From the Emerald Isle, Grandad writes:
The more I think about t the more obvious it becomes that the Anti-Smokers are actually following a religion. They have a blind faith in their teachings, but when those teachings are questioned they are at a loss for an answer. An uncomfortable question must be sidetracked and steered back to safe territory where they can start back into their mantras.
If one of their sacred prayers is questioned the response is usually along the lines of “we all know that blah blah is the truth” [which we don’t] or “countless studies have shown blah blah”. In the interview, Clancy was told unequivocally that his claim of smokers costing the health services billions was a load of bollox and he was given the figures [nice one, John!] where the gubmint makes 1.2 billion a year from smokers, yet they only cost the health service 550 million. This, as far as Clancy was concerned was heresy as it contradicted everything he had been taught. His answer incidentally was that we have to take into account loss of working hours [not a cost to the state] and the “hundreds of thousands [?] out on disability”.
I saw a thing recently on the Tobacco Control website. They state quite categorically that “The cigarette is the deadliest artefact in the history of human civilisation.” This is not stated as an opinion, it is stated as incontrovertible truth in a pseudo-scientific paper and is therefore equivalent to the Pope preaching ex cathedra. It brooks no argument despite being laughably false. Have they not heard of nerve gas? Are they totally unaware of guns? Has the nuclear bomb escaped their attention? Do they seriously believe in the rubbish they are spouting?
To show you how disproportionate the debate has become, the big news this week is the proposal to offer ‘injection rooms’ free of charge for heroin users. Marijuana is to be legalized and possession of cocaine and heroin is to be decriminalized. These are mood altering and mind altering substances, the risks from which are immediate for the users and those around them. I’ve smoked for 43 years so far with no ill-effects to speak of. If a cigarette does have any immediate effect it is one of calming and relaxing. But the hard drugs are seeing creeping legality while the soft drug of tobacco faces creeping prohibition. It’s akin to criminalizing verbal insults in favor of legalizing gun ownership.
I’ve ceased to believe anything that is said about tobacco. To the extent I listen at all, it goes in one ear, and comes straight out of the other.
I think we’re in a cultural war on all traditional values. Everything is under attack. Beer and cigarettes are traditional, while cocaine and heroin are novelties. The cultural war is also being waged on traditional food, which we are told is toxic. On industry (for producing carbon dioxide). On cars (same reason). On education, which now seems to be mere crude indoctrination. On the sovereign state (due to be replaced by the EU). On the pound sterling (to be replaced by the euro). And on the family (to be replaced by gay marriage?). And on Christianity (to be replaced by Islam, as far as I can see).
In this last respect, I’m not sure if Brendan O’Neill is Irish, but he certainly has an excellent Irish name. He was speaking yesterday in Brussels, and recounting how after a Baptist Church in Norfolk in England had put up a poster suggesting that if you didn’t believe in God you would go to Hell, it was forced by police to take it down. O’Neill writes:
There are three things about this case that I found alarming.
The first is that, having been brought up a Catholic – though I am now lapsed beyond all hope – I know that the idea of hell is central to many Christians’ beliefs. It is a key component of their moral outlook: that if you don’t believe the right thing there is a chance you will go to hell. The fact that it is now difficult to express that key Christian belief in public should be disturbing to everyone, whether you’re a Christian who believes in hell or an atheist, like me, who does not.
The second thing about this case that struck me is that it happened in Norfolk. Norfolk is the birthplace of my hero, Thomas Paine. Paine is my hero for many reasons. One of them is that he is, in essence, the intellectual founder of the United States, which does a far better job of liberty than we in Europe do. Paine argued for the separation of America from Britain. And when he was calling for the creation of a new, independent republic of America, he said there would have to be a Bill of Rights guaranteeing fundamental liberties – and “above all things, it must guarantee the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience”…
And the third shocking thing about this case is that it was not a one-off. This was not weird, rash incident. There have been numerous incidents in Britain where people have been arrested, charged or punished in some way for expressing their religious beliefs.
I was brought up as a Catholic too, and am probably as lapsed a Catholic as Brendan O’Neill, yet I fully shared his sense of alarm. I don’t go to church, but I’ve recently been thinking of going round the churches in my little neck of the woods in Herefordshire, and giving them all as much money as I can afford, because I increasingly think they need all the help they can get.
We’re in a cultural war. And perhaps even a religious war. All our traditional beliefs must be overthrown, and replaced by new doctrines. And to that extent, as Grandad says, antismoking actually is a religion, or at least one wing of a much more comprehensive religion.