Naughty List Morality

While sitting in a dentist’s chair some 5 years ago, I was being lectured about smoking by a dental hygienist who ended up telling me, in all seriousness, that “It’s naughty to smoke.” And I burst out laughing. There was I, a man of 65 years of age, being told that I was a naughty boy, and how very naughty it was of me to have smoked cigarettes for the past 45 years of my life. It was utterly laughable. And what was even more laughable was that this moral instruction was being provided by, of all things, a dental hygienist. A look of dismay and confusion passed over her face when I laughed. I can only suppose that most people hadn’t laughed when she’d delivered her stern lecture before. What kind of fool argues with a dental hygienist who is about to attack his teeth with some sharp implement?

I could have asked her, “Why is it naughty to smoke?” But I doubted that she had ever asked herself such a question. She’d probably been taught as a little girl that it was naughty to smoke. She’d probably been taught that any number of things were naughty. She probably had a very long list of naughty things you shouldn’t do, which probably included picking your nose, and holding knives and forks in the wrong hands, and running in corridors. There wasn’t any why about any of it. It was just so. There were things that were right, and there were things that were wrong. And people needed to be taught what was right and wrong, just like they were taught cooking or reading or anything else. And they particularly needed to be taught even if they were 65 years old, and obviously had never been taught right from wrong.

Perhaps the antismokers are all simply people who were taught, sometime in their childhood, that “smoking is naughty”, and took the lesson to heart. Perhaps they’re people who carry around with them a long list of things that are naughty, and whenever they do anything, they first look through their list of naughty things you shouldn’t do, and if the behaviour in question doesn’t appear on the list, then they conclude that it’s okay to do it. And most likely the camp guards at Auschwitz looked through their own naughty lists, and didn’t find any mention of gas chambers in them, and so decided that it must be perfectly okay to bundle people into gas chambers. The same camp guards probably had perfect table manners, and always washed diligently behind their ears, and never strolled around with their hands in their pockets, because those things were on the naughty list of things you mustn’t do.

And it must come as a shock to all the people with such naughty lists when they enter a world in which people are doing any number of naughty things all the time. They’re smoking and drinking and eating cheeseburgers with one hand. Or they’re standing around with their hands in their pockets, telling dirty jokes, and laughing uproariously. They break every rule. How terrible!

And after a while, after seeing everybody behaving so badly for so long, they all bring out their naughty lists, and tell people to stop being so naughty. And that’s when you start seeing dental hygienists lecturing dental patients. They read out their naughty lists. Because that’s how their morality works. It’s a list-morality. It’s a list of things you shouldn’t do. Or maybe it’s a list of things you should and shouldn’t do, much like the 10 Commandments are a list of things you should and shouldn’t do. And if they’re all so sanctimonious, holier-than-thou, it’s because for them holiness means knowing your naughty list, and being able to recite it from memory.

There are lots of different naughty lists. Eating pork is on the naughty list of Jews and Muslims, but it’s not on the naughty list of Christians. Drinking alcohol is on the naughty list of Muslims, but not Jews or Christians. This shouldn’t be too surprising, because neither pork nor alcohol are mentioned in the original 10 Commandments naughty list that they all share. And if there is a strong affinity between Western antismokers and radical Islamists, it’s probably because they both include tobacco in their naughty lists, even though radical Islam doesn’t seem to include rape in its particular naughty list.

The naughty lists are always being revised and re-written. It used to be very, very naughty for men to have sex with each other. But that’s been revised, and it’s been removed from the naughty list. And it used to be that black people and women were treated much less deferentially than white males, but now it’s naughty to treat them any differently. And it used to be that smoking was perfectly normal, but now it’s regarded as being very, very naughty. And so on.

And they don’t call it “naughty” any more: they call it “unacceptable”. And what’s acceptable or unacceptable is a consensus view that is decided in closed conferences of self-styled moral experts. The World Health Organisation regularly holds such conferences. The last one was in New Delhi. The one before that was in Moscow. They are like the early Christian Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, which met to determine the true nature of God, and to discuss the Arian heresy, and which produced the Nicene creed, which is a long list of things the experts decided that they all believed, or should all believe. One might think of the WHO conferences in New Delhi and Moscow as being filled with dental hygienists from every country in the world, earnestly discussing whether e-cigarettes (the contemporary equivalent of the Arian heresy?) should be added to the naughty list.

Political Correctness is another naughty list morality. It has lists of PC-approved people, and disapproved naughty people. Approved people include gays, lesbians, blacks, and women. Disapproved people include whites, men, smokers, drinkers, and fat people. They even have long lists of PC-approved words and disapproved naughty words. The Politically Correct are just as holier-than-thou as any Christian or Muslim fundamentalist, perhaps more so. Social Justice Warriors set out to impose the PC naughty list morality on everybody else.

Naughty list morality is the morality of moral simpletons. It does not have any underlying rationality. And what passes for moral debate really boils down to comparing lists, and trying to produce one list – a new Credo – from many over-lapping lists. And what comes out of that isn’t really any morality at all.

What they all need to be asked is: “Why is one thing better than another?” And if they can’t answer that simple question, then all of their moral imperatives should be dispensed with out of hand, and all their naughty lists torn up and burned.

About Frank Davis

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36 Responses to Naughty List Morality

  1. RdM says:

    Pretty furious after listening to this, Ellen Read’s paternalistic ignorance…
    (easy to find, ellen read nz)
    On twitter too, also Fairfax Business Editor… plump, telling us naughty…

    An after all pretty lightweight ‘magazine’ programme, but a lot of people listen to it…

    I didn’t even realise it was “World No Smoking Day”, or whatever and couldn’t have cared less…
    I’m composing a few links on the benefits of tobacco to send to her…

    These are a good start, perhaps, but perhaps some further links, maybe others have others?
    (I’m sure I’ve overlooked or forgotten some!)

    Should send some on the lack of harm from secondhand smoke too, tctatics and more…

    But I’ve already busted the 3-link limit (or is it 2?) here, I think! ;=}) Sorry!!

    Thanks, Frank!

      • RdM says:

        Hey thanks, nisakiman! (love to know the derivation of that name some time!)
        Smoking, but not nicotine, reduces risk for rare tumor, study suggests

        Hmm, interesting, indeed, but a bit rare and a narrow focus to perhaps be persuasive in a general argument.
        But thanks!

        This one’s a bit equivocal, I think:

        Among many other paragraphs,

        “Please keep in mind; even if we accept that there are some benefits to smoking cigarettes, smoking in general is still detrimental to your health. It will undoubtedly increase your risk for various cancers and heart diseases. Some of the scientific studies noted above that link health benefits with smoking are flawed and are likely a result of a correlation finding rather than causation.”

        Nah, can’t use that! (we like to cherry-pick too! ;-)

        But thanks so much for the swift reply!

        • nisakiman says:

          Sorry, I didn’t actually check them very carefully – I just pulled a few at random from my bookmarks list. I’ve got dozens of them. If you want to send me your email to my username at hotmail dot com, then when I have a few spare minutes, I’ll sift a few more pertinent ones out and send them to you.

          My username comes from when I had a bar in a village called Nisaki on the island of Corfu. I was casting around for a name for a hotmail address that was easy to remember, wasn’t gobbledygook and didn’t have a string of forgettable numbers after it. After going through loads of possibles, all of which were already taken, I had a sudden brainfart, and tried ‘nisakiman’. Bingo! That was about fifteen years ago, and I’ve used the same username ever since. I’ve got something of a monopoly on it now, as it’s registered all over the place. I even own nisakiman dot com.

        • RdM says:

          Corfu, Nisaki, Greece … looks pretty nice!
          All the talk of escaping to somewhere else, recently…
          Most countries seem to have quite strict immigration selection policies now…

          You’ve done well to establish yourself!

          Best wishes;- email sent!

      • beobrigitte says:

        Tobacco sure increases work capability. I used to rattle out the emergency provisions, went for a ciggie to make a plan for the next 6 hours. Including outlandish and expensive deliveries.

        Working off the protocol meant I’d gain time to be ahead.
        The sharpest plans I got from my ciggie at the start.
        The next ciggie was 6 hrs the one to say “Thank god, I’m grateful my plan was spot on”.

        At very critical situation it’s good to get your head clear and make a plan. A ciggie at the start is priceless. Worked for me 100%. As it did for the people affected.

        • Barry Homan says:

          I agree, and can relate my own experiences. I have a stage act, and at the start I could never get just the right “curve” in the first 20 seconds of the act’s opening. I had to achieve just the right dramatic flair, just the right touch – the audience always judges you in those first 20 seconds of your act. I worked for days, the result was always the same: it was just flat, it was nothing. I kept sitting down and lighting up, repeating the same thought to myself over and over: it’s not working, it’s not working! I kept sitting there smoking, until…it finally did work.

          Cigarettes finally helped my mind to sharpen, to focus on what I was doing and the result was great.

        • Rose says:

          I find that a cigarette is essential to a period of deep thought, whether it’s the nitric oxide, 2,3,6-trimethyl-1-4-naphthoquinone , carbon monoxide (another natural neurotransmitter), something else or just making a quiet space in the day, I really don’t know.
          Or perhaps that when you smoke you really are communing with the Great Spirit. I’ve had a lot of sudden inspirations on new directions of research when smoking a cigarette.

        • RdM says:

          roobeedoo2 ;- thanks for that very funny earlier underdogs link;- I’d missed that one!

          I feel a Bill Hicks moment coming on …

      • RdM says:
        Interesting again, thank you;- possibly a bit dry for general consumption, and only the abstract.

        I tried on sci-hub to find more, but couldn’t get any further….
        Thanks so much for your thoughtful efforts, though!

        I think I have enough to be going on with;- I just have to get on to making the email now!

        This is a nicely re-formatted version of the .dk English Nicotine translation above.

        A great reference!

        And so true, from general experience.
        ‘Smoko’ breaks were not called that for no reason!

        Although the article mentions a Danish study on productivity declines since smoking ban, I’d love to be able to see further worldwide individual studies per country on the same… along with pub closures, and ripple-on effects, job losses, &etc. – surely there are some?

        Here in NZ, I remember from quite a few years ago, an all-night night-shift alarm security center employee was fired shortly after the newly introduced workplace smoking ban, for smoking ‘on the job’ – presumably to keep his concentration up!

        ~ Ross

        • RdM says:

          Rose wrote:

          I find that a cigarette is essential to a period of deep thought, whether it’s the nitric oxide, 2,3,6-trimethyl-1-4-naphthoquinone , carbon monoxide (another natural neurotransmitter), something else or just making a quiet space in the day, I really don’t know.
          Or perhaps that when you smoke you really are communing with the Great Spirit. I’ve had a lot of sudden inspirations on new directions of research when smoking a cigarette.

          It’s so true.

          I prefer RYO, including additive-free RYO, will buy & break up commercial tailor or factory made cigarettes to re-roll in clean burning papers in a cash emergency, but they’e pretty disappointing despite even that, all the ersatz fillers & reconstituted tobacco sheet, puffed (& even not puffed!) stalks, & etc. – and pipe tobacco is now even more insanely expensive here, around $90 for a 50g tin…

          Could hardly be a more successful influence campaign, to destroy the West, &etc.

        • Frank Davis says:

          I’ve got some Danish studies. I helped translate some. Search for Klaus K in my blog.

    • nisakiman says:

      There’s a couple to be going on with.

      I’ve been trying to double up on my smoking rate today to celebrate ‘World No Smoking Day’ or whatever it is.

      • beobrigitte says:

        Ah. Now I know why I have had such a cigarette craving today. The world no smoking day was here – and nobody acknowledges it.

        The weather was great, a wonderful beer garden and pueblo tobacco.

        “Alkohol und Nikotin rafft die halbe Mennscheit hin.
        Aber ohne Bier und Rauch stirbt die andere Hälfte auch.”

        (Alcohol and nicotine kills half of the people. But without beer and smoke the other half dies also.)

      • RdM says:
        “A history of smoking is associated with improved survival in patients treated with mild therapeutic hypothermia following cardiac arrest”

        Ah yes and this reminds me of other mountaineering recounts or stories or even films I’ve seen;- of mountaineers enjoying and replenishing with a tobacco smoke part way up a mountain.., I think Rose may have mentioned such some time earlier.

        And I think there’s other studies re smoking and altitude, some a bit too PC in attitude.

        I’ve seen a 16mm film of some fellows hiking in through the jungle for days, after being delivered by boat, to then establish camps and climb the possibly “Lost World” volcanic plug mountain that inspired the early last century stories, great telephoto first wide than close-up shots of climbing with ropes up this border-several-countries peak, with a plateau on top, of … stopping for a cigarette!

        Halfway up the mountain!
        (possibly several times, contemplating next difficult parts.)

        Great footage! ,,, then, their supply plane is late coming in, so they are all starved of cigarettes (& chocolate?) for several days, and relate that… on top of this plateau.

        I must look up the catalogues I’ve kept, wish I had the film, I could transcode it & upload!
        Well, at least project it and record the screen, although I know a professional lab owner.
        I have 16mm film projectors, &etc. Hard to find that film reference on Google though!

        And, re your last,
        This study demonstrates an association between current exposure to tobacco smoke and a low risk for atopic disorders in smokers themselves and a similar tendency in their children. There is a need for further studies with a prospective design to certify the causal direction of this association.”

        (Always the need for further studies, more money!)

        But yes, and I recall a New Zealand study confirming this too.

        (Always amusing when the Asthma Society comes out in press releases every time there’s a price hike, supporting it, seeming in ignorance – there’s no plausible connection biologically between tobacco smoke and asthma, is there!
        (Just the fear trigger… !) (from anti-tobacco propaganda)

        Hey thanks for your kind research contributions again;-
        I’ve been behind on other request replies earlier, so thought I should make an effort!
        I think the next thing is to direct an email to the programme/person who irritated… with ignorance;- I should try to be kindly… she didn’t know any better, just brainwashed!

        Of course, the anti zealots observe these blogs too…

  2. Rose says:

    Sorry but I need to let off steam for a moment.

    “I am not an anti smoker” “but would you like me to *iss on you every now and again after having a few drinks of beer,i think not.”

    I have been reading various versions of that tedious, vulgar and unnecessary quote on newspaper threads since 2007.

    “In closing, let me quote the famous sign from Ken’s Magic Shop: “Thank You for Not Smoking. Cigarette smoke is the residue of your pleasure. It contaminates the air, pollutes my hair and clothes, not to mention my lungs. This takes place without my consent. I have a pleasure, also. I like a beer now and then. The residue of my pleasure is urine. Would you be annoyed if I stood on a chair and pissed on your head and your clothes without your consent?”

    Good manners cost nothing, even if you are trying to insult people, at least do it subtly.

    Apologies for posting such a disgusting thing here.
    Delete at will.

    • Smoking Lamp says:

      Rose, I understand your frustration. I’ve recently been told (in the comments section of a smoking ban article) that I’m naughty for challenging antismoking propaganda. The antismoker comments are the epitome of incivility. Of course these base comments are designed to incite the masses to hatred of smokers (essentially fomenting anti-tobacco hysteria). I also suspect a rather small number of zealots is responsible for the astroturf attacks on smokers.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Rose, I’ve read all this in German years ago…
      Same idiotic rhetoric, no individual thoughts or experiences. Just blabb.
      Look at the comparatively few of us addressing anti-smoking from REAL, DIFFERENT angles.
      I put my left hand to my brow, only index finger and thumb pointing.
      Yes, the anti smokers are losers.

      Just curious, how many others of us in DIFFERENT countries with DIFFERENT languages have read/heard the same lines translated?

      • nisakiman says:

        I think all the soundbites and comments are pre-scripted in some central office, Brigitte, and then disseminated to all the regional centres where they are translated if necessary and then handed out the the faux grassroots activists to use in newspaper comments. They then get picked up by the indoctrinated useful idiots who think that they will sound ever so clever when they use these trite little soundbites themselves.

        Another thing that never ceases to amaze me is how many anti-smokers writing in comments seem to have lost half their families and friends to lung cancer, COPD, smoking-induced heart-attacks and the like. In some comments sections you’d think there has been some sort of tobacco-driven genocidal Armageddon at work! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read comments by people claiming that they’ve lost both parents, a couple of siblings and several friends to lung cancer because they smoked! It’s a wonder there’s anyone left of our generation at all.

        • Rose says:

          I think all the soundbites and comments are pre-scripted in some central office

          That was particularly noticeable in the first couple of weeks after the Smoking Ban, the apparent multitude of commenters praising the new legislation all seemed to change catch phrase on the same day.

          How Labour used its election troops to fake popular support

    • waltc says:

      I think it’s still in moderation over at Curmudgeon’s–that, or it didn’t take–but this was my answer to Mr I-am-not-an-anti-smoker-but”

      If you don’t know the difference between someone smoking at a nearby table and getting pissed on, perhaps someone could give you a live demonstration. A more accurate analogy to your all or nothing proposal would be to ban all pissing everywhere indoors and reserve it for outdoor railway platforms.

      • Rose says:

        I wondered at first if antismokers had some kind of peculiar fetish to even think of doing such a thing that they only dare admit to on newspaper threads, until I found that quote.

      • “If you don’t know the difference between someone smoking at a nearby table and getting pissed on, perhaps someone could give you a live demonstration”

        LOVE IT!!!!

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