Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cheers Dave!

I'm with Dave on the substance of the smoking ban. I expect others aren't and that there'll be no Aarowatch party line. Whatever view you take on this, there should be dancing in the streets of Auchtermuchtie tonight over this:

Such people [officious coffee-bar managers] are, recognisably, the descendants of that lost — and now romanticised — breed, the little Hitlers who used to tell you that whatever it was you were doing was infringing a bylaw and that you should now get off the grass, off your bike, off the bus, off the train and generally cease to be.

Why? Certainly not because of the truth or falsity of what Dave says, but rather because he rehabilitates the use of the phrase "little Hitlers". It has become a standard trope of Decent blogging that any Nazi or Hitler comparisons are off-limits. Indeed, in possibly the worst ever argument put by a decent on the internet, one of Geras's mates once argued at Normblog that Hitler-comparisons are a species of Holocaust denial. I may not like it when my teenage kids call me a "fucking Nazi" for asking them to clean their bedrooms, but against the Decents I'll defend to the death their right to say it!

Elsewhere, Dave reminds us why the proper use of the word "incontinent" should be restricted to professional philosophers discussing Aristotle:

My bet would be on the opposite happening; smokers, like Hockney, are incontinent and often choose to have no idea of how much non-smokers dislike their habit. Who, after all, is going to tell the nation’s most celebrated painter that he stinks

Pass the colostomy bag!


Anonymous Backword Dave said...

As so often with DA, I find myself much more irritated if I pay close attention. Unlike Nick, he's careful in his sentence construction, and much of it grates. There's an assumption that a writer (middle class, note) is "of transparent honesty" -- as are many smooth conmen, of course. What of DBC Pierre, Jean Genet, or even dear old Jeffrey Archer? (Archer was once accused of stealing two suits from a store in a Canadian shopping mall; he successfully claimed that he hadn't realised that he had left that particular shop.)

"...coffee bar managers and other persons in debateable authority..." But they're not in "debateable authority" in their own domains. I don't think it's fascist or little Hitlerist to stop shoplifting or, if you run a pub, throw out drunks. There's something here which I can't quite put my finger on, but I suspect for DA that authority comes from above; and I think it goes with something more like private property. In your own shop or whatever, your authority is pretty total. (OK obviously it doesn't extend to the right to murder or assault. But the right to some authority in one's own space seems pretty inalienable to me.)

So his analogy seems flawed. The coffee bar manager was defending himself (if incorrectly); that's quite different from invoking a higher authority and sticking your nose in. Dave thinks there is non-debateable authority. I think we should all tend our gardens. Now, would he tell someone to put a cigarette out?

He's got the Hockney argument ever so slightly wrong too. Tony Benn, like his late colleague, is a vegetarian. He's a teetotaller to boot.

3/28/2006 04:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

Indeed, in possibly the worst ever argument put by a decent on the internet, one of Geras's mates once argued at Normblog that Hitler-comparisons are a species of Holocaust denial.

That'd be Eve Garrard, whose main online project appears to be to 'objectively' prove that anyone who has ever expressed moderate criticism of Israeli policies is a de facto anti-semite, on the grounds that they aren't kicking up an equal stink about the plight of the occupied peoples of Western Sahara or wherever. Nope, sorry, "I'm entitled to have an opinion about stuff that's in the news, and not to know about stuff that isn't in the news" doesn't cut it. You're almost as bad as Hitler!

Meanwhile, the Jewish Chronicle reported that, in the Israeli election campaign, Benjamin Netanyahu was accusing Kadima of 'Goebbels-like' tactics. Bloody Holocaust deniers, they get everywhere these days, eh.

3/28/2006 08:04:00 PM  
Anonymous bruschettaboy said...

[This has the interesting effect (as it does with the playwright) of emboldening him to say what he really thinks, unrestrained. Maybe we should try it with politicians.]

nice try Aaro ...

Also, the motorcycle helmets bit is pretty weird. Compulsory helmets do in fact amount to a "no motorbikes for Sikhs" law, which is why they have a special exemption from it IIRC.

I often wonder what it would be like if Eve Garrard was right about the world; presumably, since Holocaust denial would be no worse than saying "Bush = Hitler", it would be a lot more common.

3/29/2006 09:02:00 AM  
Anonymous McGazz said...

I've seen it argued on Harry's Place that anyone who cites Godwin's Law is, in essence, denying the Holocaust.

3/29/2006 12:58:00 PM  

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