Monday, 4 June 2012

Hate week is here

Martyn Cornell is a well-respected beer writer, who has made plenty of knowledgeable, stimulating posts on his Zythophile blog, and also written Amber Gold and Black, the definitive history of British beer styles.

But, sadly, he has now come out with this piece of bigoted, spittle-flecked nonsense, beginning with the phrase “I hate smokers”. And he has the cheek to complain about people quoting Pastor Niemoller against him! Another person to cross off my Christmas card list. As far as I’m concerned, any self-proclaimed “beer lover” who supports the smoking ban doesn’t really understand pubs.


  1. Indeed, the sad thing is every single one of his arguments is easily proved wrong.

    His pub closure figures are just wrong. He ignores the closures that ramped up in Scotland post-ban (and well before the recession) and the closure in Ireland (when they were still the 'Celtic Tiger'). As well as those in New York, Bavaria, Nevada, Geneva and Hawaii (with some of these places now relaxing their bans as a result - VGIF had an excellent and in-depth analysis into pub closures - well worth checking out).

    His "slippery slope" argument is utterly wrong. We KNOW Tobacco Control is working with alcohol control (because THEY HAVE ADVERTISED THE FACT!) and we have literally scores of quotes from anti-alcohol campaigners comparing tobacco to alcohol and tobacco measures to alcohol measures (just see VGIF or Dick Puddlecote's place for literally dozens of sourced examples). For God's sake, they've just bought in minimum pricing and in New York they're even working on soft drinks (after having banned trans fats a while ago). Good Lord, how fantastic it must be to be so blinkered!

    Then of course, he shoots himself in the foot by moaning about whingeing smokers whilst then moaning about "the smell" etc. I have yet to meet a smoker who wanted ALL pubs to be smoking. They just want some (and by the owner's choice, at that, not theirs). But no, this guy wants EVERYWHERE to be non-smoking, regardless of other patrons and regardless of the owner who is risking his money by running the place, because that's how HE likes it. Then he whines about selfishness!?


    These people are frankly so stupid it amazes me that they can balance on their hind legs without falling over.

  2. Well said, Mr A, but hopefully you will post that on there too.

    Unlike here, he has comment moderation on, though.

  3. Blue'n'Bramble4 June 2012 at 16:32

    He's wrong about prohibition in America as well. There were many local and statewide ordnances banning the sale or consumption of tobacco at the time. They went hand in hand with the tide of alcohol prohibition, in fact many of the players worked together in both causes.

  4. I won't comment over there. I've long since given up on any attempt at discussion with those people.

    It won't be long before he's reading articles that start out 'I hate drinkers' and telling him he's a whiner because he wants to be able to drink in a public venue.

    It's on the way.

  5. Blue'n'bramble is partly correct. Anti-drinkers and anti-smokers did work together (Carrie Nation and Lucy Page Gaston for example), but the major assault on tobacco was planned to start once Prohibition had been achieved.

    The reason it didn't happen was precisely because alcohol prohibition was defeated. The war cry "Prohibition is won, now for tobacco" was halted in its tracks once the precedent (and the slippery slope) was halted.

    It's happening the other way around now. It's already started in Australia.

    Cigs war won: Now cancer campaigners set their sights on beer

    HEALTH activists who believe even one alcoholic drink can cause cancer are lobbying MPs in Canberra today for limits on how much we consume and how much we pay for it.

    If they're successful in branding alcohol a carcinogen it could lead to tough restrictions similar to those applied to tobacco, including warnings on labels and laws requiring plain packaging.

    The Cancer Council of Australia argues even one drink is dangerous, a view similar to its position that even one cigarette can injure health.

    “There is no evidence that there is a safe threshold of alcohol consumption for avoiding cancer, or that cancer risk varies between the type of alcohol beverage consumed,"

    The slippery slope is not only historically provable, but is happening again right now. If he chooses to ignore it, more fool him.

  6. 12 Jul 2011

    "There is increasing evidence that links alcohol consumption to cancer. The WHO International Agency of Research on Cancer has stated, based on evidence, that alcohol is carcinogenic in both animals and humans.

    Several evaluations of this agency as well the joint 2007 report of the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research warned of the link between alcohol and cancers in the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon-rectum and breast cancers.

    Based on the evidence, "there is no level of alcohol consumption for which cancer risk is null."

    "On the whole, alcohol is considered an avoidable risk factor for cancer incidence and, more generally, for the global burden of disease,.."

    Worse still,unlike tobacco, alcohol is an intoxicant.


  7. It'll be trickier to denormalise alcohol, seeing that drinkers are a vast majority. Still, why should drinkers have any reason to distrust the scientific consensus? After all, these people will insist they have undeniable evidence. Most smokers appear to have accepted everything thrown at them, including the SHS bilge. Government 'must do what's best for public health'. Why should drinkers have special dispensation? Smokers haven't (to say the least).It's soooo predictable. And it's not as though anyone could deny that drinkers pose a real potential threat to innocent third parties, let alone themselves.

  8. Love it. Comedy gold, as always.

  9. Quite a bit of information (just scraping the surface) concerning anti-tobacco early last century in America and the “slippery slope” both for tobacco and now other products, with links, was posted (4 longish comments) on the Zythophile site highlighting that Martyn is missing much information in the contorted view he presents in his thread. The polite comments were posted early evening last night awaiting moderation. So far they still haven’t made an appearance. I doubt that they will. Martyn sounds like a fully-fledged bigot, his thread littered with baseless, derogatory generalizations and stereotyping. When confronted with contrary facts, the bigot first turns a whiter shade of pale, has a rage attack, and is then confronted with two options. Either they modify their view or they disregard the facts. Given that bigots aren’t actually that bright and are cowards, they usually choose the latter, “easy” option. Since it’s Martyn’s blog, not only does he disregard the facts, he doesn’t want them appearing in his comments section at all – it’s all too fearful.

    If he posts the comments, I’m quite happy to stand corrected.

  10. Sorry 'mudge, I tried to read the comments, but was losing the will to live...

  11. When you count up the number of smokers in other European countries, or more importantly the proportion of the adult population that smoke you can see why other EU states have amended smoking bans. There are more smokers there. On the basis that if it were possible to amend the smoking ban in the UK, smokers would have rallied and done it by now, the fact that they haven’t indicates they won’t. In the UK it is here to stay. Whilst its effect is debatable, if it has damaged the pub trade that damage will have already been done by now.

    Martyn may very well hate smokers. Hate is a strong word. I prefer to dislike smelly people, not hate them. Looking at the Sunday morning aftermath of all those weekend binge drinkers, there is more reason to hate drinkers and ask that every pub in the land closes.

  12. Good evidence provided by comenters and Tyson replies with a one liner that could have come from a spammer without backup. Typical lost for words denialism.

  13. Thank you, everybody, for proving every point I made about militant smokers. I was particularly thrilled to uncover the conspiracy theory nutters who insist that the smoking ban is a plot by eugenicist Nazis. Marvellous.

    What I said I hated - words which everyone, as I knew they would, has chosen to twist - was not smoking, but the continual whingeing, the claims of Nazi-style oppression, the airs of persecution and paranoia, and the vicious attacks on anyone who disagrees with them that militant smokers constantly indulge in.

    I'm glad of the notice above the comment box about ad hominem attacks not being allowed in comments, because that'll stop comments getting through like: "Martyn sounds like a fully-fledged bigot, his thread littered with baseless, derogatory generalizations and stereotyping."

    Really? Quoting evidence from the comments thread of this blog and others is baseless generalising?

    "The war cry "Prohibition is won, now for tobacco" was halted in its tracks once the precedent (and the slippery slope) was halted."

    Um - Dick? Prohibition was in place for 13 years in the US. Plenty of time, I'd have though, to see a slippery slope effect in action.

    Sad, really. You tell people: "You are now going to respond with insults, logical fallacies and irrelevant arguments," and they go right on in and do just that. Bring me a barrel full of fish and a shotgun, I need something more challenging.

  14. Martyn,
    So do you think we should ban shift work in pubs? Make pubs close during the weekends and evenings?

    Or is it fair enough that bar staff get heart disease and die just so people that can drink in pubs in the evenings and weekends, when people could simply drink at home?

    Clearly the actions of people exercising their freedom to drink in pubs at these times affects other peoples health. And as I don't see millions of drinkers giving up these freedoms, is there not a case to use the law to protect bar staff from the actions of others? Intorduce a ban as soon as possible?


  15. Anonymous: as someone who has had to work 4 or 5pm to 10 or 11pm shifts for much of the past 25 years on national newspapers, I'd be very happy if shiftwork were outlawed.

    While I'm up, a few further points on the comments here: apparently, for complaining about bigoted, spittle-flecked nonsense, I am myself guilty of bigoted, spittle-flecked nonsense, an ironic circularity. And now I am now "off [the PC] Christmas card list”. Strange, I don’t remember a festive greeting from PC ever gracing my mantlepiece – perhaps he sent it under his real name, and I didn’t recognise it.

    Mr A, you don't actually understand what a slippery slope argument means. What you need to prove for a slippery slope argument to be successful is that if A happens, B will inevitably happen as well. Providing evidence that people who want A to happen also want B to happen is NOT evidence of a slippery slope. To try to claim that minimum pricing of alcohol and a ban on soft drinks in New York are the result of a ban on smoking is nonsense. You need to prove that stopping A would have stopped B, or that B wouldn't have happened without A. I'm not "blinkered" - rather, I seem to have a distinctly better grasp of logic and the necessities of evidence of cause and effect than you do.

    My pub closure figures are "just wrong" - where, exactly? Did you post a fully referenced rebuttal at my blog?

    "this guy wants EVERYWHERE to be non-smoking, regardless of other patrons and regardless of the owner who is risking his money by running the place, because that's how HE likes it."

    Where did I say that? Nowhere.

    OHH - "it’s Martyn’s blog, not only does he disregard the facts, he doesn’t want them appearing in his comments section at all – it’s all too fearful."

    As far as I am aware, every comment sent to my blog has been published. Even the ad hominem ones. And unlike you all here, I use my real name - so who's the coward, hiding behind initials to hurl the regular militant smoker accusation, that someone who expresses views contrary to those of the militant smoker is automatically a "bigot". Dissing those you disagree with doesn't win you the argument. But as I said right at the start, you just don't seem capable of stopping yourselves.

  16. " I'd be very happy if shiftwork were outlawed."
    So are you prepared to state on your blog that you think pubs should only open during normal weekday office hours and condem those that put staff at risk of heart disease and death by drinking in pubs at the evenings and weekends?


  17. I'll send you a xmas card Martyn to make up for the one Mudge won't send, just for winding up the smoking militia.

  18. "What you need to prove for a slippery slope argument to be successful is that if A happens, B will inevitably happen as well."

    That's a narrow, pedantic definition of the phrase in the context of it being a logical fallacy, but surely that falls down in any case where human volition is involved. Persecuting the Jews didn't inevitably mean that the Nazis would persecute the Protestant churches - they chose to do so.

    But the phrase is widely and more generally used to mean something that sets a precedent for a principle to be extended, or encourages people to do so.

    And I hope you're not trying to claim there are no parallels whatsoever between the campaigns against tobacco and alcohol.

    "Where did I say that? Nowhere."

    You seem to be arguing that every single pub should be wholly non-smoking on the grounds that you or some other antismoker may happen to wander into it one day.

    Have I got that wrong?

    And would you support, say, allowing smokers to set up private clubs where they and their tolerant friends could socialise and which no antismoker would ever need to enter?

  19. In a rational response to one of my comments Martyn did say that he thinks that no establishments should be allowed to be licensed for smoking, which is pretty much the same as saying it should be banned everywhere regardless of patrons and owners views. He provided the "for the sake of the bar staff" stock reason that one might expect from someone who has swallowed the tobacco control manual whole.
    I don't really have anything against the man, and I respect a good rant but his confrontational approach together with his incomplete and deeply biased understanding of his subject matter have put me off wanting to read anything else that he has written. I could be being unfair because I suspect that one problem here was that Martyn was geared up for a row and was unprepared for more rational debate. I do applaud him for keeping going for a week even if he did have to resort to scientifically ridiculous nonsense such as smoking ban /heart attack miracles at times. Again, in fairness, some of the arguments raised against him were also less than robust and it all became a bit aggressive at times.
    One thing that I do object to on a personal level is the tendency for Martyn and others to claim to speak for the non-smoking majority. I do not smoke, am not employed in any related industry but I actively support the right of others to enjoy alcohol and tobacco in appropriate circumstances without harassment from the public health industry. I do think that people like Martyn should be able to enjoy a pint in smoke free air but cannot see why they insist on enforcing their preference on everyone else. I believe that I am more representative of the non-smoking majority than Martyn is.

  20. Bless you, Ivan, for your coherent comments, particularly if you’re a nonsmoker.

    Concerning the “slippery slope”. It seems that Martyn has gone to a Formal Logic dictionary and is strictly applying the principle. There is a common parlance usage which in the early days would probably have had inverted commas surrounding it. But it’s now so common that it’s used without the commas.

    The common usage typically refers to, for example in the tobacco case, that if a measure is taken against tobacco, then what’s to say that other measures, probably more draconian, will also be taken? In other words, where will it stop? Will it produce a slide of measures (i.e., slippery slope)? And that’s within the single issue of tobacco. Then there’s the issue of the slippery slope crossing to other issues on the basis of precedent and similarity.

    If you haven’t checked for a while, there are a few further questions that have been posed on Martyn’s blog.

  21. Couldn't agree more, Ivan, especially your last paragraph.

  22. I’m rather curious as to why Martin actually feels he has any right to complain about “whingeing” smokers. Whether he likes it or not, or whether he understands it or not, many, many smokers are simply angry at the persecution which they are on the receiving end of at the moment, and inevitably some of them are saying so. Is that really such a bad thing, just because Martin doesn’t share their strong feelings? At precisely what point in time, and by whom, was The Great Martin appointed Supreme Arbiter on Permissable Anger? Should we all be pretending that we are absolutely tickety-boo with the smoking ban just because he is? Would that make us un-angry all of a sudden? Of course not! In fact, paradoxically, it’s precisely because smokers’ have been unrelentingly presented with a “put up or shut up” approach from everyone from article-writers like himself right up to the top levels of Government that they are so angry. If Martin really didn’t want to hear any more from “whingeing” smokers, he’d try not to add further fuel to the fire by offering them more of what’s made them so frustrated and resentful in the first place!

    No doubt Martin will regard his article as justified because we live in a (relatively) free country and we are all entitled to make our views known to others - at least for now. In which case, I wonder why he has chosen to exercise his right to voice an opinion in an article which, effectively, seeks to persuade smokers not to voice theirs.

  23. Anon

    Yes, we are all denialist Nazis. Heil Hitler!

  24. I agree, Ivan D, that he doesn't seem equipped for debate. Perhaps that indicates his opinion of us, not believing we have anything to say and just here to be baited and laughed at. Precisely why I called his diatribe a "student rag week" piece.

    You don't need 'robust' questioning with him. Simple ones are enough.

  25. "Um - Dick? Prohibition was in place for 13 years in the US. Plenty of time, I'd have though, to see a slippery slope effect in action."

    Oh good grief. As a beer blogger you should, really, have the first clue about how alcohol prohibition in the US happened. It started with a small movement in the 1850s and reached its goal in 1919.

    Funny enough, ASH was formed in 1971 and is only now talking about the prohibition "end game" for tobacco.

    13 years "plenty of time"? Yeah, OK.


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