If like me you have been away, or extremely busy recently, you may have missed the fact that anti-smoking ban pub landlord Nick Hogan has been sent to prison, but has now been released. He wasn't imprisoned for breaching the smoking ban, but for non payment of fines in relation to breaches of the smoking ban in his pub. On many blogs he has become something of a cause celebre.
I don't accept that his actions are a great blow for libertarianism even though I heartily oppose the smoking ban, though no longer smoke. If I ignored every law I oppose I would have spent most of the last thirty years in Strangeways. What we all need to do is to campaign and fight against all those things that we find oppressive. There are issues that require civil disobedience but first we have to garner the support of the general population. The general population see those who stood in front of tanks in Tiananmen Square as heroes, somebody going to prison over the smoking ban they are more likely to see as a clown.
If real progress is to be made then libertarianism has to be seen as a credible philosophy. Too many people see libertarians as a group of people who just want to scrap laws so they can do what the hell they want and stuff everybody else, legalising drugs being the easiest thing to beat us with. I don't want to get bogged down in the drugs issue but I'm sure any libertarian knows the arguments back to front.
Supporting somebody over an issue such as the smoking ban, which is even supported by many smokers now, is picking the wrong fight at the wrong time. In a nutshell very few people give a shit. We can either tilt at windmills or we can fight a savvy and credible political war. Supporting Nick Hogan is clearly tilting at windmills.
What it really comes down to is a choice between libertarians posturing and posing on the internet for the next however many years, or building credibility, getting people to vote for them and getting people elected then making a real change. Supporting somebody who stamps his feet and throws a tantrum because he hasn't got what he wants invites ridicule and ultimate failure.