Sunday, 9 November 2008

Stop the temperance war on choice

The utter stupidity of temperance nazis is currently being demonstrated in the Manx courts. Or it would if the government department involved could even get their act together enough to turn up and make a case.
The case revolves around an incident in a garage where a Department of Fair Trade employee says she saw an under-age girl buying fags. If that was all that came out, it would sound like a fair cop – bad petrol company selling ciggies shamelessly to ickle kiddies, etc. But it’s not the whole story.
From other sources I know that the garage owner, having studied CCTV tapes, still thinks the girl looks well over age and would have served her himself, as his employee did.
I also know the employee is a hardcore teetotaller and non-smoker who challenges kids on their age all the time. He’s about the least likely person on the island to flog booze or fags to anyone under the legal age – even late at night when they turn up in a gang.
So far the garage owner and his employee have taken two separate days off to turn up for court, only for the DFT to ring in and say they’re not ready to proceed. It’s a nightmare for a business trying to get by in a credit crunch, though business as incompetently usual for a government department.
The whole stupid point seems to be to secure a highly publicised prosecution and ‘send a message’ to other small businesses and kids who smoke.
I’ll give two reasons.
Firstly, the island’s corner shops have already been driven out of business by a mixture of bureaucracy and government kowtowing to property developers who want to gentrify perfectly decent working class areas. So people move on to garages and supermarkets as the only places open and cheap enough.
Then middle class temperance nazis move in, demanding the source of cheap booze and fags is blocked, claiming kiddie innocence and family life must be protected – oh, and creating a few cosy, publicly funded ‘counsellor’ jobs for their unemployable mates at church.
Pass me a sick bag –pulleeeese!!!
Secondly, when it comes to families or kids, the Manx government gave up providing adequate services years ago, and gave up even inadequate ones when it adopted measures like a five year drug and alcohol plan which, in effect, closed the last professional service and employed faith-based amateurs at a fraction of the cost.
One of the island’s most experienced youth workers tells me, quite bluntly, that kids have had all the drug, alcohol and other health education anyone can give them – despite fundie opposition to any professionally delivered variants still on offer. They know ten times more about the subjects than any evangelical whackjob being employed to offer ‘counselling’ as a condition of non-custodial sentences or early release.
In short, they make a fully informed choice to drink, smoke and generally enjoy life now even if it means problems later. That is at least an improvement on the compulsory religious indoctrination anyone up to the age of 18 faces in local schools.
This government no longer cares if anyone unemployable outside the finance sector lives or dies. It just pumps out media bilge full of buzz words like ‘empathy’, ‘caring’, ‘family’ and ‘concern’ which fool enough Daily Mail readers too lazy to read further. The kids know that, and if there were enough local people who care enough about real civil liberties we would grasp it too and oppose the temperance nazi intent to interfere with informed choice where it still remains.

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