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Cheers - AE

Friday, 17 December 2010

Denormalisation and the march of hatred.

Over at Leg-iron's there's a post on discrimination in which he says:
"You cannot, so far, tell who we are unless we're actually smoking but that's going to change. We will be made identifiable. Third hand smoke will be the excuse."
Which prompted me to write in the comments,
Perhaps some sort of yellow star motif? It'll make aiming easier when the time comes...
I don't say that lightly since I have Jewish neighbours that I like and respect, and obviously what's going on has yet to reach Shoah proportions (and we should all very much hope that it never does) but all the same the parallels are disturbing. While some may be prepared to live and let live those who believe they are in the right - the Righteous, to use Leg-iron's expression - make no room, sometimes literally no room, for those who disagree.

Not "Smoking is not allowed". It's actual smokers who are not allowed

And it doesn't stop there either. Smokers can be discriminated against when it comes to employment etc. too (see here, here, here and, from the US, this), all of which, it has been decided, is perfectly legal. Note again that like the sign above it is not merely the activity which is banned but the people who do it. Look at the sign again. Now look at this one.

See? Unwanted activities are being prohibited, but the implication is that the people who skateboard, ride bicycles or go rollerblading are okay to be there as long as they don't do those activities. The first sign says no smokers, full stop, end of discussion. No credit is given for being a smoker who is currently not smoking and for all anyone knows will refrain from lighting up until they're elsewhere. The message is aimed at the people, not their pastime. Smoker? Sod off.

Now it might be suggested that in fact this is just exercising property rights and that property owners are entitled not only to prohibit smoking - as I do in my home, being an ex-smoker* - but also to make smokers themselves unwelcome. It might also be suggested that an employer should be able to hire whoever the hell they like without being under any obligation to justify that decision. And since I'm all for the freedom to make personal choices I'd tend to agree with both, except for two sticking points. First, the reverse does not apply - you are not allowed to discriminate in favour of smokers and you have no say in this, property rights notwithstanding. You may own your business premises lock, stock and barrel but you may not encourage all the smokers driven from other establishments to come to your place to smoke and spend to their hearts' content. You have no choice and no rights over your property in regards to smoking. None at all. If you don't want smokers you may think you're free to choose but this is just an illusion brought about by the fact that your wishes and those of the Righteous are aligned on this point. Just wait, they'll get around to something you do do or are in favour of sooner or later.

Second, any other kind of discrimination against a group probably would be illegal. Remember the No Blacks, No Irish signs? I don't. They went in my infancy, if not before. And before anyone suggests that smoking is a choice whereas you can't help your skin colour or nation of birth please bear in mind that religion is also a choice and you can't discriminate against that either. Don't believe me? Go put a job ad up and include something saying Muslims, Jews and Hindus need not apply and see what happens. Go on, I'll wait while you get a pen ..... oh, you'll be fined, will you? Breaking the law, is it? But you might conceivably want to put something like that if the position was for a slaughterman and you didn't want anyone who might refuse to deal with pigs or cows on religious grounds (though my advice would be simply to state "must be willing to slaughter and butcher all kinds of livestock"), and the fact is you can't. Smoking though, well, it seems you can put "Smokers Need Not Apply" and that's just fine, even though religion and how seriously to take it is as much a personal choice as smoking. Any way you choose to look at it smokers are a special case in that they, and not simply the activity of smoking, can be targets for discrimination that is largely unacceptable if not illegal in most other areas of life.

And it's not just the legal treatment that sets them aside. Look at the hate and bile being spat at smokers these days. Dick Puddlecote has a nice collection going, and here are a few examples (spelling left as the DP found it):
...let's have free loaded pistols for use by these smokers there too so that they can end their pathetic lives...

[Smokers] have the right to die. That's it.

Pubs ... can certainly survive without smokers. I hope the cold winter kills a few more off in fact

Smokers need to have the words, STUPID IDIOT across their foreheads!
Yellow star! Yellow star! You just need to cross out "Jude" first.
SMOKERS, PLEASE die from diseases from cigarettes sooner rather than later, so there will be less of you around, stinking up every place you go.

You are second-class citizens. If you don't like it, move. I don't want you here anyway.

We should do them a favor and give them a quick clean bullet through the head.

I want all smoker dead, but especially morning smokers and any one who smokes on campus. DIE!!

Smokers scum of the Earth, a cull next.

They deserve to be robbed.

I have always looked down at the “filth” or brown fingered,brown teethed lower classes that smoke.

I’ve hated smokers for many years and I am almost positive that one day, I will successfully kill someone who smokes. I encourage any non-smokers who are reading this to go out and kick the shit out of smokers.

If a person is caught smoking, he or she should be shot on sight. The world would be a better place!
Doesn't this sound at all familiar? A few decades ago in Germany certain groups, Jewish people amongst them, were first denormalised and demonised, then ultimately dehumanised. Untermenschen, they were called - subhumans - and what was said about them fits in so well with the comments quoted above (and incidentally, Dick Puddlecote has links to all of these comments - they're quite real).

Early 1938 sign. Translation: "Jews not wanted
in Behringersdorf." Sound at all familiar? 
Get out of here! Go away! Leave! Leave us!
You are second-class citizens. If you don't like it, move. I don't want you here anyway.
You're filthy! You're scum! You disgust us!
I have always looked down at the “filth” or brown fingered,brown teethed lower classes that smoke.

They deserve to be robbed.

We hate you! Go and die, will you? Why can't you go away and just die?! 
SMOKERS, PLEASE die ... sooner rather than later, so there will be less of you around, stinking up every place you go.

... I hope the cold winter kills a few more off in fact

[Smokers] have the right to die. That's it.
Just die! Die! DIE!!
... a cull next..... shot on sight..... a quick clean bullet .....want all smoker dead.....
one day, I will successfully kill someone who smokes... 
It's not just legislative attacks specifically targeting them that they need to worry about, but also this foaming hatred whipped up by the constant process of denormalising, demonising and dehumanising smokers. What should give all of us pause for thought is that if you change just the last word of that sentence to Slavs or Jews or Poles it could have come from a history book on the 1930s, and if those times are any guide we haven't seen the end of this. Wikipedia notes that "The Holocaust was accomplished in stages. Legislation to remove the Jews from civil society was enacted years before the outbreak of World War II." Follow that link and you see what kind of legislation we're talking about. A ban on Jews marrying non-Jews, for example. Not a million miles off the ban on smokers being foster parents that I linked to in the fourth paragraph, I'd suggest. Even if you accept the passive smoking argument - and let's not even get into the lunacy of 2+Nth hand smoke - the ban is once again not on the activity but on the person. Smokers, not smoking. There were laws on the employment of Jews - they were banned from the Civil Service, for example - and Jews employing non-Jews, just in case it rubbed off and sullied a Nazi or something, and in the same para I linked to an article on legal EU approved discrimination of smokers, again the people rather than the act of smoking. And why, given that smoking is already banned in the workplace, and indeed could always have been banned by business owners if they chose? Because, according to the firm concerned, not only might they take a smoke break (seems prejudicial) but even if they don't they will smell and get ill, and they must be stupid - no more evidence being required for that last half-formed thought than that they chose to continue smoking.
“I would consider smoking as interfering with standards. I’m talking about smoking breaks but not only that - their smell, their intelligence, their illnesses are all factors. That’s why the line was there. Smokers will not be employed, so there is no point in coming for an interview.”

Interviewed on an Irish radio station, Tobin added that anyone who could continue to smoke despite health warnings was obviously not intelligent enough to work for his company. But smokers’ groups have reacted angrily, accusing him of “health fascism”.
I'd certainly call it fascism when even ASH - ASH, for Christ's sake - thought that was going a bit far.
Ian Willmore, a spokesman for anti-smoking group Ash, believes refusing to employ smokers is "thoroughly bad public policy".

He said: "We are not interested in discriminating against people because they are smokers. We are interested in helping them quit. Our advice to employers would be not to do that unless there is a clear occupational reason why smoking is not possible.

"We are not an organisation that exists to persecute smokers. We are an organisation that exists to reduce the amount of harm that smoking does." But he added that encouraging employees to quit could cut days lost to sickness and boost productivity.
It's sort of nice to know you've got limits, Ian, but you or people like you let the djinni out of the bottle. Don't expect me not to tar you with the fascist brush - or should it be fASHist? - as well just because someone even more hate-filled has appeared. Especially not after that little apologia at the end.

And fascism really does seem the appropriate word when anti-smokers have their Nuremburg laws to bash smokers with and show every sign of continuing to add to them. It's progressed to special treatment of tobacco as a good so as to further inconvenience smokers - in some places (at least one state in Australia, and no doubt others before long) tobacco must be kept behind closed doors or hidden out of sight under the counter, and plain packaging has been mooted. This makes no difference at all to non-smokers. Why should I care what colour the packet is or whether I can see it? But it makes the smoker's life just a little bit more difficult since he's unable to glance at the shelves and see if his preferred brand is in stock. Now he must queue up and ask, wasting his time if they're not in stock. But fuck him, he's just a stinking smoker, right, eh, ASH? His time isn't important to any real people. Why not just beat him up, smash his windows and take his property? Why not round them all up and keep them away from decent people? Who honestly gives a rip?

I'll tell you who: me. I care. Even though I stopped smoking a while ago now I care, and I oppose the continued official harassment, legalised bullying and discrimination, and the anonymous threats that they suffer.

Not. In. My. Name. Mother-fuckers.

I don't like the smoke anymore but if it's blowing in my face it's not hard to take a step or two to avoid it. And even that's indoors only. Outside the smoke disperses so quickly in all but the lightest breeze that it's a non-issue, and in the lightest breezes or very still air it tends to go straight up. I can only get hit with smoke outdoors if someone actually blows it in my face, and this has never happened even once since I quit. Nor did I ever do it to anyone in the years I smoked. Yes, you can still get the smell, and like a lot of non-smokers I don't like it much either, but for Christ's sake it's just a smell. I've smelt worse farts. I've smelt worse BO. I've smelt more overpowering perfume. I will not take part in or condone the persecution others because of an odour, and I will carry on speaking up for those who wish to smoke. And there's a reason for that, a very simple one.

The march of hatred is moving on, and it's only a matter of time before they come to me. I ducked their hatred once when I quit smoking (for reasons of my own) but by then attention had already turned to drink. As it happened I barely drank anyway and have gradually become a non-drinker too, so I've ducked it again a second time. However, I cannot keep this up. I am not politically correct by nature; I could do with losing a few kilos; I'm for shooters' rights and would support gun ownership for defence; I like to put lots of salt on my food; I eat meat and I'm prepared to catch it and kill it myself if push came to shove; I don't believe in global warming; I'm in favour of individual liberty (subject to the Non-Aggression Principle), including the freedom to say something I find utterly vile and repulsive, such as many of the quotes in this post. I could go on but the bottom line is this - the bastards will find something about me to hate sooner or later. The Nazis had been obsessed with Jews for many years, arguably decades if you count the anti-semitism of the Völkisch movement from which the Nazis took many ideas, but we all know it didn't stop there. Niemöller had it dead right, because by the end - long before the end, in fact - the Nazis were gunning for absolutely anyone who didn't fit their ideals. That meant Communists, homosexuals, Freemasons, gypsies, Slavs and many eastern Europeans, a whole lot of Soviet POWs, and many physically and mentally disabled people (to say nothing of anyone who simply opposed any of this). Their march of hatred carried on until finally they were stopped, but the price was bitterly high. The twenty-first century march of hatred has not been stopped, and if moves to further restrict the liberty of smokers even outdoors is any guide I'd say that if anything it seems to be gathering pace.** I mean, go read that. Just go have a quick read. We're lucky to have the climate for a café culture at least part of the year here, though not so much this year with all the rain we've had, and having driven the smokers outside many places began putting tables and chairs out for them. Not all were able to do this - pavements have to be wide enough, for example, pubs might need a beer garden - but I think most of those who could did so. I'm sure some made it non-smoking outdoors too but that was their choice, and the smokers would be able to find other places. Not any more. They must now be driven away altogether, even though groups of smokers outside are a big part of the reason some places have an outdoor area in the first place. As one Melbourne smoker from Carlton by the name of Yooblues put it:
I stand outside in freezing conditions or in the rain
I cross the street when I see a mother with a pram
I stand downwind from any group
I go outside at the footy
I don't smoke in my car
I put up with the little "cough cough" innuendos and disparaging looks from the health nutters
I keep every butt and dispose of it thoughtfully
I pick the downwind table outside restaurants
I don't charge you for second hand smoke that cost me a fortune to imbibe first hand
Now RACK OFF and leave me alone!
First offence? You'll probably
get away with crucifixion
Poor bastard.

I don't know what the bansturbators will eventually come and get me for, but I know they will come and I can even see some of them already. Being a bit fat is already in the spot searchlights and gun bannery has been going on for a century, but there's my proud climate heresy as well. If I'm lucky I might only be executed by controlled explosion for that, but since my heresy goes back a way it could mean some people will seize my property and either leave me in a desert or throw me into bear infested freezing Arctic waters, all the while torturing me with their cheerful brand of amateur close harmony singing. Thanks, but I'd rather be over-enthusiastically resuscitated by a sixty a day smoker of re-made rollies.

The time has come for reasonable people to stop taking in the bullshit about twenty-third hand smoke, draw a line on the ground behind themselves and tell the Righteous in a firm voice that this is where it stops and now is when it ends - we stand with the smokers, and we stand with the drinkers, and we stand with the salad dodgers, and we stand with the gun owners, and the ones who like a spliff and the ones who like a bet and the ones who who like to play shoot-'em-up video games, even though we ourselves might not do any of those things. In fact, we must say, we stand with all who do not meet your ideals or accept your dogma, because eventually that group includes more or less everybody.
We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
Benjamin Franklin
I stand with the smokers even though I don't smoke because they do me no harm and I enjoy the company of several smokers. But I should stand with the smokers anyway out of pure self-interest because, as Niemöller pointed out, if I don't there will be nobody to stand with me when it's my turn.

* I may be an ex-smoker but I am certainly not a reformed smoker, and if someone came here and suggested I am I shall push them down the stairs. "Reformed" implies I feel guilt for smoking in the past and I don't. Not a bit of it. It was something I used to do but eventually stopped, that's all. If only those absolutely addicted to bansturbation would do the same.

**Oh yes, that's our wonderful new Liberal In Name Only Victorian state government for you - I knew the bastards wouldn't take long before showing how ilLiberal they really are. Hey, that makes "LINOs". That's a keeper for the blog tag collection. It's just a shame you have to be loaded before you can walk on them.
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