In the Grauniad today (whoops, yesterday), Damian 'The Beast' Green declared that we would never ban the Islamic veil because it would be un-British to do so.
Where has this man been? Banning random things with no real reason is now entirely British. The only way it would be un-British in today's world would be because it would look like we were copying the French and that would never do. Declaring war on countries that don't threaten us, demonising whole swathes of our own people for a bit of a laugh, adding layer upon layer of worthless people in pointless jobs just to give the proles the run-around, fine. But doing something the French have done? Unthinkable!
I don't think the veil should be banned. Wear what you like, dress as a banana with a cherry on the top if you want but you can't then object when people snigger because you look odd. And don't come to me for sympathy if you get sniggered at. I look odd all the time.
There is a case for insisting that people have uncovered faces in certain situations - banks spring to mind. And dentists would find their job somewhat difficult if you insist on having a sheet over your face the whole time. In the street, I really don't care whether I can see your face or not. Like most men, I'm not looking above chest height anyway (we all secretly yearn for bottle-end glasses and a dirty mac, you know). People could go around with a Dalek head on and I won't care at all.
Mark Wadsworth put up a spoof of this, and an anonymous commenter didn't get it. More on that later. MW's spoof changed it to 'banning smoking would be un-British' and you know, not so long ago, it would have been. Now, banning anything on a whim is the British way. Look at the comments section on any newspaper site. One incident is all it takes and the calls for 'Ban it!' are out in force. No matter what it is. If someone chokes on a pickled onion, the calls for banning all pickles will start at once.
As if to counterpoint Damian '666' Green's words, the same extrusion of the Grauniad also carries a story from the lovechild of the Dreadful Arnott, that organisation dedicated to the Annihilation of Smokers Horribly. This time they are bleating that people will take up smoking cigarettes because the eeevil tobacco companies are advertising little bits of paper with glue on one end.
Hint to ASH: at music concerts, they aren't all rolling tobacco in those bits of paper. Many are using a totally tobacco-free product instead. They'll be using the packs with the extra long papers in, too.
Tobacco giants 'target' music festivals by... sponsoring them. That's right, in order to advertise little bits of paper with glue on one end, they are handing over much larger bits of paper with Mrs. Queen's face on them. Paper that the music festival needs if it is to exist at all.
This weekend's Lovebox festival in east London's Victoria Park, headlined by Roxy Music, is co-sponsored by Imperial Tobacco's Rizla rolling paper, which is exempt from the ban on tobacco advertising.
It's exempt from the ban on tobacco advertising because... it's not tobacco. The same reason that toothpaste and chicken and cup-a-soup are exempt. It's not really that hard to grasp.
There are no tobacco adverts. As Smoking Hot points out, it's just paper. With glue on one end. We don't need the glue, you know. We can roll tobacco in any old bit of paper. It doesn't need to be posh paper, we're just going to burn it anyway. We can even roll tobacco in tobacco leaves and make a cigar.
Really, ASH are scraping the barrel here. Rolling papers won't even be excluded from display if they succeed in banning tobacco counters. Neither will filters, matches or lighters because they are not tobacco. You cannot ban the advertising of paper, ASH. I wonder what their stance is on the veil? They won't want a ban on that for sure. It's impossible to smoke with a comfort blanket over your mouth. ASH would be more likely to insist we all wear them. Mine might develop a little hole.
At last year's Latitude festival in Suffolk, only Marlboro cigarettes could be sold. The cigarettes were available in black-and-red kiosks that lit up at night and were sold by young, attractive staff wearing "Marlboro Red" T-shirts and sunglasses.
At this year's Latitude festival there have so far been two rapes. I would say that worrying about people in illuminated kiosks is a pretty low priority there no matter what they are selling. As for 'attractive staff', is there any sales business anywhere that would prefer to staff their kiosks with people who look like John Prescott? Be honest - if there was a stall selling dirt cheap computers and it was staffed by someone with a Brown Gorgon scowl, would you rush over?
At last year's Big Chill in Herefordshire, five large cigarette stands that were illuminated at night sold only brands produced by JTI, which include Camel, Benson and Hedges and Amber Leaf. The stands, which sold limited edition packs and cigarettes at a reduced price, were staffed by "promotion girls" dressed in white uniforms. Festival "packages" were also available, containing two packs of cigarettes in a box that came with a lighter and glow stick and could be worn around the neck. Cigarette "stub tidys" bearing the JTI and Gallaher tobacco company brands were given away, while customised camper vans sold rolling tobacco.
You'd think they were talking about heroin, wouldn't you?
Tobacco is legal and if you're at a festival, there is little to no enclosed public space so smoking it is legal too. All of this is scaremongering hype. It is the ranting of someone who thinks reality must conform to what they say it is - more on that later too.
As to all this 'only certain brands can be bought' well that is why the festival is getting sponsorship money. It is exactly the same as what is happening with the Olympics but that's all right because tobacco isn't involved there. In fact it's going to be banned within a hundred mile radius in case one of those super healthy athletes gets a molecule of smoke and drops dead on the spot. Great muscles, no immune system, you see? I prefer to be the other way round.
Finally, remember that po-faced commenter over at MW's place? Remember that remark a couple of paragraphs back about these people defining their own reality?
Here, quite possibly, is the reason for those people and the reason that the world seems to make no sense these days. The psychotherapist quoted calls them 'humanoids'.
I call them 'Righteous'.