Australian bar owners, stung by smoking bans, are trying to stay alive by promoting newly and often expensively installed beer gardens. Anti’s ears sting when she hears such solicitations. She demands they be silenced under force of the law.

Naturally, Australian bars advertise their foods and drinks openly, and their entertainments — which may be schmoozy pianists or raunchy strip acts — and their facilities and accommodations and their ambiance — which might range from plush to plain or roomy to squishy and from the sedate to the raucous to the sleazy or "pick-up bar" atmosphere — whatever their lures, bars get the word out about them, touting the relative attributes such varied elements may possess for some. Naturally, we say, that’s how things have always been, that’s how bars let folks know what they have to offer, so the folks may come to enjoy what’s available if it strikes their fancy (or avoid it if it doesn’t), so very naturally, bars are expected to publicize such things and it’s taken for granted that they will.

Enter anti-smoking. Anti is, as we know, strictly contrary to normality. All that is humanly natural, particularly regarding socializing or hospitality, is anathema to the Anti mentality. Anti has been sniffing around, she has been peeping, and prowling, and has learned that the good nature she has managed to stifle with smoking bans still has a tongue it can wag. For example, bar manager Richard Chatfield has sent this text message to his "Q" bar’s subscription list of private members: "Q: new licensed smoking area open 2nite so bring carton and let’s go." The Terminus Hotel in Abbotsford, with similar facilities, has put up a sign saying: "Smoke in comfort and style." Other places reach out to smoking clientèle in such-like ways.

Doctor Mark Westcott notes that he considers some medical conditions smoking-related so he is disgusted with any and all respect shown for smokers. He has no worry about generally contagious or drinking-related or sexually-transmitted or any other sorts of medical conditions, of course, his disgust for smokers is absolute and leaves no room for concern about anything else. He hates smokers. Eradicate them entirely from the social scene (or the Earth) and he will abide or partake in all other indulgences with a shrug.

While Mark Westcott would simply like to see all smokers and all their accommodators punished more ever more ever more, Ms Fiona Sharkie, Executive Director of Quit Victoria, considers her profound disgust a legal argument in itself. Unlike hospitality industry advertising regarding food, drink, entertainment, facilities, accommodations, relative loudness or sleaziness, or anything else (pertaining to non-smokers only), Fiona tells us any communication about any comfort or accommodation for smokers is direct endorsement of a practice and a product: it is promotion and advertising of tobacco, and that, she declaims, is against the law.

Fiona has called on the government to intercede. Will it? In the age of Anti anything to oppress and humiliate smokers is eminently possible. Why? Because too many acquiesce to tyrants. Apprised by the press of Westcott’s and Sharkie’s displeasure, for instance, the "Q" manager fumbled defensively, while the spokesman for the Terminus Hotel gulped that the offending sign would be removed immediately. The ideologically fanatical government may indeed punish operators of legal beer gardens quite savagely. When it comes to tobacco, freedom of speech has been reduced to "cut out their tongues," and dear readers, the prohibitionists will gladly cut out your hearts when they decide the time has come for that. Understand what this all is. Do not underestimate fascism.



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