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Cheers - AE

Friday, 29 August 2008

Australian bike champ in trouble with the anti-smoking lobby

From the West Australian:
World MotoGP champion and Young Australian of the Year Casey Stoner is being named and shamed in an aggressive campaign by anti-smoking groups which have labelled him as a “high-speed drug pusher”.

A high speed drug pusher? Really? How so?
They say images of the 22-year-old non-smoker and his bike covered in logos of Marlboro cigarettes while racing and in the media are sending the wrong message to his fans, particularly impressionable young children.

Oh for Christ's sake, give me a break. Is he riding around the track selling drugs? Er, no. Is he riding around the track selling tobacco then? Nope. Does he occasionally sell tobacco standing still? Does he even have any tobacco? Well, since he's a NON-FUCKING-SMOKER I'd say that's vanishingly unlikely, so calling him a high speed drug pusher is wrong on any factual basis a rational person could use. All he's doing is wearing clothes with Marlboro on. Look, the guy just wants to race motorbikes and has a talent for doing so, but he's unlikely to have pockets deep enough to self-finance racing so he has corporate sponsorship. Motorbikes can be dangerous but I notice none of these Helen Lovejoys are having a pop at Ducati or calling for him to ride slowly in case children (oh won't someone think of the children) are influenced to pedal their bicycles too fast. Hmmm... actually give it time and they probably will do just that, and perhaps even demand that he changes his name because it's exactly the same as a nickname for someone who smokes a lot of pot.

I'm glad to see that Casey Stoner himself doesn't agree, and in fact his response I find worthy of admiration:
But in an emailed response to the anti-smoking groups a week ago, Stoner said that while he understood their views and as a non-smoker agreed that children should not smoke, he did not believe Philip Morris’ sponsorship of Ducati was about attracting children to smoking.

“At the same time I firmly believe that every adult human being should retain the right to make his or her own decisions in life, whether correct or not,” he said.

If I was a woman I'd want his babies for that remark. As a bloke I'm just slightly jealous that he seems to be a wiser man than I was when I was 22. Every adult human should indeed retain the right to make his or her own decisions in life, and they themselves would also bear the responsibility for making poor decisions from time to time. It's called freedom ASH and Smarter than Smoking - a word you may need to look up in the dictionary as I'm not sure how familiar you are with it. While you're about it let me remind you that, as pointed out in the West Australian, tobacco advertising and sponsorship is banned here in Australia despite being a product that is still legal to buy, sell and use, and your complaints that
...images featuring him plastered in tobacco logos in other countries are still readily seen in the media and on websites...
come close to demanding web and media censorship. Even though I am a smoker myself I concede that it's an unpleasant and anti-social habit (and for that reason I don't do it where I'm asked not to) and I probably should give it up. But I find censorship, ridiculous emotionally laden accusations and the desire to control other people's lives a far more disgusting habit than smoking. Oh, and this authoritarian control freakery of ASH and Smarter than Smoking has wound me up so much that I had to smoke a fag to help me restrain the urge to punch my laptop screen. That's a cigarette I wouldn't have smoked but for your evil influence, so sleep sound tonight in the knowledge that you've pushed me a little closer to a tar soaked grave, you bastards. Oh, does that sound ridiculous? Accusing you of influencing me to smoke? Well, yes, it's a fucking stupid thing to say, but no more so than saying that Casey Stoner is a high speed drug pusher.

My opinions, for what they're worth, are that four wheels are better than two, bike racing doesn't flick my switch, if I was into bikes I'd probably have a Honda, and Marlboro are shit fags, and in fact if Marlboro were the last cigarettes I could buy I really would give up smoking. Casey Stoner isn't going to change my mind by winning races on a Marlboro sponsored Ducati motorbike. Yes, I'm in my 30s and children might be more easily influenced, but the spectacular thing about bike racing is hurtling round a track faster than anyone else. Kids will be way too busy going wow at that to give a shit what's written across Casey Stoner's shirt.
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