Sp!ked Online warns us of the Temperance Movement’s latest wheeze to destroy the pubgoing experience- plastic beakers instead of glasses. We’re not safe with glasses, you see. They have to be banned. And if a few more people give up on going to the pub, and some more pubs close… great, that gets us closer to the utopian DrinkFree state!
This reminds me of an argument I had with a woman in Northampton town centre a couple of years ago. She was campaigning to have glasses banned from nightclubs, because her son had been glassed in a fight, and she had lots of home-made leaflets, and pictures of her son’s injury, which was like Nick’s self-inflicted one, but less interesting. So normally I’m a reserved chap who would have passed by on the other side, but this time I thought I’d engage her in a debate. And we went back and forth with me with all my clever philosophy about the argument from harm and Mill and what’s wrong with it, and so on, and she obviously wasn’t going to budge.
And there were people toddling up and signing her petition, and it was quite noticable that none of them seemed to be of the nightclubbing demographic. So this one middle aged chap with the look of a beer drinker about him came up to sign the petition, and out came a slogan he must have picked up from somewhere- “It’s the innocents that get hurt, isn’t it?”. He said it with a self-satisfied expression that seemed to be saying “Having signed this petition, I have done a good deed today. I think I’ll celebrate with a nice pint”.
So I said to him, “you know that if they ban them in nightclubs, they’ll make you drink out of a plastic beaker in your local pub next?”
And a look of horror came over his face, and he turned to the lady and said, “It’s just nightclubs isn’t it? Not pubs?!”
And she confirmed that indeed it was just nightclubs, and he toddled away happy, because he’d done the good deed of helping ensure that other people would be forced to drink out of plastic beakers, and it wouldn’t affect him.
Which is pretty much how the prohibitionists’ baby steps strategy works so well. They get people to vote for the precedent to be imposed on somebody else, and really, there’s no slippery slope, that’s a fallacy…