Yesterday I mentioned A.J. Ayer talking about Logical Positivism with Bryan Magee, and noted that Ayer had lit a cigarette 7 minutes and 30 seconds into their discussion.
In fact, on closer examination, I found that this was probably Ayer’s second cigarette, and that he had lit his first cigarette after just 4 minutes and 27 seconds:
The video was made in 1976, when nobody noticed cigarettes. It was probably still possible for it to have been made in 1996, when discussion programmes like After Dark featured people sitting around a table, smoking and drinking as they talked. But I doubt if it could have been made very much later than that.
Because now, 4 minutes and 27 seconds into the programme A.J. Ayer may as well have produced a live hand grenade from his pocket, and pulled the pin out. The programme would have been halted. Bryan Magee would have been helped away, coughing and spluttering. The studio would have been cleared. Firemen would have rushed in to douse the cigarette. And A.J. Ayer would have been arrested, handcuffed, and led away. And of course the discussion would have terminated. The screen would have gone black, and displayed “Normal Service Will Be Resumed As Soon As Possible.”
That’s how crazy it’s become. Many people have become so sensitised to cigarettes that they’ll start coughing and spluttering, and having asthma attacks, at the mere sight of one. And in fact I notice cigarettes just as much as anyone else – although my reaction to seeing someone lighting up is one of thankfulness and relief that there’s another smoker present. I know this because when I saw Ayer light up, I was initially delighted – before I started getting worried about what would happen next, and lost the thread of the discussion (as did Mandy Vincent): Lit cigarettes now trump Logical Positivism.
Rather mercifully, A.J. Ayer died in 1989 before this collective madness had become a tidal wave. But if he had been around today, he would have been told – or would already know – that he wouldn’t be permitted to smoke while he discussed Logical Positivism with Bryan Magee. And, since quite clearly he would have wanted to have lit up as they talked, he would have been under slight stress throughout the discussion. He would not have been at ease. And almost certainly the result would have been that he would have spoken slightly differently. He might even have terminated the discussion at the earliest opportunity.
The only people with whom smokers can now speak easily and relaxedly are other smokers. The cigarette between the fingers has become the identifying symbol of a certain kind of easy-going tolerance. And its absence has become a warning sign.
Which has led me to believe that in the near future, smokers will form separate societies, or become confined to ghettos. For it won’t just be that non-smokers won’t want to be around smokers, but that smokers won’t want to be around non-smokers. The forces of mutual repulsion will be equal and opposite. Smokers and non-smokers will cease to co-exist with each other. Co-existence will have become impossible. Society will be visibly seen to be broken in ways it has yet to be.
But it’s not just smokers who are being subjected to exclusionary measures. It’s happening to all sorts of other “undesirables” – like drinkers and fat people – as well. Even dog owners:
Dog walking has been banned or cut back in thousands of parks and open spaces in the past two years, it is claimed.
Public Space Protection Orders, aimed at stopping threatening or violent behaviour, allows councils to ban various activities in certain areas.
Kennel Club estimates, based on figures from its own contacts with councils, show dogs have been banned from at least 2,205 public places in England and Wales, The Daily Telegraph said.
Some parks, playing fields and beaches are among the places which have been put out of bounds and dogs have also been stopped from running or playing off a lead in 1,100 others places, it was claimed.
I’ve never owned a dog (they’re far too demanding for me), but lots of people do, and dearly love them. If smokers can be easily expelled from society, how much easier will it be to expel dogs and dog owners? It’s not going to be too hard to make a case that dogs pose a Public Health threat far greater even than cigarettes. Dogs can attack and kill people. Many probably carry fleas (or can be plausibly claimed to so do). And of course they defecate everywhere (as does every other animal in the natural world). Canine Control will require dog owners to obtain licences (that probably happens already). Dog “addicts” will be offered inanimate fluffy dog substitutes, and encouraged in canine cessation programmes to give up their dogs. Canine Control officers will comb neighbourhoods shooting dogs, cats, budgerigars, parrots, hamsters, and any other animal they encounter (Here are several graphic reports of dogs being shot on sight by police in the USA).
Absolutely everything is under attack. Marriage is under attack. Gender differences are under attack. Christianity is under attack. Nation states are under attack. Borders are being thrown open. Everything that was once perfectly normal is being derided and de-normalised. The world is being turned upside down.
An explosion is coming.