Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nasal NIMBY Graham Webb-Lee Plays the Islam Card

It’s come to this. A guy in the Stockport suburb of Manchester, England, lives for years next door to a take-out sandwich shop. New owners take over the business three years ago and replace the exhaust fan over their grill. Now the neighbor decides he doesn’t like the smell. He complains to the town’s environmental services department which makes repeated visits and finds no violation. 

But Mr. Graham Webb-Lee is not to be deterred. He complains to the town council that the new owners failed to get a planning permit when they replaced the exhaust fan. The council tells the shop owners that since an objection has been raised they must apply for a retroactive planning permit. The item is placed on the agenda for the October 14 meeting:
A retrospective Planning application (DC044716) for the retention of extraction vent to front of shop at 159 Adswood Road, Cale Green - recommendation grant.
Uh-oh! It looks like the council is set to approve the shop’s retroactive permit. So what does Webb-Lee do? He shows up at the meeting with a litany of complaints: the shop’s odor makes his clothes smell bad, his daughter has an eating disorder [?!], and 
“The vent is 12 inches from my front door. Every morning the smell of bacon comes through and makes me physically sick.”
Perhaps feeling that he isn’t making sufficient headway with the council members, he decides to play his ace:
“I have a lot of Muslim friends. They refuse to visit me anymore because they can’t stand the smell of bacon.”
That’s all the politically correct members of the Central Stockport Area Council Committee need to hear. Offend Muslim olfactory sensibilities? No way. They vote to force the cafe owner to remove the exhaust fan.

The owner is outraged—and baffled. She and her husband are Turkish; her husband is Muslim. The presence of cooking bacon doesn’t seem to be a problem for their Muslim friends who visit the shop all the time and even eat there.

This is a truly remarkable case of Nasal NIMBYism: it takes self-centered whining about food smells to a whole new level. Graham Webb-Lee actually plays the Islamic intolerance card against a pair of tolerant Muslims and wins. Beverley Akciecek and her husband Cetin support their seven kids by working in a sandwich shop 50 hours a week. They do so in part by cooking bacon for bacon-eaters. Now their livelihood is threatened by a smell-o-phobic douchebag and his cringing enablers on the town council.

Take a few minutes and browse the Stockport town website. It’s like Berkeley on the moors. Be sure to check out the 2009 annual Diversity and Equality Report. You’ll find that 40% of Council employees “have attended bespoke Diversity Awareness or Managing Inclusion training,” and that the town celebrates diversity, holds anti-bullying conferences, and observes Black History Month, Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Month.

That leaves a lot of space on the official Stockport calendar. How about designating Support for Immigrant Entrepreneurs Month? Or Defending Western Liberal Traditions Against Creeping Dhimmitude Month?

That might be too much to ask from this crowd.


Katy Josephine said...

You had me at smell-o-phobic douchebag. Everything after that is a blur.

I'll be trolling to use it in a sentence soon. Perhaps the next time my husband comments when I fart in bed...

Phlox said...

I had to re-read the part where he mentioned it was his FRONT door (and not his bedroom or bathroom or something). Just crazy...

Sooner or later we won't remember what smells actually smell like, and IFF will make a killing making imitation bacon that seems like a hologram of the real thing. Thanks, nasal NIMBYs.

Elena said...

I heard similar complaints from people who live above a Lush shop. They said : i'm eating Parma ham and it fells like I'm eationg a huge flower petal!!!
But they didn't take it to the authorities.
I think commonsense and tolerance are required. I used to live above some very nice people from the Philippines, but I couldn't stand the smell of a fishy and spicy dish they cooked every sunday. Of course, I didn't say anything. When the smell bothered me, I just used a room spray.

Charna said...

Obviously this man is insane as everyone knows the smell of bacon cooking is DIVINE! There are far worse aromas we must tolerate daily than the scent of a little delicious smoked meat. Please!
Love reading your posts. Always informative and thought provoking. Thank you

+ Q Perfume Blog said...

Hummm...Muslims friends coming to a place where they serve bacon??? I don't think so.

By the all smells like horse shit.
Wait, is horse shit kosher?
I am Jewish and I can't live with non kosher, non parve smells. hahahahahah!

Avery Gilbert said...


It's a useful comeback, but don't you think he's already suffered enough?

Avery Gilbert said...


Good point. And what about the timing? The cafe cooks bacon in the morning. Does Graham Webb-Lee entertain all his Muslim friends at 8:00 a.m.?

Avery Gilbert said...


The progressives in Stockport, England no doubt want us to live in environmentally responsible high-density urban housing to reduce our carbon footprint. Yet apartment living requires tolerance of the sight, sound and smell of other people. How square that with politically correct NIMBYism? "This is a smoke-free, bacon-free, 24/7 quiet zone building"?

Avery Gilbert said...


Spoken like a true bacon fan.

Although I don't think there's anything wrong with scrapple.

Avery Gilbert said...

+Q Perfume:

I wonder if there is Talmudic commentary on whether non-kosher smells are acceptable.

+ Q Perfume Blog said...

Literally, “spiced oil”. It was very common in both Biblical (See (Devarim 28:40, Shmuel II 14:2, Yechezkel 16:9, Micha 6:15, Tehillim 104:15, Tehillim 141:5, Rut 3:3) and Talmudic times to use oil as a cosmetic and rub it on the head and the limbs, whether after bath or just because. Oil used in this way was usually olive oil scented with various spices, especially balsam (אפרסמון in Aramaic, See Talmud Bavli, Berachot 43a). It was made by soaking a stick of balsam tree in olive oil for a long time until the oil absorbed the smell of the balsam. See Meiri, Bet Habechira, Berachot 43b, Shemen Aparsamon. Nowadays it is still common to see Arabs using perfumed oil in this way. I have seen them rub it on the head, neck and arms, myself here in Israel. Perfumed oil was kept in jars or vials (not boxes) made of alabaster. See International Standard Bible Encyclopedia of 1915 (entry Ointment).