Alan Howe – a former Sunday Herald Sun editor and now one of the former editors promoted into high-paying HWT editorial executivedom – continues to astound with his bizarre column in the Herald Sun.
He first came to our attention when he endorsed an extreme left-wing property millionaire Les Twentyman during the Kororoit by-election and oddly denounced blogger Andrew Landeryou’s ultimately very successful attempts to call the wealthy leftist to account. But today’s effort suggests that Howe’s column is probably not long for this world.
So self-indulgent, inconsistent and wrong is it that it should surely be considered for acknowledgement in Fairfax Media’s internal awards, designed to permanently nobble the journalist union’s awards night, the Walkley’s.
A HOLOCAUST AROUND EVERY CORNER
Howe starts off:
“The two holocausts of the 20th century both come from the Right.”
You know when some wacko insists on equating someone or something with the Shoah that they are either stupid or anti-Semitic. In Howe’s case, it’s clearly the former.
The activity Howe deems to be the equivalent of the industrialised murder of the Jewish people by the Germans (an atrocity without precedent at the time and unrivalled since, we note rather unnecessarily) is the operation of tobacco companies:
The other (Holocaust) was engineered by Western tobacco companies, brazen racketeers whose nonchalant cartel knew they traded deadly goods, but decided to kill their customers anyway.
It is an infantile and bizarre comparison which shames him, the great newspaper that employs him and the global media empire of which it is part.
It’s an insult to the Jewish people who suffered enough without having their experience compared with every damn thing that people don’t like. Alan, in our human history of tragedy there may have been many genocides, but there was one Holocaust. Many tyrants, but one Hitler. If you equate everything with that, it might rather have the effect of making people think humanity’s lowest point wasn’t so bad after all.
Alan, please do some reading and thinking before doing so much writing.
We won’t dwell on his assertion that the National Socialist German Workers Party were of “the Right” or that tobacco companies were too. The Nazis were statists who regulated everything and everyone, in between murdering those they’d put coloured stars on. Doesn’t sound very limited government right-wing to us. And were the tobacco companies all right-wingers? Probably, if that’s in any relevant to anything. Many big company executives tend to be, including at Alan Howe’s company, but more of that later.
HOWE DENOUNCES TOBACCO’S “EVIL”
Howe makes the case that smoking tobacco has been long known to be bad for you and to cause cancer in many smokers. There is now no doubt about it but – as he well knows – it was in serious dispute for a long time, clearly too long.
In his making of that argument of the obvious, he does nothing to substantiate his spectacular claim that the still entirely lawful activities of these companies ought be equated with those guilty of genocide.
We make no defence of the tobacco companies beyond saying this: if our community regards smoking tobacco as inherently dangerous and wrong then it should be banned alongside other drugs of addiction.
Until then, it is effectively classified alongside alcohol. A heavily taxed, potentially dangerous, potentially addictive, heavily regulated product that enjoys considerable popularity out of proportion with any benefits delivered. It’s a product that is now legally required to display photographs on its packaging with rotting teeth and cancerous lungs to point out the consequences of smoking. Such confronting displays at least ensure an informed choice. The government has done a lot to clamp down on smoking. But banning it?
The truth is that no government will be doing this. Not any time soon. Whether they should or not is a debate Howe seems willing to flirt with but shows some reluctance to go all the way.
HOWE CAN HE BACK DOWN NOW?
So the big question is will Alan Howe front up with some rather unpopular copy demanding that Herald Sun reader-patriots be compelled – by law – to stop smoking tobacco because they are assisting “brazen racketeers” who trade in “deadly goods” and who “decided to kill their customers anyway”.
By Howe’s logic, smokers are addicts who are puffing up for pleasure, enduring dreadful health consequences for which the whole community pays. Perhaps they should jailed like other drug addicts found in possession?
If you accept Howe’s assertions of malice aforethought, the tobacco company executives and board members are surely guilty too. They have raked in the big bucks from one of the highest-margin consumer products known to commerce. The addicts might get small sentences but surely these perfidious king-pins should get the lengthy terms of incarceration doled out to other “brazen racketeers” of “deadly goods”.
One of them would be Alan’s ultimate boss, Rupert Murdoch. He – like a number of Australians – was a prominent figure in tobacco giant Philip Morris, in Rupe’s case joining their board in 1989 and serving for a number of years on the board of the entirely lawful business that complied with the laws of the many countries in which it operated.
Howe’s stream of consciousness and inconsistent work needs to be given some close scrutiny by the new regime at the Herald Sun. His current work product is enough to make us wonder whether Alan has been smoking the strong stuff.