Friday, April 18, 2008

Tobacco Control - The new nazis

First they came for the Communists,
but I wasn’t a Communist,
so I didn’t speak up;
Then they came for the trade unionists,
but I wasn’t a trade unionist,
so I didn’t speak up;
And when they came for the Jews,
I didn’t speak up
because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then they came for me . . .
and by that time
there was no one left to speak up.

According to Wikipedia, "First they came…" is a poem attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

Niemöller’s poem is a popular way of warning people about the dangers of political apathy, especially when it comes to targeting selected groups for discrimination. Teach people to fear and the hate will inevitably follow. And, once the people learn to fear and hate targeted groups, they will allow, and often encourage, the most disgraceful behaviour by their government in efforts to “control” that group.

The phenomona has not been the sole preserve of totalatarian or dictatorial regimes. The Nazis weren’t the first, and they won’t be the last, to use the tactics of targeted fear and hatred to achieve their political goals. They were simply better at it than most.

The new nazis use euphimisms such as “tobacco control” or “non-smokers rights”. But, the tactics are the same tactics of fear, hatred and discrimination used in the thirties. Smokers are the current target; others will, inevitably, follow.

Non-smokers are beginning to feel more and more comfortable directing demeaning remarks to smokers; often complete strangers. Their confrontational attitude has already led to serious physical assaults on smokers. Efforts are in the works to deprive smokers of the right to earn a living, to deny them a place to live and to deny them medical care.

First the confusing and contradictory “scientific” studies to instil fear that smokers and their secondhand smoke may be causing health problems for those around them. Then, thinly disguised allegations that they are “killing” our kids.

Repeat the propoganda until it becomes the truth in the minds and imaginations of the the people, and then pounce when the lack of moral fibre in the general population allows the target group to be placed under the heel of their jack boots.

Some may think that equating the tactics used by the “tobacco control” movement with those of the fascist regimes of the thirties and forties, is a gross exaggeration. They should take the blinders off and give the strategies being employed by the anti-smoker brigade some sober second thought.

And, this includes guilt-tripping smokers who appear willing to accept their new role as second class citizens.

Smokers and non-smokers alike should be standing up for personal liberties and the privilege of free choice. Who’ll be next; the overweight and obese, the drinkers, gamblers?

Who’ll be left to speak out when it’s your turn?

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