Author: Gian Turci
Article Published: 7 February 2008
I often come across writings by people on our side who are utterly astonished by the contradictions of the "antis" – ban proponents who say they are "liberal" or "progressive" and, in the same breath, show utter contempt for the treatment smokers are the victims of. Some of the activists on our side also get involved in endless polemics on how much of the "reasonable smoking restrictions" is "reasonable" and how much is not – and, by the time they are through, they find themselves banned from everywhere!
There is a big difference between a healthy divergence of opinions that leads to constructive actions, which is useful, and squabbling, which is not. Squabbling and frustration are the order of the day on the smoking issue. This stems from something that is lurking amongst us defenders of freedom and the antis alike — something that we really have to understand in order to get rid of it: confusion.
We live in an era of confusion: ideological confusion, moral confusion, confusion of principles. Thus half-baked statements abound, very often on the lines of a desire to be half pregnant.
I know of a lot of antis — and some of them have nothing to do with Big Pharma — who are absolutely confused. Amongst them there are even people of a certain general stature. They advocate smoking bans and hatred of smokers. Then they condemn the extremes that they themselves instigate. Not all of them are consciously of bad faith. They are mixed-up.
Many of those confused people really believe that smokers are "sick", and that they need "help". That is because they have embraced the Healthist ideology that expresses morality and happines in terms of physical health (or the illusion of it), and health itself in years of life expectancy. They want the simple-minded and evil ideology but they want it “up to a certain point." That is craziness on top of craziness.
Some of them advocate the "tough love" approach. Many worship or are beholden to Big Pharma but others are not and these may advocate a "help yourself (to quit)" approach. They cannot prove the causality of smoking, not even for one death, but they love and trust the fantastic computer projections on millions of “deaths” and the “smoking-is-the-largest-single-cause-of-preventable-death” routine. They simply do not hesitate to parrot about millions of “deaths” when they can't even prove the causality of one. They simply do not analyse, or think critically, or independently. This is intellectual dishonesty. It is also confusion.
Others have a conflicting perception of the “cure," wanting "tough love" and a "sweet approach" at the same time. Others — still more confused — say that smoking is a right, but a right that smokers must be persuaded not to use. The persuasion is smoking bans, false information, scares, and persecution. Thus smokers have human rights but the rights of anti-smokers to degrade and trample on smokers' rights in all places and every situation are divine rights. To these barmy theorists Orwell's image of "a boot stomping on a human face — forever" is the right and just model for society. They don't think they're evil but this is really what they are saying.
That is because they are so confused that they don't understand that rights are absolute. Either you have a right or you don't. There are no better and lesser humans and no better and lesser rights. Rights are not gradable, measurable in size, or subject to limitations. They are equal. They are not indulgences to be granted or withdrawn, willy-nilly, by tyrants overseeing pigs.
If you have the right to be gay, you have the right to gay clubs, gay bars, not just your gay bedroom, and you have a right to your dignity. If you have the right to your religious beliefs, you don't enjoy that right only in churches, you can live your beliefs in your daily life. By the same token, if smoking is a right, it cannot be exercised only in ever-shrinking areas such as your home, or smoking booths, or pig pens. The smokers’ “rights” groups that accept “reasonable restrictions on smoking” while stating that smoking is a right display the same confusion as does the petty tyrant.
When all these confused and intellectually retarded “anti” people (which try to measure and reduce everything to numbers, rights included!) are faced with two conflicting rights, they literally short circuit and try to rank the unrankable over and over again, trying to reconcile the unreconcilable, with circular insanity.
Along these lines I think of a contemptuous statement by Bruno Comby in this France 24 Debate (English) programme, when he says, seven minutes into the show, that "Of course you are free to smoke ... you can do what you want when you are alone in your bedroom." This comes from the John Banzhaf book as cribbed from the original Nazis (who equated smoking to "masturbation of the lungs.")
Comby also tells us he likes to dance in public (something banned as obscene, in case he didn't know, in other puritanical societies) and also enjoys a drink — water or orange juice for this swinger — in a smoke-free bar. Therefore no other type of bar may exist anywhere for anyone. I only hope I run into this dancing fool in a Paris bar one day. I have a definite urge to blow illegal smoke into his anemic face.
Back to the point, those are the very same limited minds that are unable to understand that rights, as such, must coexist unalienated, and that it is the precise job of the state — the safekeeper of all those rights by definition — to make sure that they coexist peacefully through regulation that respects the rights of all. Regulation does not mean social and cultural engineering. It means the preservation of the culture and civility by preventing divisive social engineering.
So those who say that "smokers have the right to smoke, but not in public places" should go back to school and learn property of terms. These folks — in good or bad faith — confuse the concept of rights with that of indulgences. More than incidentally, the "you can still smoke over there" hedge, has been hedged to a stump.
The bastards never stop banning. The through-and-through ones know this and know that citing remaining smokers' rights is a cynical ploy. Others actually convince themselves, for a moment here and there, that they are through. They never are, though. Smoking is being banned outdoors and in the confines of one's home. Savage penalty for possession of tobacco is where we are headed unless this is forcibly stopped very soon. If you think otherwise you too are confused.
So it goes. We find "half-pregnant" antis and "half-pregnant" pro-smoking/pro-choice people all over the place. Short visions, small brains, ignorance, and confusion account for this. History has seen no deficit of foolish eras because there has never been a deficit of foolish people. Too often they become empowered. When they do they must be forcibly subdued.
Sorting out intellectual confusion must become a priority in the pro-choice movement for an antismoking-free future. We must cease launching conflicting messages. One cannot be X% in favour of a ban and Y% against it, for example. One is either against, or for. One cannot say "Smoking is bad, BUT...". Smoking is an exquisite pleasure. One can choose to partake or not. Choice is precious. Pro-smoking groups that say "smoking is bad, but" contradict themselves and confuse the public. Every citizen has always been free to smoke or not. That is as it should be and as it must be.
Queasy messages are useless and foolish and only sow more foolishness. High-ranking antismoking zealots made their message of fear and hate very clear a long time ago. This is a big part of their atrocious success. Let us be clear. Contemporary antismoking is evil. Either you are an antismoking Nazi or you are not. The half-way (AKA "moderate") views, in such circumstances, are as silly as having expected the German SS to stop halfway in their racial eugenics, or suggesting the Allies should have pushed the Nazis back into Germany — but not invade the nation out of respect for national sovereignty!
That "moderate" position itself stems from confusion – specifically, that concerning the definition of compromise.
"Compromise" does not mean "meeting half way," but a fair negotiated resolution between two conflicting and roughly equivalent forces, taken in the interests of peace and constructiveness, so that both opposing forces are allowed to grow while coexisting. That is utterly impossible in the tobacco wars. Compromise is as unthinkable to fanatic Healthist ideologues as a compromise with the Jews would have been to the Nazi ideologues. The concept of compromise is unintelligible to the soldiers of mad ideology. They seek to destroy. They must be destroyed. The conditions for reasoned compromise currently do not exist.
- Due to the fragmentation of our movement, the opposing forces are NOT equivalent. The antismoking forces are much greater, thanks to immense public and pharmaceutical budgets, and to the diabolical perseverance of our side to bring forward just the rights issue rather than concentrating on the fraudulent epidemiology that is the base excuse of Healthist ideology.
- There is therefore no interest by our opposition to negotiate a "halfway" solution. Why have just half of the cake when you can have it all?
- The Healthist ideology fundamentally does not accept compromise in the first place, thus it will either destroy the forces of choice, or those forces will have to destroy it. However, the consolidation of a force on our side along the lines of a sort of social M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) can lead to the defeat of the extremists in the opposing field by their own more moderate (and confused) comrades, and open the road to a possible compromise. That presupposes effective consolidation, unification, and funding on our side.
If we want clear followers (and clear enemies that are easy to spot) we better have clear ideas ourselves — with no more: "smoking is bad, but..."; or: "I agree with X% of the ban". Freedom is good and bans are bad. Period. Our own principled clarity will help some of the confused antis to make a decision as well … and climb over to our side of the fence!