Something that has crept into mind recently.
Back in January 2007, the Guardian published a piece by Deborah Arnott with the title: Don’t hate the smoker. I keep a link to it in the right margin, because in the piece she wrote:
When the smoking ban comes into force in England in July smokers will be exiled to the outdoors.
She was quite right. On 1 July 2007, we smokers were indeed exiled to the outdoors. And I for one have remained there ever since. That exile has had an enormous impact on me. It made me into a different person than the one I was before.
But all that aside, it’s the title of the piece that I’ve been thinking about:
Don’t hate the smoker.
This may not have been her title. After all, newspaper editors tend to write their own headlines for pieces written by contributors. But regardless of whoever wrote it, it’s a revealing title, because it’s really saying:
Hate the smoker. Don’t.
It’s referencing hatred of smokers. And enjoining people to not hate smokers, because…
If smokers are marginalised in our society there is a danger that they will begin to see their habit as a badge of honour.
But what’s implicit in it is the fact that some people hate smokers. There’s a real hatred of them out there. And in my right margin I keep a copy of Michael McFadden’s Wall of Hate, which is made up of hundreds of expressions of hatred and contempt for smokers of a kind that are often found online in comments.
And this hatred of smokers was also present in the title of the 2007 Deborah Arnott piece, albeit as a warning against such hatred.
But the plain fact of the matter is that antismokers are filled with exactly this hatred. It’s a hatred that I first encountered in the house of Dr W, the very first antismoker I ever met. The last time I ever saw Dr W, he was speaking on television on behalf of the BMA. And that means that this hatred of smoking and smokers is found in the highest ranks of the medical profession.
We’re not dealing here with science or medicine or reason: we’re dealing with hatred. We’re dealing with a hatred as deep as hatred of Jews or any other social group. Antismoking is exactly like antisemitism. It just has a different object of hatred.
Another reason why we may know that we’re faced with hatred is because everything that is done to smokers is invariably nasty. The smoking bans are nasty. The taxation of tobacco is nasty. Bullying messages on “plain” packaging are nasty. Smokers are driven outside, and then they are driven further outside. There’s never any consideration for smokers. And there’s no consideration because all these actions are driven by nothing but hatred.
Where does the hatred come from? I don’t know. There seems to be a lot of hatred around these days. Antisemitism has been on the rise in recent years. I don’t know why.
And what is it that many people feel about Donald Trump?
Some people really, really hate him.
And, as far as I can see, they hate him for no reason whatsoever.
Which is also how it is with both antismoking and antisemitism.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about hatred. Today is just the day when I noticed the barely-concealed hatred in the title of a piece by Deborah Arnott that I had read many times without seeing it.