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This week’s posts have explored the discrimination facing the obese and smokers.

However, how is it that health ‘experts’ don’t target violence or sexually-transmitted disease? Why are they not warning our youth about the dangers of illicit drugs?

Because some things — smoking, food and alcohol — are more worthy targets for secular pietists and nudgers than others.

In ‘AP, NBC Wonder: Time to Shame Fat People and Let Smokers Die?’ Breitbart’s John Nolte explains the thinking of the Left, who start today’s prohibition and persecution movements (emphases mine below):

Emboldened by electoral victories and a media that has become one with the Democratic Party, the Left is moving aggressively to socially re-engineer America; and the overweight are now in the crosshairs.  Though CNN and NBC have been more subtle about The Next Great Fascist Crusade, the idea is getting the nudge over there, as well.

The thing to keep in mind is that the media’s latest liberty-crushing march has absolutely nothing to do with their stated concerns over public health and the effect certain habits have on the cost of health care and the government treasury.

That’s all a big fat lie; a fig-leaf to couch outright oppression as do-goodery.

First off, nothing else that explodes the cost of anything ever bothers the Left. If the Left was truly concerned with the cost of health care, they never would’ve pushed ObamaCare. If the Left was truly concerned with the deficit, they would’ve voted Obama out of office in a landslide.

No, if you’ll notice, the only time the media and Left wring their hands over expense and cost is when that hand-wringing can be manipulated into an excuse to control other people’s lives.

Moreover, look at the kinds of unhealthy behavior the Left always targets. If you’ll notice, it’s always behavior they’re personally uncomfortable with. You see, they see themselves as Nietzsche Supermen; godless gods superior to the rest of us who simply can’t stand the sight of some Red State chub exiting a McDonald’s puffing on a Marlboro Red. So under the guise of fiscal conservatism and motherly concern, they push for extermination through social stigma.

The Left would have us believe, though, that the habits they engage in have no deleteriorous effect whatsoever. Alcohol, for example, and the ongoing celebration and normalization of loveless sex — not to mention, the slow but inexorable push to legalize and glamorize drug use

Yes, over-sexualisation and drug use are huge problems, especially for our youth but, as Nolte says, you rarely hear about them.

More on drugs next week.

The secular pietists at Tobacco Control throughout the world make much of the ‘cost’ of smoking.

They should be writing more about thanking smokers for the major contribution they make to Western governments in tax.

Tobacco tax and other levies comprise between 75% and 80% of the cost of a pack of 20 or pouch of tobacco, depending on the country.

Therefore, when ASH in the UK write:

Estimates for the total amount spent on tobacco in the UK in 2011 range from £15.3 billion to £18.3 billion.

they do not mention that, assuming tax at 75%, the amount going to the Treasury is between £11.47bn and £13.72bn per annum.

The amount of that money treating tobacco-related diseases is £4.1bn.

That means the rest is used to help other Britons, whether for the NHS, roads, schools or other area which generally improves life for all of us.

Bucko, who has his own site but also writes for Orphans of Liberty, examined the myth of the ‘cost of smoking’ and ‘early death’ the other day.

Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

It is the job role that creates the economic output, not the person doing the job. Sure, one person may be slightly better than another and might achieve better results, pushing the output up a little, but over time, many different people will come and go in the role but the role continues ...

Employers have a budget for training and other investment in employees. Every time someone leaves a role and is replaced by someone else, a bit of this budget is spent. Every time someone receives a promotion or transfer, some of this budget is spent. An employee dying is no different to an employee taking a job with another company, financially speaking.

Also, if a person has been with a company for many years and has been heavily invested in, that person is more likely to be retiring in their fifties than they are to carry on working until state pension age. The more an employer invests in an employee, the more likely that person is to be in a situation where they can afford to retire younger.

The tobacco control industry does not seem to consider early retirement to be a drain on the economy that you can quantify financially, but early death, they do.

If you work, produce and pay your taxes all your life then drop dead at fifty nine from heart disease, you’ve contributed to the system all your life yet taken nothing out. As a smoker you’ve actually contributed a lot more than most.

If you work, produce and pay your taxes but live to the ripe old age of a hundred, there’s likely to become a time when you stop contributing and start taking some back. This could just be taking retirement and receiving your state pension. It could go as far as spending a couple of decades in a nursing home under the care of the NHS. A very expensive proposition ...

The tobacco control industry do not tell us what an early death actually is … we are just told that ‘early death’ costs non smokers over four billion quid.

To the tobacco control industry we are cash cows. We have a duty to live as long as possible and to keep producing. Once our production stops we become a cost to society.

We are not cash cows. We have no duty to live to an old age. We are human beings. When we die it has an affect on the people we have touched in our lives. That’s the only cost.

The economy does not notice.

It will be interesting to see how early or late Tobacco Control spokespeople die and of what. But, then, it doesn’t really matter. At least they didn’t smoke. So, that’s okay.

Frank Davis is one of my favourite bloggers and receives equally insightful comments from his readers.

In his recent post, ‘No Right’, he explores healthism, advice and law in regulating what is still legal. An excerpt follows, emphases in bold mine:

For the most part, I think that nobody has a right to anything. And that includes me. And so I tend to think that people have no rights. They have no right to life, liberty, happiness, wealth, power, fame, or cooing girlfriends, or anything else. If they really want any of those things, they should go and get them, and not expect them all to be handed to them on a plate as if they had some right to them.

And so my objection to authoritarian healthists is that they have no right to try to force me to live in what they think is a healthy manner, and they have no right to ban people from smoking or drinking in pubs or restaurants. Who gave them the right to do that? Nobody did. So they have no right to impose their beliefs on everyone else.

And I don’t agree that “supporters of smokers’ rights … object to limitations on the freedom to smoke whenever and wherever they please.” Because I don’t want to smoke whenever and wherever I please. All my life there have been times (e.g. funerals) and places (e.g. churches) where I have observed restrictions on smoking. What I object to is having almost nowhere I can smoke, nowhere that I can sit down with a beer or a coffee and a cigarette. I don’t mind if some places are non-smoking. I do mind if there is no provision whatsoever made for smokers.

And authoritarian healthism is not what “gets used when referring to the advice that we should exercise more or give up our favorite foods simply because they contain excessive amounts of sugar, fat, and salt.” I don’t mind if people offer me advice. Because I don’t have to take their advice. And I never take the advice of healthists anyway. I never have. What I do mind is when people use the force of law to try to make me heed their advice. I think they have no right to do that. And I think that it’s an abuse of the law to use it to try to change people’s behaviour. I think the law should be about compensating injuries of one sort or other, not enforcing personal preferences or convictions.

The tyranny of state health interventions

One of the greatest travesties in health intervention has been Michelle Obama’s ongoing healthy eating initiative for America’s youth, which I explored last year at this time.

Not only are secondary students starving because of the small portions of protein, but students who do not fit the physical profile of a pop star suffer additional harm from their classmates. One of Frank’s readers, smokervoter, had this observation:

Healthism indirectly caused that young girl in Florida to leap off a tower. Her classmates sneered at her for being overweight and they were egged on in part by Michelle Obama’s narcissistic childhood obesity campaign. They’ll deny it till the cows come home, but when the president’s wife calls you a fatty and a drain on the healthcare system it certainly doesn’t help things.

Meanwhile, most Americans know that Mrs Obama eats whatever she likes wherever she goes. She also loves French fries, as I noted in my aforementioned post. It is interesting that she can eat with impunity — and questionable manners — at a time when many families depend on a hearty school lunch for their children, one which American state school children are not receiving.

This is Mrs Obama in action at the Inauguration lunch in January 2012. Let nothing come between the First Lady and her food:

Health provision and one’s twilight years

A number of Frank’s readers rightly considered themselves sovereign over their own bodies. Yet, they wondered what measures the state would take to usurp that sovereignty.

Obamacare looks increasingly like a tax on your body — perhaps a tax on life itself.

What is God-given now seems government-owned and operated.

And it gets worse as one grows older. One of my readers, Lleweton, wrote about his recent experience at the GP’s surgery (NHS):

At a rapid-fire health interrogation recently (it was officially a routine check-up) I was questioned as to how far I walk and how often, how often and how far I cycle, and how much housework I do each week. I’ve quite severe arthritis but that doesn’t seem to have been noticed. And it does limit how far and how often I walk. All these questions were on a screen, waiting for the ‘statistics’. I was certainly informed, after inquiring about it, that this quiz had been instigated by the Government. Had I any goals? Look out, I thought this Government has ways of making me lose weight, stop smoking. That’s what they want me to talk about. I won’t take their patronising, nudgeful bait.

But why should the Government have my ‘statistics’ without my conscious consent? I was barely given time to answer as the questions landed on my startled mind. Obviously the ‘stats’ needed figures. ‘Sometimes it’s this and sometimes it’s that. Sometimes it’s not at all, depending how I am (I am 78).’ No box for that. ‘How many units?’ ‘That’s too many’. And so on. ‘I’ve got you down as a smoker’. Not since last December. On and off before that. Mainly off since I was in my early 60s. Clearly no box for that on the health centre screen. Oh and how about my waterworks? ‘Well I had a radical prostatectomy (yes cancer) many years ago. It’s in my notes.’

If I’d been depressed, recently bereaved, suffering from a terminal disease, lonely, broke and without hope (I don’t think my interrogator would have registered any of that, so fast did the questions have to come, according to the tyranny of the screen) I would have gone home, lit a cigarette and opened a bottle of whisky. And I would not have cared whether I lived or died. Actually all those actions might well have cheered me up. How dare I be happy when I sin against the State? These fanatics are basically anti-life. But life springs back, again and again, and always will. When I think of all the tyrannies in history under which people have laboured, suffered and prevailed, I acknowledge that my dying generation has no claim to be exempt.

Some say, ‘Well, as the NHS is free, they can ask what they like.’ However, Llew, like millions of other Britons, has paid into the system for many years. ‘Free’ means that we get our care at no extra charge; however, it is tax which enables it to function in the first place. And it is the British public which pay those taxes, so we pay the salaries of the NHS and the Department of Health.

We pay for a health service, not totalitarian control over the life and free agency that God gave us.

Your money and healthism

I call healthism secular pietism, because it is a religion, having replaced Christianity over the past two decades.

Still, whatever we call it, we are all paying for public or private healthcare, sometimes both. Along with this comes preventive medicine.

Preventive medicine is an industry in and of itself. How many people actually need to go for an annual checkup? Relatively few. Healthcare companies and providers see the money to be made with mandatory tests, increased prescriptions and behavioural modification.

This applies equally to the NHS. The last Labour government could see the money rolling in from smoking cessation, so public money financed a payment of £45 to doctors, pharmacists and — get this — community groups for every person they signed up for smoking cessation programmes.

One person took advantage of the scheme and ended up in prison:

Harry Singer, 54, took advantage of the Government’s smoking cessation programme which pays doctors, pharmacists and community groups £45 for every patient they convince to give up for four weeks.

Stop Smoking Counsellor Singer received £89,505 from the NHS for signing people up to programmes to kick the habit. But many of the ‘registrants’ details were taken from other surveys or were friends who either did not smoke at all or had no intention of giving up.

Jailing Singer for 18-months, judge John Hillen said the antismoking scheme was “amateurish” and “cavalier” and blamed the Government’s target-driven culture.

“To pay lay people, albeit briefly trained, as stop smoking counsellors for recruiting and spending a few sessions with smokers is an astonishing way to spend public money,” said the judge.

I agree with the judge, however, I think the payment scheme is still operating.

With regard to interrogation Lleweton experienced, there’s money in that, too. One of Frank Davis’s readers, a retired GP, Dr Ian Dunbar wrote:

Doctors in the NHS are paid for obeying edicts, rules and regulations laid down by the Department of Health rather than treating patients. The more obedient they are the more they get paid. That the NHS is not fit for purpose is underlined by the fact that it is reported that people who do not feel very well often have to wait forty-eight hours for an appointment with their family doctor, four hours in Accident & Emergency and weeks and months to see a specialist.

So, there you have it — and from a physician, no less.

God gave us all life. Yet, our corrupt governments act as if they granted it and as if it were theirs to micromanage.

Either we choose to play along or resist where we can. As we have seen, our government ‘betters’, particularly in matters of health and morality, have serious things to hide.

How much do we owe them where our health is concerned? Nothing beyond our taxes, I say.

In July, I wrote a piece on France’s Health Minister Marisol Touraine (Parti Socialiste), who said that smoking was France’s greatest public health issue.

Not only does she want to see smoking banned nearly everywhere outdoors, she also wants e-cigarettes banned from open-air areas. They set ‘a bad example’ for other French citizens, especially children. Think of the children!

At the time, I wrote:

Meanwhile, France has a chronic shortage of doctors in rural areas and they have little urgent weekend medical coverage elsewhere. But that seems much less urgent. I read in last week’s Marianne that Touraine is planning on closing a small ER in central Paris.

Furthermore, her department has set up state-sponsored shooting galleries for hard drug users. It seems heroin is all right, but tobacco is taboo …

Also, what about encouraging children to have sex before they even understand what it is? What about youth crime which damages youngsters psychologically as well as physically? It is sad to read about young French girls being raped in public places; only last week a 13-year old was raped on a street in Marseille in broad daylight.

See my series of articles under ‘the bogus science behind Tobacco Control’ on smoking bans and the big lie about second hand smoke. Even first hand smoke is up for question. As for fertility? The postwar years had the greatest number of smokers and the greatest number of babies born in the Western world.  Not to mention that our life expectancy is the longest it’s ever been — long before smoking bans.

It seems as if many non-smokers automatically go along with government and health experts (I use the word advisedly) advocating even more restrictions on tobacco.  They see these experts as clean-living angels. They are today’s priests, and secular pietism is the new religion.

You’ll notice that in July I mentioned the trauma — which may also result in illness — that victims of crime experience. Yet, this is never addressed by health ministers anywhere.

So, I was rather intrigued to find an article at the French site L’Internaute and the original source in Le Parisien saying that … Marisol Touraine’s son is serving a three-year prison term for extortion.

On September 10, 2013, Le Parisien reported (emphases mine):

According to our information, Gabriel Reveyrand de Menthon, age 22, son of the current Minister for Social Affairs and Health has been held since the beginning of September at La Santé [irony — ‘santé‘ means ‘health’] Prison in Paris. A sentence, which follows a conviction in March, of three years by the judges of the 10th correctional court of the Paris Tribunal. No appeal has been lodged.

The paper went on to say that the crime took place at 11:30 a.m. in Paris’s 13th arrondissement on May 2, 2011. Mme Touraine’s son needed money to pay off a debt.

He and an accomplice went to the flat of a 59-year old woman who lived in a building near the Minister’s residence. They were wearing balaclavas (knit face masks) and had a replica firearm.

The victim told Le Parisien:

I was very shocked by this, even though he was not physically violent towards me. I’ve known this boy for many years.

She said:

They asked me for my debit card. I gave them my PIN but was mistaken in the emotion of the moment. One of them went to a Post Office cash machine to withdraw the money. During that time, the other held the weapon against my temple. When the other came back, he wasn’t very happy that the transaction hadn’t worked. So, I told them I had some cash in the house, then they left.

The two made off with €990.

The accomplice was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Mme Touraine’s son has also been ordered to not only return the €990 but another €3000 as a moral debt. The victim’s lawyer says that she has not seen either of these sums come her way.

Mme Touraine has written a letter of apology to the victim. Neither she nor her lawyer have any comment to make on the story.

The moral of the story is that often those who try to dictate the lives of others — law-abiding taxpayers — would do well to clean their own houses first.

You can imagine that if this had happened to one of Sarkozy’s ministers, the Socialists would have been baying for his resignation.

Yet, in this case, Socialist reaction has been lenient towards Mme Touraine. ‘She can’t help what her son does.’

No, but if you do not have some moral control over your own family, you are probably unlikely to be able to fulfil your professional duties in an ethical manner.

In closing, as I write, I’ve just heard yet another French public health advert for smoking cessation. I can think of many worse health problems in life … crime, for one.

As yesterday’s post said, a small yet significant number of notional Christians have been moving into more extreme movements and churches in recent years.

Since I started this blog over four years ago, I’ve read more about groups old and new attracting more adherents to live a ‘holier’ life in Christ.

Of course, there is the centuries-old pietism, a questionable reaction to established churches in Germany, Scandinavia and Britain. A number of smaller sects, cults and independent borrowed heavily from it, as did some strands of Methodism. The Holiness churches are one example of this blending.

More recent movements are the curious Islamic-inspired family-centred movements which appoint the father as God’s representative of the household, dictating what wife and children may or must do and when. This includes the veiling of women in church and the lack of higher education available to female members of a household. The running of the house assumes an Islamic template in the use of corporal punishment by husbands on wives.

There is also an odd syncretism of Catholicism and Protestantism in the Federal Vision (FV) movement which over the past several years has become a fringe attraction for a small number of Calvinists in Flyover Country. Clergy dress like Catholic priests. A clear and reactionary ‘complementarianism’ of male and female roles is encouraged. Theonomy is a big theme; if only we could help Christ establish His kingdom — He needs our help (no!). Splinter FV groups advocate strict racial separation; the misguided get so mixed up in this that they do not hesitate to relocate in order to follow one of these pastors, who ends up establishing his own church because a Reformed denomination has rightly put him out to pasture.

And, in the midst of all this is the late 20th century Messianic Christianity: the Hebrew Roots Movement, Jews for Jesus, Sacred Name Movement and suchlike. Their followers are what the Epistles of Paul and Book of Acts referred to as Judaizers. I’ll get to that in a moment.

First, however, continuing from yesterday’s post, the Reformed minister Reed DePace wrote more on the subject for Green Baggins. DePace has strong views on the subject of the Hebrew Roots Movement, as he has a family friend — a former orthodox Protestant — who has begun following them. He has also counselled other families who became involved in this movement.

In ‘Gentle-Hardness with the Hebrew Roots Movement’, DePace writes (emphases in bold mine):

Let me say up front that the more I hear from proponents of the HRM the more I am persuaded it is a modern form of the Pharisaical-Judaizing heresy condemned in Scripture. More broadly I think these criticisms also apply to a large part of the Messianic Christianity movement (MCM). This follows because the HRM is both a child of the MCM and is the deep doctrinal well which waters the growth of the MCM. I recognize that there exist Messianic Jews who shun with horror the errors of the HRM and more broadly those in the MCM. My criticisms do not apply to them.

In my own pastoral calling I’ve have had to help families affected by the HRM/MCM. It was this need that first prompted my study of this subject a couple of years back. In part I sympathize with those attracted to the HRM/MCM. I acknowledge and affirm their desire for a better relationship with God.

One of the greatest sadnesses in my community is the problem of gospel-presumptive Christians. These are not nominal Christians, folks who are nothing more than culturally Christian. No, these are folks for whom Christianity is a regular part of their everyday life. They have a rudimentary grasp of the basics of the gospel. Yet they have little practical understanding of how to live by the gospel (Rom 1:16-17, Gal 2:20, Col 2:6-7, etc.). As a result they are left to trying to live the Christian life through the use of their own resources (i.e., living by sight, not by faith; 2Co 5:7). So when such folks run across a new (old) teaching that promises a whole new experience of God’s power; that offers out the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise of the abundant life (John 10:10), it is understandable how the HRM can be attractive to them.

The problem is that what is attracting them is not a better understanding of the gospel at all but something straight from the pit of Hell.

I was surprised to read in his third post, ‘Of Tzitzits, Tallits and Traditions’, that some of these HRM adherents — men — are wearing Jewish prayer garments.

In anglicized Hebrew the prayer shawl is called a tallit, the tassels are called tzitzits. Sit down with any Messianic Christian who uses a tallit with tzitzits and ask them to explain the practice. Very quickly they will be offering you arguments based on men’s traditions – NOT the Scriptures ...

It is hard to understand how this practice of the Mosaic Law is nothing more than a tradition of man. Therefore, to insist that in any manner its practice is even advisable for Christians, is to teach as holy what Jesus condemned as wicked.

DePace adds in the comments:

Spend some time looking at websites these folks frequent and you’ll see that they are teaching a new version of the old Pharisaical heresy, to wit that Torah keeping is still required of Christians. They can dress it up, massage it, tweak it any way they wish. At the bottom of all their arguments is this simple teaching: Torah keeping is necessary for the Christian in his relationship with God.

A commenter, JGIG, observes:

Also important to note here is that Torah folk are not focused on passing on the Life of Christ to the Lost; they are primarily focused on teaching Christians to become Torah observant. You will not hear them tell of spreading the Gospel to the nations, but of spreading Torah to the nations. The spreading of the Gospel, the message of the forgiveness of sins and the free gift of eternal life that the Apostles constantly risked and nearly all of them eventually lost their lives for, is not the Law keepers’ priority.

This makes them every bit the Judaizers that Paul preached so strongly against in the letter to the Galatians.

That said, I do not condemn them (the Law will eventually do that); most HRMers get into Law ‘keeping’ because they love and want to please God. Unfortunately, they come under a false belief system because they don’t have a firm grasp of

Who Jesus is
What He came to do
What that actually accomplished, and
Who we as believers are in Him.

When one has a firm grasp on those things, false teachings tend to fall away.

I guess I would just gently exhort you to not dismiss the HRM as just another ‘denomination’; they are not. They are preaching another gospel and also another jesus (they believe that Jesus/Yeshua is the Living Torah) – do not underestimate the damage they are doing in the Body [of the Church].

Going back to the ‘Gentle-Hardness’ post, DePace outlines the New Testament timeline of those in error between Torah and Gospel. This is well worth reading, especially for those who are directly impacted by family or friends in this movement as well as pastors who are counselling same:

AD 39-40: The Church in Jerusalem concluded that God has rescinded the Mosaic Law’s Jew-Gentile separation provisions (Acts 10-11).
AD 49-50 (the exact order of the following series is immaterial to the points being made):

  • Paul confronts Peter and Barnabas for their hypocrisy in separating themselves from Gentile believers in the Church in Galatia.
  • Later, Paul writes to the Galatians to warn them in the strongest terms against (supposed) Christians who were teaching them that Gentile believers needed to keep the Mosaic ceremonial/worship laws in order to be right with God.
  • The Church concluded that Gentile believers ARE NOT to be subjected to the ceremonial/worship provisions of the Mosaic Law (Acts 15).

AD 62-68 (again, the exact dates for writing each of these is immaterial to the points made):

  • Paul writes (First) Timothy, offering him instruction for his pastoral duties (Ephesian Church).
  • Paul writes to Titus, giving him counsel on his pastoral duties (Cretan Church).
  • Paul writes further instruction to (Second) Timothy in the discharge of his pastoral duties.
  • In all three letters one of the critical issues Paul addressed was the heresy of the Judaizers, those who would require Gentile Christians to practice the Mosaic ceremonial/worship laws.

Did you follow the progression of these things? From eliminating Jew-Gentile separation, to removal of Mosaic law provisions on Gentiles, to fighting against those who would place Christians back under slavery to the Mosaic Law.

DePace helpfully provides a list of New Testament verses which refute the Judaizers — and legalism. They were applicable at the time and continue to be so today. This is a useful collection of verses to use with legalists. Here are but a few:

Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in– who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery– to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. (Gal 2:4-5)

You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. (Gal 5:4)

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. (1Ti 1:3-4)

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. (1Ti 6:3-5)

Let us pray for those enslaved by legalism — religious or secular. Much of it is based on heresy.

Two months ago New Zealand, in its zeal to stamp out smoking, banned tobacco displays in shops.

Now Tobacco Control is disappointed that the display ban didn’t result in a drop in product sales.

As Jay at Nannying Tyrants says, it would be more meaningful to revisit sales volume in several months and a few years’ time.

Jay explores the notion of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Yet he, like I, have known of colleagues who have scoured an entire office block in search of a biscuit. Therefore, why wouldn’t a smoker react in the same way?

Tobacco Control aren’t very good students of human nature, nor do they particularly care to address this deficit.

Jay quoted New Zealand’s Labour health spokeswoman Maryan Street who said that laws change people’s attitudes (emphases mine):

As for the nanny-state accusations, I have always believed that the law changes people’s behaviour, and that attitudes come next. You can’t compel people to feel differently about things or to have different attitudes, but you can compel them to change their behaviour and that usually results further down the line in a change of attitude. The restrictions on smoking are a prime example of that.

That’s simultaneously bemusing, weird and scary.

Bemusing because attitudes normally change laws. The prohibition of slavery in the West is the most obvious example.  (It still occurs in Muslim-dominated countries in Africa.)

Weird because she is convinced of this.

Scary because one can envisage the Left lobbying for all sorts of laws being passed to change public attitudes. This is no doubt why left-wing governments pass a plethora of legislation and the Right, thinking that’s the thing to do, carries on with the pile-up.

If we consider the seatbelt law, CRB [UK’s Criminal Records Bureau] checks for volunteering, cycling helmets, smoking bans, transfat bans, soft drink taxes and so on — which most people happily accept without thinking — we can see that we have allowed government to run our lives over the past 40-odd years. That’s a heck of a long time. And, as Jay pointed out in his post, any resistance is regarded as secular heresy.

However, we the people need to do something if we wish to turn the tide.

Let’s take a step back and, yes, let’s resist for a change. Push back against further encroachment from the state.

Just say no to what you can when you can.

Cranmer reports that a Christian councillor on the Brighton and Hove (Sussex) City Council has been expelled from the Green Party.

In July 2012 Christina Summers was the only city councillor to vote against gay marriage. Although, as I write, the Green Party have not yet released the official report for her expulsion, this and other matters are thought to have contributed. Scrapper Duncan has more on the story here and here. Some of these objections concern her Evangelical Christianity.

Greens do not mind Christian members as long as they practice a liberal brand of Jesus’s teachings. Evangelical churches in the UK are, by and large, quite conservatively biblical in their views. Green Party members must sign up to an equality clause, which Summers did. Perhaps since then she has come to a greater knowledge of the New Testament.

It would appear that Summers has since contacted Christian Concern, allied with the Christian Legal Centre, about her expulsion.

Personally, I would say it was time to move on and join another political party. The problem is — where would Summers go? Nearly all the parties in England have a pro-gay marriage position, although one can quietly object for now. I’m not sure where UKIP stands, but they might be too conservative for her in terms of environmentalism. Maybe, then, it’s time to choose another career.

This is one of the drawbacks with the Church of Gaia. It claims to be about environmentalism but dabbles in other areas of social transformation. Greens elsewhere in the West are the same.

Rambling Steve Appleseed describes them aptly in the comments on Cranmer’s post:

I was a member of the Green party for several years a couple of decades ago until I saw though the touchy feely rhetoric and realised that they are not merely innumerate Utopian socialsits with dope addled brains but highly intolerant and profoundly anti Christian. Bet I’ve planted more trees than any of them. They are a menace in a one moron one vote society because their rhetoric and imagery is so catchy but heaven help us if a tenth of their uncosted, untested sub-Marxian Utopian dreams became policy.

How true.

I also find it vaguely amusing that a party which takes the Lord’s name in vain (see the first of Scrapper Duncan’s posts) is lecturing us on secular pietism in terms of smoking, drinking and food. Whited sepulchres.

On Monday, July 2, 2012, Le Monde published an article touting the benefits of physical exercise, saying that they were too often misunderstood.

So, it was somewhat ironic to read that Terra Nova’s founder Olivier Ferrand died at age 42, after jogging near his home in Velaux near Marseille on Saturday, June 30. He had suffered a heart attack.

RMC’s Jean-Jacques Bourdin briefly interviewed a cardiologist on Monday morning. He asked the doctor how such a thing can happen. The specialist replied that arterial plaque can become dislodged during a workout and result in a fatal obstruction later.  His advice was to adjust physical activity to one’s age group. ‘A middle-aged man cannot maintain the same regime that he did in his 20s. He runs serious health risks,’ adding that seemingly healthy, athletic men are dying more often of heart attacks.

SpouseMouse had two friends who died in similar circumstances. No doubt some of you have, too.

Is exercise, therefore, bad? No, it just needs to be done in moderation. It is no wonder that heart disease is called the ‘silent killer’; physically fit people are unaware they might have it.

Sadly, Ferrand’s mother was the one to find his body in the garden. How awful. My deepest sympathies to her, his widow Carole and their 12-year old daughter.

Ferrand had been recently elected as one of the MPs for Marseille. He was no doubt still involved with Terra Nova whilst campaigning for office. His deputy MP and mayor of Velaux Jean-Pierre Maggi — who looks to be succeeding him in Parliament — told Agence France Presse:

Was it cumulative fatigue? He was going at 100 km an hour, slept little, worked a lot. And he always had to run.

Ferrand enjoyed participating in marathons. He also played tennis and went skiing.

It will be interesting to see what becomes of Terra Nova now. I had written critically last year about the ideas coming out of it. Ferrand was a big supporter of the now-tarnished Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) and was the brains behind the Parti Socialiste (PS).  He came up with the PS campaign strategy of rejecting the traditional base of the French working class in favour of immigrants, women and gays.

This is what he told Le Point magazine a little over a year ago, a few days before DSK’s sex scandal broke in New York. (At that time, he would have planned to help with the strategy of DSK’s campaign. As it was, his plans helped the PS to win not only this Spring’s general election but the parliamentaries as well.) Emphases mine:

Le Point: Your [Terra Nova] report suggests that the Left must modify its electoral strategy for 2012 by no longer depending on the working and middle classes for support.  Is this a wind-up?

Olivier Ferrand: No! We’re basing it on factual studies in France and in nine other countries (Germany, the UK, The Netherlands, Sweden, Hungary, Australia, Canada, the US) … The electoral base has changed …  Under Mitterand, the working classes were united by values, they no longer are. The left’s electoral base — its heart — was the working class.  It no longer is.

Le Point: What happened?

Ferrand: … The Left evolved with the impact of May ’68 and progressively adopted open values on sexual mores, the family, immigration, national identity and diversityOn the other hand, the working class retreated and became insular, having been worked over by the [economic] crisis and the fear of [losing their position as a social class], which has sent the FN [Front National] into hysteria. But a new electoral base has emerged, linked to open cultural values, [those which are] positive, tolerant, about solidarity, optimism, a hopeful future and comprised of young people, poorer working class areas, minorities and women.  This is the France of tomorrow …

He also advanced the meme — in March 2011 — that the conservative UMP (Sarkozy’s party) would join forces with the FN. Although a couple of rogue UMP candidates did ally with the FN in June, a party alliance was never going to happen, thankfully — nor will it happen, for many reasons. However, the slur still appears endlessly in France’s dominant left-wing media. It would be interesting to know if Ferrand or Terra Nova came up with the suggestion.

Take the penultimate sentence in the last paragraph of the Le Point quote:

But a new electoral base has emerged, linked to open cultural values, [those which are] positive, tolerant, about solidarity, optimism, a hopeful future and comprised of young people, poorer working class areas, minorities and women.

Essentially: ‘our new electoral base is positive, tolerant, open-minded and hopeful. It is made up of young people and urbanites’.

During both campaigns this year, the PS — again, possibly Ferrand or Terra Nova — put forward the idea of a ‘moral vote’. Taking what Ferrand said about this new voter base, there appears to have been some emotional blackmail behind it. In other words: ‘if you vote morally, you will vote PS. However, if you vote UMP, then you are negative, intolerant, closed minded and cynical’.

Yes, Ferrand was extremely intelligent, highly gifted, a marvellous strategist and much more. However, it always seemed as if he strongly disliked the average French person. Nevertheless, his plans paid off handsomely for François Hollande and the PS.  Even La Creuse, the most French and rural of départements — as well as the poorest — voted overwhelmingly PS.

I would find it comforting if Terra Nova were now to lose its way; its tactics seem dishonest and smell of social engineering. However, not only are several Terra Nova people in Prime Minister Ayrault’s cabinet but the think tank employs 1,000 ‘experts’. So, it does not look as if its influence will diminish anytime soon.

Concluding on health, especially with the current overemphasis on sport and eradication of ‘bad’ habits, two of France Info‘s readers had this to say:

kibog: Stay with the cigarettes, you’ll die more slowly.

lainox: I was thinking about giving up cigarettes and taking up jogging; now I’m hesitant.

The fact of the matter is that we do not know how or when we will die. We can go the healthist route and be driven to excel in all that we do, which Ferrand’s educational path would have programmed him for, or we can take time out to chill out and indulge in a bit of what we fancy now and then.

Therefore, it is unclear whether secular pietism really does extend our lives.

There is no magic bullet lifestyle, even for the best and brightest.

The past few days I have been featuring professors, some of whom are physicians — Philippe Even, Robert Molimard and John B Davies — who have criticised the tactics of the worldwide industry of Tobacco Control.

Not only is the science bad but it ends up stigmatising smokers — and it’s taxpayer-funded by nonsmokers as well as smokers, who pay increasingly exhorbitant amounts of tax whenever they purchase tobacco.

Today’s post profiles Professor Romano Grieshaber, the recently retired physician and head of the Department for Prevention and Research at the “Berufsgenossenschaft Nahrungsmittel und Gaststätten (BGN)”, the German Employer’s Liability Insurance Association for the Food and Catering Industry.

So disgusted by what he witnessed over the decades, he recently published a book called  Passivrauchen – Götterdämmerung der Wissenschaft (Passive smoking – Science’s twilight of the gods). Currently, the book is available only in German.

Two months ago, blogger Frank Davis and two of his German readers put together a review in English of  Grieshaber’s views and his book.

Quotes from Grieshaber appear below, highlights mine.

The problem with global Tobacco Control today:

According to the well known phrase: ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. In Science, whenever the subject addressed is Tobacco, every objection can easily be nipped in the bud by using the same dismissive phrases (‘Tobacco lobby’ accusations etc.) over and over again, and this has given the WHO-led global Tobacco Control movement a position of power which has offered too many temptations for scientific integrity to survive unscathed. One can assume that scientists who have seriously delved more deeply into the subject of tobacco smoke have been aware of this for a long time. But almost every one of them is silent. Why? Given my own experience it is very likely that dissenting voices are systematically silenced. I am convinced that effective means of exerting pressure exist for this.

On the reaction to his book:

Colleagues from the German scientific community have defamed me and my work. They said I was in the pay of the tobacco industry; I was even called a “mass murderer” once. Such infringements and slander are not easy to take, especially when it also involves employees, and … our reputation as scientists is violated.

As with Professors Even and Molimard, Grieshaber believes anti-tobacco efforts should revolve around properly conducted studies and solid findings to help smokers, not stigmatise them:

What preys on my mind are my decades of experience in dealing with, both medically and scientifically, the working population and the risks to which they are exposed. They are the victims of symbolic politics. They are being fobbed off with pseudo explanations and inappropriate accusations of blame, while the real causes of their ailments remain undetected – and are even supposed to remain undetected, because anything else would place the foundations of the out-of-control WHO campaign in jeopardy. … My position on the second hand smoke issue developed only gradually, the more I realized and experienced the full extent of the obsession with which WHO-controlled science responds when it is confronted with real life.

And, yes, contrary to popular opinion, proper ventilation systems are available, however:

It is a macabre irony of history that the WHO and its disciples instigated international condemnation of the research results, brushing aside a law governing research trade associations such as the BGN, and boycotted the manufacturers and certification body of the most sophisticated ventilation systems […] and thus forced the abandonment of their work in this area. The interdict used UN sanctions, as if the WHO’s fight against ventilation technology to protect nonsmokers was about preventing mass murderers and dictators from their bloody business.

He has empathy with smokers and opposes Tobacco Control’s moral crusade, which has nothing to do with science:

In which law of nature is it supposed to be enshrined – that it is impossible to reduce the health risks for smokers who do not want to give up their vice? Risk reduction becomes impossible only according to the dogma that smokers must be encouraged in all circumstances to quit smoking. The underlying idea in this is a quasi-religious notion of sin and of salvation based on repentance which has no place in science at all.

However, he, too, believes that the jury is out on the dangers of secondhand smoke:

It would be very inconvenient for the WHO, should it turn out that their warnings about the health risks of secondhand smoke were based on gross exaggerations. And so one may guess the means and resources they use to fight dissident opinion and critical inquiry. I got to know them all: Deception, concealment, falsification, control of the professional media (and thus of professional interactions), as well as intimidation which goes so far that I’ve ceased to wonder why in the professional world hardly anyone dares to object when it comes to the subject of passive smoke.

Like Professor Davies, Grieshaber is concerned about the lengths Tobacco Control will go in their crusade:

When it comes to tobacco smoke, over the course of time a universe emerged, existing only on paper and in the minds of many devout disciples, which, after being constantly supplemented with more and more alleged, hair-raising dangers, now more or less resembles a painting by Hieronymus Bosch. This development, as such, is pathological, and the chances of ensuring better health in the world in this way are are low to nonexistent. Probably even the opposite is true: The real risk factors, especially for non-smokers, as a result of a greatly exaggerated role of passive smoke, are neglected and therefore continue to act unhindered.

That said, Grieshaber is cautiously optimistic about the ability to rein in Tobacco Control:

At the end the global ‘war on tobacco’ of the WHO will fail – the question is not whether, but only when. It will be doomed to failure not only because of their drift into bottomless pseudo-science, but also because of their self-righteous claim to absoluteness. The optimisation of naturally deficient human being to a target of hundred percent has never yet worked in the entire history of human civilisation, other than in the imagination of the initiators of the recent programme for the improvement of mankind. Even with the strictest control and suppression and extermination measures, it has never been possible to completely eradicate ideas and people that supposedly threaten man’s spiritual welfare, or the progress of humanity, or the realization of socialism, or – in today’s case – global ‘health’. It will not be successful this time either.

But history also tells us, how tremendous damage may be done by those ‘improvers of mankind’, if the right moment for objection is missed. That right moment is right now and I have entered my objection. It’s my wish for you, for me, and for our society that it will be heard and understood and will provide impetus to start a new course: to a science that is fallible, and willing to learn, and able to abandon old certainities when new knowledge is found.

Therefore, Grieshaber — as the other three professors profiled here this week — has risked speaking out against bogus Tobacco Control science.

Tobacco Control’s fight has surpassed its struggle against tobacco companies. They have been able to stymie them in terms of marketing and fighting their corner. That means that for the better part of the last decade, the anti-tobacco movement has had smokers — individuals — in its sights.

Who holds the balance of power? Tobacco Control, with its various organisations from WHO down to international bodies such as ASH and national offshoots, including charities who siphon funds off the taxpayer to maintain their ‘industry’ and keep their paycheques coming in.

Such an egregious situation should concern every taxpayer — we’re all financing them in a time of economic crisis.

However, moving beyond smoking, a recent report published by Britain’s Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) revealed that British taxpayers foot the bill for 75% of the income of 27,000 (yes, that’s right) groups, often calling themselves ‘charities’. This setup, as incomprehensible as it is, helps the government to give the impression that they are receiving informed, expert opinions that can push forward unpopular policies.

Therefore, it is to be hoped that Christians supporting or seeking involvement with these organisations think twice about the integrity of this arrangement and their self-seeking interests.

More on advocacy groups next week.

Continuing a series on parasitic advocacy groups living off of taxpayers’ money, today’s post explores what anti-tobacco researcher Professor Philippe Even said upon his retirement.

What follows was originally part of one of my 2011 posts on secular pietism. The name implies a carry-over of outer ‘holiness’ to secularists. More whited sepulchres.

On smoking — here is what Philippe Even, a retired French civil servant and dean of the Necker Research Institute, France’s largest medical faculty told Le Parisien in 2010. First, he reveals why he didn’t speak up before now about the spurious science behind tobacco bans:

I was held to confidentiality. If I had deviated from official positions, I would have had to pay the consequences. Today, I am a free man.

Dr Even spent his career in public health research.  On the purported — and often reported — 3000 – 6000 deaths in France from passive smoking:

I am curious to know their sources. No study has ever produced such a result.

On passive smoking being responsible for cardiovascular disease and asthma:

Take the case of cardiovascular diseases: the four main causes are obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. To determine whether passive smoking is an aggravating factor, there should be a study on people who have none of these four symptoms. But this was never done. Regarding chronic bronchitis, although the role of active smoking is undeniable, that of passive smoking is yet to be proven. For asthma, it is indeed a contributing factor … but not greater than pollen!

On public smoking bans based on nothing:

The psychosis began with the publication of a report by the IARC, International Agency for Research on Cancer, which depends on the WHO [World Health Organisation]. The report released in 2002 says it is now proven that passive smoking carries serious health risks, but without showing the evidence. Where are the data? What was the methodology? It’s everything but a scientific approach. It was creating fear that is not based on anything.

For those reading this who disapprove of tobacco and alcohol: they are legal products for adult consumption.  We have also seen that prohibition and high taxation on these ‘sins’ — past and present — drive the market underground.

Ultimately, the danger — and perhaps this is what secular pietists want — is that adults become infantilised.  And those who drink or smoke are also stigmatised as well as infantalised.  It’s a sad, mad and bad situation for anyone of majority age.

Think you’re an adult?  Not in the eyes of the State or health movements.

Just as bad is the deliberately misguided scapegoating of tobacco smokers. If any other minority were denied housing, employment or hospitality, there would be an outcry.  In the 19th and 20th centuries, it was not unusual for boarding house proprietors to post a sign in their window saying, ‘No dogs, no blacks, no Irish’. Thankfully, those days are behind us.

However, now that the last taboo — with regard to the same-sex community — has been legislated out of existence, this century presented us with the problem of finding new scapegoats. The new scapegoats are smokers. Unlike other minority groups, they have no rights at all. And, just as in days of yore, ignorance, fear and anger are fuelling the emotion and irrationality against one of God’s plants — tobacco — and His people, smokers.

The worst part about this is that smokers have no choice but to fund their own demise. Their excessive tobacco taxes fund the same advocacy groups out to persecute them.

Tomorrow: Another scientist speaks out against bogus tobacco science

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