Further to my post of yesterday re. The Lancet editorial (which called for tobacco to be made illegal); it seems that some other folks have similarly noticed the bizarrity in such a view. Today’s Times, for instance, in its leading article, makes the following statement: “A ban [on smoking] would defy the principle that has informed English law since it was first formulated by John Stuart Mill: that you should be free to do whatever you wish, as long as by doing so you do not harm others or impinge on your neighbours’ freedom.” HALLELUJAH!! There’s somebody else in the United Kingdom who agrees with me! They even mentioned Mill!

But this statement raises a couple of interesting questions which I plan to put to The Times this week. What they are advocating is a libertarian persuasion of law (which I believe to be the most moral political philosophy). But does TAX not also impinge on freedom? Does a ban on drugs like cocaine not also impinge on freedom? Does the NHS (National Health Service for those American readers among us!) not also impinge on freedom, since it eridicates any choice of healthcare provider and forceably takes its funding from the pockets of all taxpayers, whether they will it or not?

The Times has excited me today by printing this leader. It would be wonderful if they did believe the above (and in fact such a view would correlate entirely with the personal views of its owner Rupert Murdoch, CEO of The Times’ parent company, New Corp.). But I’m not too sure if, when applied to other areas of the role of government, the newspaper would stand by the principal favoured in this editorial today. If it did, it would be labelled as extreme.

But here’s hoping.