Echos of 1848?

It’s a sad time to be a liberty lover in Europe:

Europe started 2008 with a raft of new laws against smoking, air pollution and even junk food adverts, but some grumbled that the New Year’s resolutions from the “nanny state” cramped their style.


New rules ban public smoking – even in France! – indoors, smoggy cars from major cities, fatty and salty food ads, etc. The Right is, of course, up in arms:

“I will not let anyone stop me from smoking at my own business,” Ali, owner of the Westend Pinte bar in Berlin, told Germany’s mass-market Bild newspaper.

“I’ve been smoking 40 cigarettes a day since I was 12 — I can’t quit now.”

Anne Cicek, manager of the Bier Bar in east Berlin, told the daily Berliner Zeitung that she would defy the rules: “We are not little children who need to be told what we cannot do.”

The conservative newspaper Die Welt noted that 19th century revolutionaries in Berlin had waved the banner for, among other civil liberties, the right to smoke wherever they pleased.

Rather, they would be up in arms if anybody in Europe were actually allowed arms. But still.

Even the Left is upset:

Writing in the left-wing Liberation newspaper, sociologist Henri Pierre Jeudy suggested the ban marked “the end of an era” for France — and a danger for personal freedoms.

“Public health costs are being used to justify an ever more coercive control over our private lives,” he said, with France’s yen for smoky cafes now cast as “an unhealthy mistake”.

But Jeudy also warned that “alcohol and tobacco have traditionally been used as weapons against stress.”

“Their use, and sometimes abuse, has probably prevented many a collective revolt. Will banning them spark new rebellions?”


Well, when you’ve pissed off the Center, the Right, and the Left, can revolution be far behind?

We can hope.


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