The ability to understand concepts develops with age and intelligence.  Do we all develop the ability to comprehend every concept?  Can everyone understand justice or infinity, for instance?  Are we all capable of having the same concept in mind?  Maybe concepts are like colour and sound: some people are colour blind, others tone deaf. . . .

Everyone has experienced the exasperation of explaining seemingly simple and obvious ideas, such as political, esoteric and religious beliefs, to people who seem incapable of grasping them.  Another of the concepts that bedevilled our recent spat was the meaning of “private” and “public”.  Like all advocates of draconian anticonsumer and antiproperty laws, he regards areas — be they my private office, a carpenter’s private workshop or smokers’ private club — as obviously “public”, from which he concludes that what consenting adults do there should be banned.

Read Leon Louw’s latest column Are some people blind or deaf to certain concepts? in BDlive today published by Business Day.


“Public” used to mean owned by government and accessible to the public, such as a law court, pavement or park.  That idea seemed to be beyond Saloojee’s conceptual ability, and I could not comprehend what “public” and “private” meant to him.  Could we, given enough time, communicate to each other what we have in mind?  I doubt it.

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Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said recently that all new measures should pass a socioeconomic impact assessment and the Presidency issued guidelines after a Cabinet decision mandating assessments.  In defiance of the Cabinet, the Presidency and the finance minister — and based on a twisted view that smoking is conceptually illegitimate, private property is public property, and draconian coercion is freedom — the proposal is that point of sale displays and public (ie private) place smoking be banned.