Actor Jeremy Irons, who created controversy over his recent remarks about gay marriage, is no fan of paternalistic nanny state policies implemented by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other politicians.
In the same interview in which he spoke about same-sex marriage, Irons called Bloomberg-initiated policies such as banning smoking in restaurants or prohibiting large sugary drinks “terrible” and “dangerous.”
Irons is a much-honored British actor who won an Academy Award for his role as Claus von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune.
Irons believes, for example, that bar owner should have the choice to allow smoking on their premises, and customers in turn can decide if they want to have a drink a bar that smells of cigarettes. The same principle should apply to what he called “fizzy drinks.” Similarly, he worries about the possibility of a government mandate that would only allow restaurants to offer meals below a certain calorie count.
Irons summarized his beliefs as follows: “I’m a complete libertarian. I think it’s very, very dangerous. I really mean that. I think the smoking ban is a tip of an iceberg of society — the leaders of society telling us how to be. I think it’s not their business. I think it is their business to tell us to care for and respect each other and each other’s happiness and each other’s health, and we are responsible enough to do that … It’s the nanny state. It is terrible.”
Irons insisted that government has non-coercive ways of discouraging people from socially-undesirable behavior but using the power of law is not the way to go. “It’s the tip of the iceberg, because it’s an attitude, it’s an attitude where the governors think ‘we know what’s best for people, and they’re so stupid that they would only not do it if we ban it.’ ”
Interestingly, according to IMDB, in the past Irons gave a lot of money to the UK Labor Party, which stands for a lot of the nanny state policies that he is now decrying.
You may also recall that among his many movie credits, Irons portrayed a high-level government official in Damage (1992) who was having a wild affair with his son’s girlfriend (Juliette Binoche).
Specifically on the subject of smoking (and apparently Irons is a smoker, which can’t help much in preserving his fantastic speaking voice), he opined that smoking tobacco suits some but not others. He also claimed that “A lot of people who are bored or unhappy smoke cigarettes; if you’re bored and unhappy, you’ll die early.”
Do you agree with Irons’ libertarian views (see video below) about the dangers of the nanny state? What is your opinion of tobacco smoking being a manifestation of boredom?