I recall, but can't find, a comment about smoking control that went along the lines of "Of course we should force smokers to stop. If you saw a child walking in front of a bus, wouldn't you stop them?" (I think it was at Iain Dale's blog before he hung up his blogging hat but I'm not sure).
I was tempted to reply with "I'm a smoker. We throw children in front of buses" or with "No, because touching a child is paedophilia now. Can't help, sorry." In the end I didn't comment. I've banged my head on that wall enough.
The argument employed here takes a lifestyle choice (smoking) and compares it to a non-choice situation (road accident) but that's okay when it's used against smokers. It is not okay for smokers to use that argument. It's not a valid argument anyway.
So I don't use it.
In the last post, I put up a comment I'd left on a post by Jody MacIntyre - his post began thus:
Imagine if there were signs outside this station saying “NO DISABLED PEOPLE ALLOWED”. That would be denounced as outrageous, unfair, a policy of apartheid. But for anyone using a wheelchair, that is the reality of the situation.
He claims his inability to use tube trains is discriminatory. The fact of the matter, of course, is that tube trains are underground and installing disabled access on every station (there are a lot of them, and it's no use being able to get on a train at one station if you can't get off at another) would be astoundingly expensive. That doesn't matter. He must have access. Economically, the increased fares from occasional use of such facilities would not come close to paying for the facilities. Doesn't matter. It must be done. It would make Tube fares more expensive than taxis, but it must be done.
My reaction? Imagine if there were signs saying 'no smokers'. You don't need to imagine that. It's real. The no smoking is fast becoming no smokers. Jody claims he is discriminated against because hundred-year-old stations weren't built with him in mind. I claim I am discriminated against by people living in the here and now. By the same ones who demand equality, oddly enough.
Because Jody just happens to have a disability, this comes forward as his defence.
Hmmm. While not being able to comment upon his integrity, wisdom, or politics I have to say your argument is moronic in the extreme. He did not choose to have cerebral palsy. You have chosen to smoke.
Smoking is a personal choice that gives enjoyment to smokers . Being born with cerebral palsy isn't. It's a cruel fate that limits people's life choices.
To compare the two is ridiculous.
There is some inkling here that I attacked this guy because he's disabled. His disability is not part of my argument. His demand for 'equality' is my argument. He claims that his inability to easily access the Tube is discrimination. I contend that he has no idea what that word means.
I'm not exactly a perfect specimen, as long-time readers will know. I appreciate those buses that dip down to make it easier to get on and off, and the raised kerbs at bus stops to accommodate the buses that don't. Here, the kerbs at crossing points are lowered to road level. All done in the name of disability, to help out those who don't find it easy to get up and down steps and thanks for that.
Yes, smoking is my choice. No, I don't believe the addiction to nicotine story because if it were simple nicotine addiction, the patches and gum would work. Also, there would be people addicted to those patches and gum. I've never met one.
Disability is not a choice, that's true. However, 'disability' covers a wide range of things. One of my friends is registered disabled because of his back. Some days he's okay, others he's not. Some days he can walk perfectly well, other days he totters along with two walking sticks and has to stop frequently. He works, when work is available, as a storeman on building sites.
Another is going to lose fingers due to a hereditary condition that causes his fingers to curl in and stay there. They've been surgically straightened repeatedly but they curl in again over time. He used to work, despite this, but can't now.
Jody states that he walked up the stairs to the roof of Millbank. So while he is disabled he is not completely incapacitated.
So, is there any preferential treatment? Eckie claims it's all a sham. Yet the visible evidence is all around me in the buses, raised bus stops and lowered kerbs at crossings. Ramps into every building. Some years ago, a local disco was closed down, long before the smoking ban, because it was upstairs. I never went there and wasn't interested. Can't dance. It was closed because it could not provide disabled access.
There is - or was until the smoking ban closed it - a street-level nightclub just up the road from there. So if you want a disco with disabled access, there's one along the street. Not good enough. Why not?
Jody starts his post with 'Imagine there were signs saying 'no disabled''. I don't have to imagine it. Is the comparison then so wrong? He is claiming that he is discriminated against when he is not. He can demand a venue be closed down because he can't get to that one, even though there are others he can get to.
He can demand access ramps and lifts. And get them. Discriminated against?
Eckie - you're wrong about the interviews too. If there is even a whiff of a suggestion that anyone was turned down for a job because of disability, skin colour, gender, religion, etc, then there will be legal action.
Unless they smoke.
Yes, I can pretend not to smoke at interviews but since 'no smokers' is the rule, if it then came to light that I did smoke, I'd be fired on the spot. Even if I never smoked at work.
So far, yes, I can and do use public transport, even long distance trains, because I am not a gibbering wreck after a day or so without a smoke. It's a choice. For now. But look at where it's going.
Job ads can legitimately put 'no smokers' in the text. Not 'no smoking'. No smokers. Grampian health authority want to sack staff who smoke, even if they never smoke at work, and introduce disciplinary action for anyone found to have tobacco on them - not smoking it, just having it. Hotels can refuse to accommodate smokers even if they aren't smoking at the time. People are being thrown out of their rented homes for being smokers because there are enough idiots who believe that smoke can pass through solid walls using paranormal spooky-smoke powers. Smokers are claimed to be infused with deadly particles that will kill any who come in contact with them.
This is Third Hand Smoke. We are now pariahs even when we're not smoking. You cannot, so far, tell who we are unless we're actually smoking but that's going to change. We will be made identifiable. Third hand smoke will be the excuse. Then we will be barred from public transport too.
I do not equate Jody's disability with smoking. That would be ridiculous. My issue is with his claim that he is discriminated against. There are no signs saying 'no disabled'. If someone put one up they'd be prosecuted. The Tube is underground, in some parts a long way under, and putting in easy disabled access would be no small matter. Some of those stations have lifts, as I recall, but I have not extensively explored London and haven't been there for years so I don't know how many have lifts.
The stations were designed a long time ago. I don't for a moment believe that the designers had a meeting where they decided their trains would be unsullied by the sight of the less-than-perfect. They didn't even ban smoking back then. Older buildings have had disabled access retrofitted and now, places open to the public that don't have disabled access can be closed down. Putting in access to places far underground is asking too much. The lack of access is not discrimination, but practicality. The railway, and the government, simply can't afford to do it.
He calls this 'discrimination' and demands 'equality'.
I contend that discrimination means being refused a home or a job, or being excluded from public life, because you belong to a 'group' that is disapproved of. You cannot do that on the grounds of disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender, colour, jewellery, hairstyle, clothing preference, anything. You can only do it to smokers.
My obsession is not with smoking, but with the treatment of smokers. Oh, I could just stop smoking and it would all go away but then they'll come for the drink. And the salt. And the fat. And the doughnuts. Discrimination against the overweight is building now. I'm not overweight so why would I care? I care because it's not going to stop there.
It has to stop here.
I've heard all the arguments - 'if you stop smoking, you'll be healthier and you won't be discriminated against any more'. True. Almost. I wouldn't be discriminated against for being a smoker, but I like whisky and pies and pork scratchings and those are all going to disappear too, if they win this one.
So when I hear claims like Jody's, that his physical inability to access something is 'discrimination', I see red. I am not physically capable of getting a job as a steeplejack, I have never been and will never be A-1 for active service (I'm somewhere down among the 'J' mark there) unless they run short of sandbags. I accept that. I do not call it 'discrimination' because it's not. It's practical reality. Somethings I cannot do. Other things I can. So I concentrate on what I can do.
If there were no war on smokers, I'd never even mention it. If there were no daily claims based on, not just bad science, but outright lies, you wouldn't even know I smoked. There'd be no need to mention it. There are obsessives in this game but it's not the smokers. All we want is to be left alone. We'd quite like to be allowed to set up a pub or two, well away from the delicate noses of the antismokers, but we can't. It would be nice to have smoking shelters worthy of the name, but that's not going to happen either. There is no reasoning behind these things in terms of health or even inconvenience to non-smokers. It's pure spite. Their design and implementation is there purely to spite smokers.
Now, who wants to argue that the Tube stations were designed to spite Jody?