Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Smokin'!

Like L. Neil, I don't smoke any more either, but I did for thirty or forty years.  A whole lot of pipes, many cigars, and maybe half a dozen cigarettes. To a pipe smoker, cigarettes are hard to consider tobacco at all. But it's not whether you smoke or not, but whether you're allowed to. And now we have the e-cigs, which sound outrageously wussy to me, like grilled tofu with lukewarm water on the side. Can you imagine Sherlock Holmes having a three-e-cig problem? But again, it's what you're allowed to do.

I Told You So—Again
by L. Neil Smith
lneil@netzero.com

 
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

Two or three decades ago, in a treatise on the social politics of cigarette smoking that I remember writing very clearly—but can no longer find in my archives—I observed that there are three kinds of individuals. [ was it "When They Came for the Smokers...", found here?—Editor ]

First, there are smokers, among whom I numbered myself for thirty years.

Among the War on Pleasure's countless victims, they have been made by the media, politicians, and pressure groups—as well as by their brainwashed neighbors, co-workers, families, and friends—to feel guilty about everything that they think, and feel, and say, and do -- and most of all, enjoy. They have been the subjects of more vicious bigotry than European Jews during the Black Plague. Everything you think you know, for example, about "secondhand smoke" is an outright, deliberate lie, propagated at the order of the George H.W. Bush Administration.

Second, there are non-smokers, whose ranks I had no rational alternative to joining after I suffered two myocardial infarctions in 1993.

Folks like this fall into two groups, those who have had to stop, and those who never indulged. My own philosopy is that it is better to have smoked, and quit, than never to have smoked at all. The memory of the first couple of drags on one of Nat Sherman's dark masterpieces, or the blast of a fresh Gauloises, or the down-home comfort-smoke of Marlboros, these will all be precious to me if I live a for thousand years (which, ironically, I'm far likelier to do if I refrain from smoking.)

But the salient point is that genuine non-smokers do not begrudge those who enjoy the Dixie weed, as long as it doesn't impinge on their own existence. Unlike many former smokers I am not a bit offended by the odor of tobacco smoke. I enjoy it, and will deliberately stand downwind of someone torching up. Nor am I even slightly tempted (as I suspect many former smokers actually are) to start smoking again. Nicotine causes red corpuscles to clump together, so when they hit a section of artery clogged by bacon-wrapped dates (a personal favorite of mine) or butter-drenched pan-seared diver scallops, it's lights out forever.

Of the third group, anti-smokers, whom that article and this one are about. I recall saying that if they were sitting in a restaurant, separated from the smokers by airlocks and plate glass six inches thick, so that not one molecule of tar or nicotine had any chance of reaching them, they would still be outraged merely by the sight of others enjoying themselves in a manner they don't approve of. Because that's what it's actually all about, not smoking, in and of itself, but what H.L. Mencken called the fear that someone, somewhere, is happy.

And this is where "I told you so" comes in.

I have probably had more excrement dumped on my head over issues related to tobacco politics, than with regard to any of my writings on the erroneously sainted Abraham Lincoln. For the most part, it was it was princesses of all four sexes, whining about a pea under their mattresses, or idiots with neatly compartmentalized ganglia (they don't deserve to be called "brains") denying, in one breath, that I had accurately described their neo-Puritanism, and in the next breath, without even a semicolon of separation, confirming everything I'd said.

By now you probably can't avoid being aware of a new electronic invention that allows its operators to inhale nicotine-laced water vapor without filling the air with tobacco smoke—the Devil's own flatulence—or the 400-year-old risk of setting fire to their noses or to anything else. They are called "e-cigs" and they are all the rage.

There are many things I could say about these devices. I may even have predicted them in one of my novels. They are of no use to me because of nicotine's aforementioned tendency to glue red blood cells together. In one of nature's better jokes, nicotine also constricts areteries, raising blood presssure, while increasing the rate of your heartbeat.

But worst of all, they offer people solace, and a kind of campfire comfort and companionship against loneliness that regular cigarettes, cigars, and pipes once offered—and at any cost, that must not be permitted, not while government is there to offer you comfort and companionship.

Whether you want it or not.

So naturally, without any basis whatever in science, and certainly none in decent, ethical behavior on the part of politicians, e-cigs are being lumped into various unconstitutional smoking bans around the country, notably that shining beacon of individual liberty, Chicago, Illinois—still the Second City despite the fascism of Bloomberg and DeBlasio.

At the same time, preachers and other such parasites, not content with nearly destroying America with their precious 1919 Volstead Act (look it up), and being indirectly, but palpably responsible for the invention of criminal turf wars, drive-by shootings, cement overshoes, and blindness or death owing to poorly-made or industrial alcohol, are doing their 6000-year-old damnedest to eradicate any picosecond of enjoyment that threatens to make life even the slightest bit worth living.

Some of that poisoning, of course, is still being done on purpose, by government, to make sure they get their two bucks a bottle of whiskey, tequila, rum, vodka, akvavit or any of the other waters of life.
But I digress.

The same herd of antihedonic lunatics and morons who once railed against miniskirts, platform heels, and video arcades, because they represented the end of civilization, are now attempting to outlaw the sale of e-cigs to people under 18, brutally crushing out even the most minuscule of pleasures people under 18 can experience because, well, people under 18 shouldn't be allowed even the most minuscule of pleasures.

It's bad for their character.

Meanwhile, that Progressive Era wet dream, the federal Food and Drug Administration—the same gaggle of geniuses who claim that meat and Vitaman D are bad for you—are scheming to require that e-cigs be "proven safe", as if sky-diving, skate-boarding, or race-car driving have been proven safe and are now allowable by an indulgent goverment.

Under their control, aspirin would be illegal.

Other neo-Puritans are agitating to forbid the sale of e-cigs online because obviously nothing good can possibly come from the Internet.

So was I right, or was I right?

This country has always been of two minds with regard to pleasure. There are the intellectual heirs of the Plymouth Rock crowd who would agree with Jerome Corsi that there's no justifiction for recreational sex.

Then again there are the libertarians, from Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine onward, who attributed to the "pursuit of happiness" an equivalence in value to liberty and life itself, even substituting it for property in the Declaration of Independence. That, by the way, is precisely what makes that document—as well as the Revolution it kicked off—libertarian in character, rather than merely the class-motivated struggle Marxists like Obama claim it was, of the landed class attempting to squirm out from under the thumb of the English monarchy.

The whole of American domestic history has consisted, pretty much, of one long, constant battle between those two points of view, freedom versus Puritanism, Franklin versus Mather, Jefferson versus Adams, the South and West versus New England, with an occasional foreign war to provide a breather. Now, because the sight of anyone having pleasure affects them the way that sunlight affects a vampire, the Puritans, Mathers, Adamses, and New Englanders are all out to diddle with your e-cigs.
And unless you stop them, between neo-Puritanism and political correctness, the final victory will go to the whiniest babies in the nursery.

Same as it ever was ... same as it ever was ... same as it ever was ...

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