I probably won’t publish every day for a while. So a few fragmentary thoughts.
In the hospital, none of the doctors seemed much interested in smoking. But hospital doctors probably aren’t ideologues. Hospital doctors are just trying to fix sick people. not advance theories of why they’re sick.
Antismokers are theoreticians with ideas about what makes people sick (e.g. smoking, obesity). They don’t think of people as individuals, but as members of abstract classes. And this dehumanises them, claps them in straitjackets, erasing their uniqueness.“““““““““““
My antismoking Dr W wasn’t a hands-on doctor treating individual sick people: he was a district health officer dealing with thousands of people, most of whom he never met face to face. He worked for many years for the WHO. Does anyone in the WHO ever meet any real patients?
But there are probably no practising doctors who think that the real patients in the beds in front of them are there because they smoked. If nothing else their gunshot wounds probably tell them otherwise. It’s only when you deal with large numbers of people that you can start to entertain the idea that they may have shared causes for their maladies.
A practising doctor will at any one time be dealing with one single patient. A bureaucratic doctor will always be dealing with thousands of anonymous faceless people. Dr W was a bureaucrat. I”m not sure he ever treated any individual patients.
Perhaps this is how zealots arise. They grow from always dealing with large numbers of people rather than individual people. And they start to classify these large numbers of people into different groups. They begin to discriminate between them, putting them in different boxes. Black,white. Men, women. Child, adult. And in the process they gain separate new identities, separate new labels, which become more important than any others. They become “smokers.” Or they become “obese”. And they gradually attract greater or lesser opprobrium. Once someone has been classified in these ways, they’re stuck with a label which may well dominate the way they are treated.
One of my own labels is: “English”. And “English” is subtly different from “Scottish” or “Irish.” They are all regarded as possessing different character traits – and perhaps they in fact do. I’m inclined to think that people who spend their lives in noisy bustling cities are slightly different than those who live in quiet countrysides. These differences are likely to intensify; there seems to be a deep and growing difference between coastal metropolitan Americans and those in the “flyover” country in between.
And all these classes meet with different degrees of approval or disapproval. “Smokers” have become become a disapproved class, along with the “obese”..The labels come with their own approval ratings, and if you are to increase your approval you’ll need to lose the label.