smoking is somewhere between very small and non-existant"

    Yeah right... not what the majority of studies have found... but you believe what you want, keep your head in the sand.


    "Alcohol causes cancer in humans. Zero exposure to alcohol guarantees zero risk"

    There's statistically a very much smaller risk of catching cancer from drinking alcohol than breathing fag smoke.


    "I am just asking if drinkers can take their poison outside, so that i can enjoy a pub lunch at zero exposure. It's not to much to ask - all they have to do is step outside"

    You really are some kind of comedian - albeit a very bad one, either that or you're a very good troll.

    Read this and learn - YOU CANNOT GET CANCER FROM BREATHING BEER FUMES. YOU CAN THROUGH BREATHING FAG SMOKE.

    Do you understand that? It's not difficult, really it isn't...

    Reading the crap people like you write just enforces the opinions of the majority who want you to stand outside that we're right and we don't want ignorant people like you breathing smoke over us.

    Keep it up, you're a great advert for the smoking ban.

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  26. DJ is at least being honest. "Why should I have my options reduced?" That is why he doesn't want smoking permitted in pubs. DJ, five thousand pubs have shut. Is it OK with you if some of them are reopened as smoking pubs? A little simple arithmetic tells you that your options will not have changed. How do you stand on restaurants. If curry is your favorite food, does that cause a problem when a curry house becomes an Italian or an Indian? Do you burst into the living room of the woman up the road in the middle of her Ann Summers party because you demand to attend any social function of your choosing? Your type fascinates me. You are like poor farmers - a lot of them about, but I've never met one.

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  27. Gazza, I know that there has been very little research done to evaluate the health risks of passive drinking - yet. But that does not mean to say that there is no risk. Zero exposure means zero risk. I really don't understand why I should have to put up with any kind of risk just to enjoy a pub lunch. Apart from the fact that I think drinkers are dirty and I don't like the smell of booze on their breath, seeping toxins from their skin, I just don't see why I should have to put up with any level of risk. When drinkers breath out I breath in these cancer causing chemicals. All I am asking is that they just take it outside. I know that drinking has long tradition in pubs but I don't see why I should have to put up with poison in any dose. To me it feels like they are urinating poison on me. Just take it outside! It's the only way to be sure! Is it really too much to ask?

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  28. Gazza, perhaps you can answer my question. What is the problem with smokers settinting up their own smoking clubs staffed by themselves. I appreciate you don't care for smoking or smokers themselves, and can understand why you have come to believe passive smoking to be of significant harm. However, what I don't understand - and I raised this specifically in an earlier post is the attitude of some - not all - anti smokers to private smoking clubs. The pubs which you attend would then benefit from far fewer smokers in the doorway and fewer smokers in the beer garden or seated at outside tables.

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  29. "What is the problem with smokers settinting up their own smoking clubs staffed by themselves?"

    I have absolutely no problem with this at all and, actually, I think it is wrong that private clubs cannot elect to be smoking clubs if they so wish.

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  30. Anon here. Thankyou Gazza. You are in a minority. Most anti smokers feel that an exemption for private clubs would be a "loop hole". That is why ASH UK persuaded the Labour Government not to give it. The problem is that a large number, perhaps the majority, of pubs would become smoking clubs, as they have done in Germany. I want the ban amended and realise that this would not be acceptable to a large proportion of the public. Given that many people would feel like yourself, that smoking rooms in existing pubs were a return to the past, one soulution might be for businesses to bid for some fixed number of smoking licenses. This would ensure that smoking and non smoking pubs are equally profitable.

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  31. I have absolutely no problem with this at all and, actually, I think it is wrong that private clubs cannot elect to be smoking clubs if they so wish.

    Good - while obviously not my ideal solution that would be a major concession and would make a lot of people feel much less resentful about the law.

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  32. Anonymous I don't have a problem with re-opening pubs as smoking pubs in principle but I am not sure how it could be made to be workable. The use of the analogy of restaurants is ridiculous, the pubs haven't changed their purpose just a particular aspect of their function. I would like to see a compromise but if it is a straight choice between smoke filled pubs and healthy smoke free environments it's an easy choice.

    http://beerdemon.blogspot.com/

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  33. Regardless of any question of reopening closed pubs as smoking clubs, couldn't private members' clubs currently in existence be allowed to permit indoor smoking if their members so decided? This, of course, was included in Labour's 2005 General Election manifesto.

    I may do a post about this later on.

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  34. Just for my non-smoking 2 cents worth. The reason that this is up for a "vote" is that allowing smoke in a public place has an effect of those of us not wanting to smoke or smell it. I know people that smoke or don't have a problem smoking think "don't come here if you don't want to smoke. Well, the fact is that smoking is a choice for the individual. By allowing smoking in a closed environment, my choice (not to mention health) is taken away. The fair and reasonable thing is to smoke at your home or away from public places so that all may have their rights left intact. I think you should have the right to smoke just not at my expense.

    ReplyDelete

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