|A Big Tobacco poseur trying to blow smoke in our eyes?|
After putting the last touches on my "the dark side of Hitchens" blog post, I got to thinking about 9/11, his being one of the first people to use the word "Islamofascism" and similar, and a newspaper column I wrote on the first anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.
I tied those thoughts together with Christopher Hitchens' known smoking history, his claims to be standing up against totalitarianism throughout his life, and his attitudes toward control of smoking in public places, and knew I had another blog post to write, even if it further angered people who want to think of nothing other than Secular St. Christopher.
So, here goes, starting with a synopsis of that 2002 newspaper column.
In that column, while not minimizing 9/11, I reminded readers of how many other things in America, usually recurring situations whose lessening was a matter of public policy in general or public health policy in particular, killed the same amount of people as al Qaeda did on 9/11, albeit perhaps over a week's time, or a month's rather than a day's time.
For example, I said diabetes kills X people per month, and is at least controllable, especially with Type 2, through diet. I said traffic accidents killed about 50,000 per year, and that safer driving, driving with seat belts, and driving while sober could eliminate many of those deaths.
Finally, I said that cigarettes killed about as many people every two days as al-Qaeda did that one day. And then killed about as many more the next two days. And again, the next two, ad infinitum.
Well, there's no "Big Sugar," re diabetes, not really. And even a "Big Alcohol" possible role in DWI fatalities is small.
Big Tobacco? Quite different. Now, that column didn't go beyond this, because that wasn't its focus.
But, I am now doing so, and going to riff on Big Tobacco and some of the issues Hitchens claimed to fight for, or against.
My focus now is, not just on Big Tobacco per se, but how, via being a poseur for Big Tobacco, Hitchens was a liar about what he claimed to stand for.
No, not just morally or psychogically inconsistent. Not even contradicting himself in a Whitmanesque, multitudes-containing way.
But lying to himself (and to us), and, I believe, quite consciously, all while being an asshole, to get in the last part of the title. More below the fold.
Arguably, just as much a terror group in some ways as al-Qaeda.
If anything is totalitarian among American big business, in corrupting government, corrupting scientists willing to go on the take, and creating spawn-off groups and tactics like Big Oil's funding of climate change denialists, it's Big Tobacco. If anything in America takes the Huxleyan Brave New World path to overthrowing individual freedom by manipulating chemical additives to increase addiction to one of the world's most addicting substances, then lies about that, then lies about lying about that, it's Big Tobacco. If any industry is less egalitarian while promoting PR bullshit, it escapes me at that time.
Big Tobacco kills as many people every two days as al-Qaeda killed on 9/11. And that's in the U.S. alone.
Beyond that, as noted above, just as Islamic terrorists are reactionary in sociology (of course, Hitch was a bit anti-female himself at times in his own small way) and anti-science, so, too, is Big Tobacco. It's never flat-out admitted the tobacco-cancer connection, or tobacco's known connection to heart disease, strokes, COPD and more.
And, let's not forget, through advertising, marketing, branding and products like menthol cigarettes, Big Tobacco disproportionately targeted the poor, especially minorities, who were allegedly the type of people for whom Hitch stood up. And, like Big Oil, knew that it was being deliberately poisonous, not just with the cancer from tobacco itself, but all the additives.
Beyond that, Big Tobacco continues to fund "research" that actively attempts to DISprove known, scientifically proven problems with secondhand smoke -- secondhand smoke that, in the name of 'freedom," Hitch insisted in literally blowing up people's skirts or getting in their eyes.
Therefore, Hitchens' known readiness to violate public smoking bans at restaurants and elsewhere was NOT standing up for liberty. Instead, re secondhand smoke, it was standing up for violating other people's liberty. It was standing up for tobacco fascism. It was standing up for anti-science. It was standing up for about everything Hitchens claimed to oppose. It was standing up for being selfish in the name of a quasi-Randian pseudo-liberty.
And, at this moment, as I write, I realize Hitchens was in many ways like Ed Abbey, another anarchist who claimed to be other things, but was really a non-intellectual anarchist and an asshole as part of hat.
Or, in plain English, a brat who often thought rules were for others, and that they were anointed to be opposers of the rules.
In both cases, alcohol fueled their anarchic brattiness. And, in both cases, their cultic fans refuse to admit that fact. And, I've never liked the myth of Cactus Ed.
It's too, too, late to do much to stop that myth.
But, without giving Christians any fuel, I'd like to stop the myth of Secular Saint Christopher before it goes too far down the road.
A brat who was also a charmer, or a poseur as I put it, is a dangerous combination. Had Hitchens been a politician, he might even have restricted liberty in the name of defending it. Isaiah Berlin, per another questioner of the myth of SSC, was right about negative liberty being better than positive liberty.
Well, the half a million Americans a year Big Tobacco helps kill with the help of people like Hitchens can't protest his myth, any more than the 100,000 dead Iraqis Hitchens was willing to write off as collateral losses in the War on Terror.
And, if I have pissed off a few people in writing this, fine. Because, as I really thought about this, namely Hitchens' on smoking as asshole, brat and poseur, it pissed me off.