22 April 2012

About Those Anti-Smoking Commercials

By now most have viewed at least one of the HHS anti-smoking commercials featuring victims of various cancers and other ailments caused - they say - by smoking and tobacco use. It's a cliche but still true: these are our tax dollars at work. Your government commissioned these ads and purchased the airtime with your cash. HHS Secretary Sebelius and her minions risk another sort of medical problem - namely, rotator cuff injuries from patting themselves on the back for foisting these grotesque, voyeuristic images on an unsuspecting, undeserving public. This isn't a tear in the eye of Iron Eyes Cody when he sees litter along a roadway; this are 21st century bureaucratic bullies grabbing you by the scruff of your proverbial neck and rubbing your nose in the misfortunes of others under the rubric of education.

Let's stipulate that smoking is injurious to health and has strong links to cancer and other diseases. A reasonable person might also point out that anti-smoking campaigns have been in place for most of our lives and cigarette packages have carried anti-smoking messages for just as long, making these ads surplus to requirements. They rely on the Fallacy Of The Dramatic Example by showing the worst examples (apart from actual corpses - but let's not give them any ideas). But extreme scenarios involving death or disfigurement could be conjured up for nearly every activity in life: driving a car, skydiving, skiing, or even slipping in the bathtub.

The ads and the sentiments expressed are based in cowardice. If the substance being discussed is maiming and killing indiscriminately, why has it not been completely banned from use? We know the answer - and so does HHS - but the same government sponsoring this modern-day Elephant Man sideshow is hopelessly, er, addicted to the taxes generated by smoking. The ends-justify-the-means crowd have an enduring blind spot on this issue. Remember governors and state attorneys general rubbing their hands with glee over tobacco settlement money? It was supposed to be a twin panacea for public health and public finance. Where did all those billions go? And why aren't we all hale and hearty by now as a result of state benificences?

As someone once said, the Bill of Rights should be amended to include The Right To Be Left The Hell Alone. Most of us have precious little leisure time available. When we choose to allocate some of those hours to watching TV i.e. escapism, we do not and should not wish to be subjected to graphic video of amputations, prosthetics, voice kazoos, etc. when we are simply attempting to relax for a few fleeting moments before heading back to work (at least for those still lucky and/or disciplined enough to do so) in order to pay the salaries of Sebelius et al.

Elections mean pandering, and the ongoing political battles over health care mean that the disabled and the ill are often targets of such pandering. We are always scolded with 'person first, disability second' by many of these same DC health commissars. Don't rob them of their dignity or their humanity, we are told (and don't forget the inevitable ADA lawsuits). To them I respond: if you want dignity, then Step #1 is to refuse any offer to act as a political show pony. Surely by now you know that after a few seconds under the lights with a candidate for a photo op, you will be as distant a memory as last Thursday's lunch order. Ignore the blather about cautionary tales, etc. You cannot set a good example by setting a bad example, therefore anyone claiming to be your champion is lying. If you are self-aware enough to realize what your lifestyle has wrought on your body, then please be self-aware enough to realize when you are being exploited.

Leftists have a cult-like obsession with disease and death. Look at their pet causes: environmentalism (i.e. man is voluntarily poisoning his world and in turn himself), euthanasia (they've convinced millions that 'doctor-assisted suicide' is not an oxymoron) and, of course, abortion. They are equally obsessed with playing God, deciding who is worthy of medical care, drugs, and operations, as well as the nonstop coercion of food providers and consumers with laws, bans, restrictions, labels, etc.

Proponents of the ads will claim that shocking images are the only way to get people's attention and change their behavior. But why and how should government be in charge of our attention i.e. our thoughts? References to Orwell and 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' are easy but in this case they are absolutely relevant. As before, an intelligent, educated and free people should neither need nor want any central authority attempting to dictate what to think or how to behave. The individuals appearing in these ads and those subjected to watching them have one thing in common: a government constantly attempting to manipulate them in order to amass more power.