Twelve Years Of Hurt

Why was it that, 50 years after voting to join the European Economic Community (EEC), the British voted to leave it (and decisively voted twice)? One obvious answer is that the EEC had metamorphosed into the EU – a quite different beast – during those 50 years, and had ceased to be what the British thought they had joined.

So why was it that, 30 years after the EEC turned into the EU, the British voted to leave it? Why didn’t they demand to leave immediately? Why did they wait 30 years? The answer is probably that the loss of sovereignty over those 30 years had been a slow, cumulative process, and it was this accumulated loss which gradually turned the British against the EU.

A parallel question might be asked of the USA: Why was it that it took 100 years after the emancipation of slaves for there to emerge a powerful social movement against racial discrimination? Why did it take 100 years for Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King to step forward? The answer, most likely, was that although the emancipation of slaves was an enormous change, there continued to be considerable discrimination against coloured people, and this continuing discrimination slowly added up. It just took 100 years for it to boil over. Some things take a very long time to work their way through.

These days discrimination is directed against new targets. Instead of No Blacks or No Jews, there are No Smoking signs. The UK smoking ban of 1 July 2007 was not a singular event: it was the beginning of a process of gradual exclusion of smokers from all walks of life. Or rather it was the culmination of a process that had begun 30 or 40 years before. The war on smoking is a war that has been raging for a very long time. It’s been 500 years since tobacco was introduced into Western society, and there’s been continual resistance to it throughout that time.

And now smokers are experiencing what blacks and women and gays and Jews have experienced for a long time. Smokers are finding out what it’s like to be discriminated against, and continually and unremittingly discriminated against. It’s a new discrimination: smokers are now daily insulted by No Smoking signs in ways they never were a decade or two ago.

The result, I suggest, will be an inevitable smokers’ revolt, just like the Brexit revolt and the US Civil Rights revolt. Because the cumulative insult of smoking bans will gradually add up into one huge and unendurable insult. But, just like Brexit, it will take many years before it all finally boils over.

How long? 50 years? 100 years? There are reasons for supposing that it may well be a lot less than that. One of these is that smoking bans have appeared almost everywhere in the world at the same time, so that almost every smoker in the world is now experiencing discriminatory smoking bans. The speed and scope of smoking bans assures the speed and scope of the consequent smoker revolt. When smokers revolt, it will be a global revolt. And it will also be a sudden revolt. And, just like Brexit, nobody will see it coming.

Small insults add up slowly. Large insults add up quickly. And smokers are now being mightily insulted all over the world.

When the revolt comes, it will very likely be primarily a revolt against the medical profession in the World Health Organisation (WHO), because the war on smoking has been primarily waged on health grounds by numerous activist doctors (e.g. Richard Doll. George Godber, to name just two from the UK). The medical profession is likely to experience a collapse in public approval in ways that will seem unthinkable to doctors who regard their good name almost as a birthright. But they should not be surprised if, having conducted a long war on smokers, they find smokers conducting a long war on the medical profession. Nor should they be surprised if they find that smokers will have allies among drinkers and fat people against whom they have also been conducting long wars.

At present it is common for conservatives to be regularly accused of “racism, sexism, homophobia” and various other things. But these jibes refer back to a past era. In the future the charge will be that they are “sizist, antismoking prohibitionists” or something to that effect. Whereas once people wrote books like “Black Like Me“, they’ll now write books like “Fat Like Me” (In this respect I’ve been hoping to publish an essay by someone who has experienced what it’s like to be fat in our AntiFat Era, but it’s yet to be forthcoming. If there are any readers who feel able to write about this, I would be happy to publish some of their accounts).

I read yesterday complaints about “nine years of hurt” from a Conservative UK government. But in the UK smokers have endured over twelve years of hurt, and soon that will be fifteen years, and then twenty years. That’s a lot of hurt, slowly piling up, And the exact same thing is happening everywhere else in the world. It doesn’t take a genius to foresee that an explosion is coming, somewhere down the track.

My principal assertion is this: Whenever some social minority is subjected to continual exclusion and discrimination, the small insults slowly add up. They are not forgotten. And it’s because they are not forgotten that they must eventually find expression, 20 years, 50 years, and even 100 years later.


About Frank Davis

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16 Responses to Twelve Years Of Hurt

  1. Clicky says:

  2. Barry Homan says:

    Time to start organising that Global Choke-Out Day, Frank. The day when smokers refuse to buy anything. Amazon would get a real punch, it would certainly hurt. Then we do it again…

  3. Jc Collins says:

    I still blame the Braniff stewardesses, and the swimming pool at the Shamrock Hotel here in my hometown. I’ll have to tell you that story sometime.

  4. Smoking Lamp says:

    Smoking bans are essentially a form of persecution. they are imposed by extremists and supported by propaganda. The second hand smoke trope is based on outright lies. meverthe less, the antismokers have scammed the public and imposed their;confidence trick’. First it was separate smoking areas (actually reasonable), next it was comprehensive indoor bans based on alleged second hand smoke risks (all false). Then came eliminate of separate indoors smoking areas (even if separate and ventilated) from airports and now comprehensive outdoor bans. All imposed based on a foundation of lies. It’s time to turn the tables and demand separate accommodation for smokers. I recently flew through Miami where there is a open-air, yet covered smoking bar (complete with drinks and access to food) surrounded, yet separate from the terminal.. It was the busiest bar in the terminal.

  5. RdM says:

    I’m not sure what any of you would make of this guest comment (and comments).

    A bit tldr; for some people, evidently. Oh well.

  6. Fumo ergo sum says:

    “In this respect I’ve been hoping to publish an essay by someone who has experienced what it’s like to be fat in our AntiFat Era, but it’s yet to be forthcoming. If there are any readers who feel able to write about this, I would be happy to publish some of their accounts.”

    Well, perhaps I can share a little account then, because besides being a smoker I am also overweight. Which makes me a double target for today’s nannies and bullies, of course. For what is worth the credit, according to the WHO-approved Body Mass Index (BMI) I am considered to be “severely obese” (I have a BMI score of 38).

    Admittedly, I am not really socially suffering from my weight. I actually eat rather healthily – even though I treat myself on a well-merited pack of chips with mayonnaise every week – and in moderation, and I also physically exercise. Every evening I walk down the street and back for about an hour (unless it rains), while my smoke-free and skinny neighbours remain seated before their television set – crisps and chocolates within reach! I admit that I have gained a lot of weight during my student time between 2006 and 2011, but it seems rather hard to get rid of those pounds again. It could be due to an ineffective ‘slow’ thyroid gland, but in order to make sure whether this is the real cause I have to pass an examination at the doctor’s. For quite obvious reasons, I always try to avoid doctors and pharmacists whenever I can, so I’ll probably never know. On the other hand, I do no gain any additional weight either since the last five years or so, so as long as it is still manageable and continue to feel fine, I won’t put a lot of ‘weight’ on the issue.

    Nevertheless, I have always had some problems with my weight, already from when I was 5 years young. As you can already imagine, this made me an easy-to-catch culprit at primary school, and you know how wicked children can be at such a young age: I got constantly bullied by a handful of little devils who would yell provocative rhymes to me such as ‘Pak me dan, als je kan, dikke vette boterham!’ (‘Catch me if you can, you big fat sandwich!’). After which I would eventually catch them, drag them to a bench on the schoolyard, and sit on top of them for about five minutes as a form of corporal punishment. At last, some of them then finally understood that this ‘big fat sandwich’ would eventually devour them instead of the other way round… So they would stop bullying me.

    At secondary school I suddenly lost a lot of weight. But there I would get bullied because of my political beliefs which were, already then, on the ‘right hand side’ of the spectre. Then in 2006 I left secondary school, and I thought I got finally rid of all those bullies that had irritated me so much for about 12 years. Little did I know that, because I started smoking around that time, real hell was still about to come and a state of perpetual bullying to be inaugurated from 2011 onwards. There is perhaps one slight difference. When I was at school, I was permanently confronted with all these bullies because I had to go to school. It was obligatory, after all. Nowadays, I can at least avoid the bullies by not going to all these alleged ‘public spaces’ (except my work) altogether. The mere thought of being in a (smoke-free) bar and being eventually confronted with an inspector of the federal ‘public health’ ministry, sticking her sensible nose in affairs that are most definitely not hers, already makes me vomit. I sometimes wonder whether some of these little devilish bullies that are about my age have perhaps made it into politics by now, or in some grand bully organization specialized in “cancer research” or “harm reduction”. And that they may now continue to bully and harrass me from a distance. This time not for being too fat, but for being a smoker. Perhaps this ‘big fat sandwich’ – at last seasoned with smoked (!) bacon – shall have to step out, and drag them into an enormous ashtray this time.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Thanks for that.

      It was a woman who was going to write about what it’s like being fat, and she insisted that it was worse for fat people than it was for smokers. But I suspect it’s worse for fat women than it is fat men, given that they’re all supposed to look like Brigitte Bardot. Men are held to less exacting standards.

      I belong at the other end of the physical spectrum. I’m very thin: something that my mother put down to being on board a French ship sailing to Barbados or St Lucia, with no baby food, and so being fed French cuisine which I refused. There are different perils associated with being thin, chief among which is having sand kicked in your face by bullies on beaches, and having to develop muscles like Charles Atlas to fight them off, as a large ad on the back of every DC comic luridly described. In fact I never got sand kicked in my face, so never felt it necessary to build muscles, but I lived in fear of it whenever I visited a beach.

      We are all held to exacting standards, and not smoking is really just another exacting standard, and really just as much a matter of aesthetics as being too fat, or being too thin.

      • Fumo ergo sum says:

        “We are all held to exacting standards, and not smoking is really just another exacting standard, and really just as much a matter of aesthetics as being too fat, or being too thin.”
        –> And that’s one of the greatest perils of our age. An aesthetic ideal is always, to a large extent, ‘in the eye of the beholder’ even though it may represent certain objective standards, as the Renaissance painters correctly acknowledged. Nevertheless, it was thought that the Idea of the Beauty as a Platonic Form belonged to a transcendent realm of which its material manifestations are always incomplete representations. The Platonic Form therefore was the standard according to which any aesthetic object, such as a sculpture or painting, could be judged to be beautiful. But since we no longer believe in Platonic Forms, the objects themselves became the standards instead of the Forms, which means that beauty can only be described in either purely subjective or physical terms. But since an all-pervading subjectivism is in the long run self-refuting – any statement about what is ‘beautiful’ as opposed to ‘subjectively pleasing’ implies the tacit assumption that it can be intersubjectively shared – it turned out that a description of beauty as a supervenient quality having purely physical properties at its basis was the only way to circumvent subjectivism. Aesthetic philosophies based on physicalism, such as functionalism and other contemporary forms of art, are examples of this. Aesthetic physicalism is still relatively harmless as long as it is an attempt to give an account of inanimate objects such as paintings, sculptures and frescos. The problem is that we not only abandoned the Idea of Beauty, but the Platonic Idea of the Good as well. So if you remove both Platonic Forms and have nothing but a physicalist surrogate instead in order to explain beauty, then it it just a matter of time before the domain of beauty (aesthetics) becomes blurred with that of the good (ethics). And this is what we are currently observing. Whereas a couple of decades ago the idea of ‘being thin’ or ‘being muscled’ could still, albeit incoherently, conceived to be a purely aesthetic ideal with no practical consequences whatsoever, it is now becoming a moral imperative to strive for attaining that aesthetic ideal to the extent possible. Failing to attain these targets will get effectively sanctioned – even though its proponents will claim that they will only ‘nudge’ you in the right direction. That’s why you ‘ought’ to eat healthily (if not, your health insurance’s premium will surely rise), you ‘ought’ to physically exercise (if not, you will not get a discount on your local tax bill) and you most definitely ought to quit smoking (if not, you will surely get ‘exiled to the outdoors’). But it is only in the absence of real ethical standards – which always transcend our immediate experience of the world – that these kinds of ‘moralistic aestheticism’ could thrive. This is why it is a scam, and why it ought to be opposed on every single occasion.

        It is plausible that women are indeed suffering more from this new all-pervading madness than men, even though they too nowadays have to suffer their share of nonsense as well in the wake of agressive feminism and other MeToo-movements. After all, it could “no longer be tolerated” that the burden of moral and aesthetic improvement is unequally distributed among men and women. So whereas women are supposed to look like Brigitte Bardot, men are nowadays certainly required to look like Leonardo DiCaprio.

        Just as a matter of interest: do you still refuse to eat French cuisine? I personally could not imagine my life without some fine Bordeaux wine or a nice selection of Brie, Reblochon and Tomme de Savoie.

    • Vlad says:

      One can’t eat ‘rather healthily’ and have a 38 BMI. I was at 29 a few years back and it was bad…can’t imagine how it would be at 38. I’d suggest you cut down/eliminate all processed garbage full of sugar, flours and oil, concentrate on real foods that leave you satiated (meats, eggs, dairy) and compress your eating window (ie try eating all meals within 8-10hours/day).

  7. Fumo ergo sum says:

    By the way, today I bought two boxes of cigarettes and to my great astonishment, the boxes I received got restyled in a brownish/greenish clothing. I knew that plain packaging was about to be introduced here in Belgium as of January 2020 (which is the main reason why I won’t be celebrating New Year’s Eve this time… well, I actually do not celebrate it at at all any longer since 2011), but apparantly my brand (Marlboro 100s) got already its new colorless garments now.

    For UK readers and smokers plain packaging is, sadly enough, not something new. But for me it was the very first time I had my hands on one. Of course, I completely reject this once more outrageous encroachment-forward of the bully state, which is a blatant assault on trademark to begin with.

    But upon looking more closely at that pack, I was entertaining some secondary reflections as well. After all, plain packaging is introduced in order to make smoking ‘less attractive’. And especially chiiiiildren and young people are supposed not to be attracted any longer by all these colourful and catchy designs. But will that be the effect? In a certain way, I actually like the design of the new ‘plain’ pack. It sports a sober functionalist concept with straight, uniform letters. So it is actually a form of minimalist design, which is nowadays very trendy in, for instance, interior decoration. Moreover, minimalist clutter-free designs may actually look very refreshing, stylish and – may I use the word? – ‘progressive’ and can give a product or brand an image of confidence or even luxury. Think for instance about Apple. They sell all kinds of devices – iPhones, iPads,… – at staggering prices. The current line-up of iPhones even include models that cost more than 1,000 euros. But is it not remarkable that, unlike other smartphones (e.g. Samsung), the iPhone remains popular not despite but thanks to its simple yet elegant design? Also, that those hyperexpensive devices get packed in very sober boxes? I own an iPhone myself (albeit a cheaper, low-end model), and I still own its original box which is a uniform, plain white with Apple’s logo in a silver print. Plain packaging indeed, yet all voluntarily implemented by the corporation as part of its branding and marketing. And people are most willing to pay huge amounts for it.

    Or take another example ‘closer to home’: cigars. As probably any experienced cigar smoker may know, the best cigars are not the ones packed in colourful or fanciful tubes which are often for sale in nightshops. No, you’ll find them in specially dedicated cigar stores, where they are usually put on display in very sober wooden boxes. I think that any real cigar aficionado will actually intentionally avoid any cigar packed in a showy box with colourful designs. Indeed, that it is more likely that cigars displayed in a modest, sober setting will actually attract more customers. And this is because some modest sobriety that does not immediately appeal to the senses can be linked to forms of (Stoic) luxury. So perhaps the same could be happening to cigarettes now: instead of becoming less attractive, plain packaging may cause cigarettes to become status symbols of luxury. They will then become some kind of Veblen goods. And luxury, on its turn, is often associated with the good life which means that cigarettes will get associated with the good life as well. And hence become more popular instead of less popular.

    Which means of course that the bullies will fail once more in their evil attempts to eradicate smoking. But their failure is my delight.

    • Fumo ergo sum says:

      Those pesky scoundrels! I opened one of my new plainly packaged acquisitions this morning, and discovered another nasty detail: they have sneakily removed the brand’s name from the cigarette filter as well, which means that my fiery magic wands are henceforth completely anonymous. Did this all the sudden happen in the UK or in other nanny states such as Austerelia or New Zealot as well? In any case, the antismokers’ tactics are becoming ever so more ludicrous… I actually laughed when I discovered it.

      • Mark Jarratt says:

        Ludicrous is an understatement, prolix Fumo Ergo Sum… yes the failed outrageous propaganda pack insult and trademark appropriation “initiative” in Australia (probably NZ too), now stupidly adopted by other coercive paternalistic kleptocrat governments, included obliterating branding from each individual cigarette.
        The social engineering bullies assert that removed an “advertising loophole”, clearly a barking mad claim since viewers, even chiiildren with excellent vision, would need to be within 30cm to read it.
        Packs are not advertising, but are obliged by law to be hidden behind shutters anyway, as our betters know even fleeting exposure to tobacco products, even just seeing a pack, causes lifelong slavery, illness and premature death (sarcasm alert).

      • EG says:

        They are getting ready to imprint “smoking kills” on every cigarette. That’s verbal abuse in print, I think.

  8. Margo says:

    Fumo ergo sum – sermones festivos scribes!

  9. Pingback: Don’t Hire U-Haul | Frank Davis

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