The New Age of Intolerance.
Tuesday, July 4th, 2006. 2:54AM
Has anyone else noticed that there's one minority group in our society today that controls most of the money? That almost has a monopoly in Hollywood, and other artistic circles? Whose cultural dominance is so wide reaching that their primary traditions that become inextricably associated with opulence, creativity, and being cool? Sure, there are lots of them in all walks of life. Plenty make up the working classes, but it is only in the upper echelons of business and in artistic circles that they form a majority rather than a minority.
In recent years this minority has become increasingly vilified in the media as unhealthy and disgusting. Their traditions are ridiculed in schools to generations of students, leading to fewer and fewer young people choosing to actively peruse their traditional lifestyle. Existing members are placed under pressure from massive "public awareness" campaigns orchestrated both by government and vocal pressure groups to give up their way of life, leading to widespread self-loathing amongst this vibrant community community.
Legislation over the past decade has increasingly targeted their principal ceremony, firstly establishing a dual system, akin to apartheid, where this minority group was forced into separate dinning rooms, hotel rooms, and plane cabins to undertake their ritual. They are often ostracised in their workplaces, forced out into laneways and secluded fire hose alcoves, lest their rituals offend passers by. More recent legislative moves have been toward banning their way of life completely, forbidding them to practice in all government buildings, then all workplaces, restaurants, and more recently even restricting outdoor public places, like certain areas of sidewalks and public transport stops to this minority.
I’m talking, of course, about smokers.
I live in Victoria, Australia, where it is already illegal to smoke in restaurants, offices (including within immediate proximity of office entrances), any covered area of a bus, train or tram stop, and come July 2007, in all Victorian buildings except private homes. There is a process for gaining exemptions of course, and two have notably been granted: the high rollers room at the casino and the prison system. The Daily Planet (the Southern Hemisphere’s largest licensed brothel), was refused, as were all of the state’s cigar bars, a hookah bar, and of course the Cigar Appreciation Society was denied the ability to smoke at their annual dinner. A system of licensed smoking venues, similar to the licensing system for alcohol, which would create some unlicensed bars that non-smokers could enjoy, and non-smoking members of the hospitality industry could work in without suffering the blight of second hand smoke was rejected.
This latest salvo was accompanied by the “Graphic Health Warnings” campaign, which saw positively stomach turning images of amputated gangrenous feet occupying at least 30% of the front and 90% of the back of every cigarette pack, as well as an accompanying television campaign (in which a ‘surgeon’ explains that smoking poisons your blood and kills every inch of a man). The images are far too graphic for me to post on this site myself, but I offer this rare external link to anyone interested in being revolted.
I do not mean in this article to contend the health risks of smoking, as I lack the resources to endeavour to disprove what I can only assume is a wealth of empirical studies to the contrary. Perhaps smoking will give me gangrene. Perhaps it will clog my veins and lead to stroke. But right now I’m a young man, with a fit body, and the taste of a fine Cuban cigar is hell delicious, that little smoke ring I blow at that young lady sure makes me look cool, and the nicotine hitting my brain gives me one hell of a buzz. Personally, I have more faith in medical science’s ability to find a cure for cancer and gangrene; their ability to pump my blood full of stem cells to repair those damaged arteries, than I have in a little bit of plant’s ability to kill me. Some people say that God gave us flowers and little babies: I say he gave us tobacco and stem cells, and he did it for a reason.
No, my point here is that it has to end.
Let’s call it what it is, readers: persecution. It’s time to take a stand. It’s time to end the intolerance. Our governments have been allowed to victimise a minority who have been so brainwashed by the propaganda campaign against them that they refused to defend themselves. Today society has ruled that it is okay to stop smokers from participating in mainstream social recreation (and private, smokers-only recreation). What will we say tomorrow when our government implements a final solution to the smoking problem?
I leave you, good readers, with two visions of the future. It’s up to you which you choose.