One thing that puzzles me: why are smokers an invisible minority? Blacks, women, gays, etc. are all highly visible minorities, and politicians court them. So why aren’t they courting smokers? Why don’t they ever mention them? Why can’t they even see them?
Can you see it?
No, of course you can’t. Because it’s invisible. What’s missing from this No Smoking sign is the smoker smoking the cigarette. He’s been airbrushed out.
Cigarettes don’t light themselves or smoke themselves. With every lit cigarette there is always an accompanying smoker. So when smoking is banned, so also are smokers. And if No Smoking signs included the smoker it would be clear that a particular sort of person was being prohibited.
So here’s the explanation for why smokers are invisible: They’ve been airbrushed out of No Smoking signs, and thereby airbrushed out of society. Cigarettes have become highly visible, and smokers invisible. Or smokers only become visible when they light cigarettes, rather like pedestrians only become visible at night if standing under street lights..
It’s also why the prohibitions on smokers can be (and are) so draconian. By removing the smoker, the target of the prohibition becomes a thing: a cigarette. And things have no rights. Only people have rights. So by focusing attention only on the cigarette, and ignoring its accompanying smoker, it becomes possible to enact legislation which targets the cigarette, but seemingly not the smoker, because the smoker is not shown. And once cigarettes can be unapologetically stubbed out, crushed, chopped up, pushed outside, dumped on the streets, smokers can unapologetically crushed, pushed outside, dumped on the streets.
So, for example, if you want to ban women from somewhere, without seeming to be doing so, you would ban some of the attributes of women, For example, little black dresses and high heel shoes. No woman would be depicted.
Another thing about No Smoking signs is that they are imported traffic signs. On Britain’s roads (and probably everywhere else) a universal sign language has emerged. In this new language a sign with a red circle around it is a sign that commands motorists . And a sign with a diagonal red line through is a prohibition on something. The sign at right prohibits turning right. Long before Britain’s smokers were assailed with No Smoking signs, Britain’s motorists were being ordered around by traffic signs.
And if the motorists would obey traffic signs, perhaps the same sort of instructions, using the same universal language, could be employed elsewhere. And they are indeed being used elsewhere, first in No Smoking signs, but now also No Vaping signs, or combined No Smoking Or Vaping signs. There are lots more of these new hieroglyphs now.