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Friday, 12 October 2012

Mean-Spirited Horrible People

You know those professional anti-smoker campaigners who say they care about smokers?  Don't believe them.

Now before I get into that, let me say that I can appreciate irony and black humour as much as anyone, perhaps more than most. I have a wicked, dark sense of humour. Sometimes people have no idea if I was joking, because I usually say things deadpan. If I get the sense that someone thinks I was being serious, I can tell them it was a joke. Once people get to know me, they realise not to take the dark things I say at face value. I am, after all, trying to make them laugh.

Sometimes we laugh and joke about tragedies as a means of coping with how awful things are. We don't do it to be hateful or mean-spirited. It's not even a question of right or wrong, offensive or inoffensive, although political correctness has tilted the landscape in favour of it being unacceptable, often with legal consequences if we go by recent events. There can be humour in most anything. I believe there is a bit of darkness in everyone, and one way of managing that darkness is to laugh at it. 

Some people find dead baby jokes funny, because these are often absurdly implausible and so awful in their bad taste that they transcend all vestiges of common decency and float in the murky realm of black improbability.  The majority of these jokes are not malicious, nor are they aimed at actual baby deaths and real people's tragedies (although some are indeed). They are generic by design and they are not meant to hurt anyone, yet some people (859 people in the UK at the time of this writing) are genuinely aggrieved by such jokes so much that they believe government should do something about them.

Old Warner Brothers cartoons (Bugs Bunny and Road Runner for instance) are a perfect example of using using over the top violence and black humour to make you laugh. Perhaps it helps a great deal that we know these cartoons are not real, that the hand-drawn violence depicted in glorious artistic detail is meted out on fictional characters in a fictional two-dimensional universe. The same goes for many campy horror films. The violence is often so extreme and bizarre that it is simultaneously disgusting and funny.  Sam Raimi's Evil Dead movies are a brilliant example of camp horror.

But the above are all fictional things, and that makes it easier and more socially acceptable to laugh at them.

It's an entirely different thing when we laugh at the circumstances and tragedies of real people. Joking about real people can be just as funny to some people as laughing at cartoon scenarios. It's not nice nor politically correct; it's usually inappropriate for polite company, but that inappropriateness coupled with the darkness within each of us makes many people laugh nevertheless. Quite simply, some people laugh because they are shocked at how inappropriate the joke is. And some laugh because they are shocked that the joke teller had the temerity to say exactly what they had also been thinking but would never dare say aloud themselves for fear offending others. Perhaps that laughter is a form of releasing the guilt they felt. I don't know, everyone is different.

With every inappropriate joke, it all comes down to the joke teller's intent. Is the joker trying to make you laugh, to bring out that darkness in you, or is the joker being incredibly hateful, derisory, and mean-spirited by ridiculing those who they disagree with and falsely dressing up their beliefs as jokes and attempting to pass it off as "irony."

This sense of passing off one's hate as irony brings us back to the anti-smoker crusaders. To be honest, I wasn't certain if I was going to write about this.  Knowing my own inclination for black humour and my appreciation for it, I had to sleep on this one before coming to a decision on whether to write this post or ignore it. Am I singling out these people because I strongly disagree with their views on tobacco control? Is my personal bias affecting me in some way, making me read more into something than what it really was?  Am I just being a prick about this?  I wasn't sure yesterday, so I talked to someone else about it for their opinion, and then I slept on it.

When I woke up this morning, it was the first thing on my mind and all I could think about was the human tragedy aspect of it. Some people are going to lose their jobs, their livelihoods because of this due to no fault of their own.  That's not funny.  If the situation had gone another way and unnoticed (or if no one bothered to care) then people could have become very ill and likely would have died a horrible, painful death from caesium-137 radiation poisoning.  Not funny either.

Upon waking, I came to the conclusion that only mean-spirited, horrible people would find irony and/or humour in other people suffering; that their agenda to destroy tobacco companies, tobacco farmers and those who use tobacco products has clearly blinded them to the reality that there was a huge potential for gross harm far beyond any dangers that smoking may cause to some smokers. We don't laugh at people who get cancer because that's cruel. We don't laugh at people who get radiation sickness because that's hateful and mean-spirited. When your beliefs and ideology makes you hate things so much that you fail to recognise that people will suffer, then you're an asshole.  Only the True Believers in the Public Health religion would find irony and humour in this, and in my opinion, that makes them evil.

So what's the story?
"Fukushima tobacco contaminated with radiation"
Japan's largest cigarette maker has cancelled the purchase of tobacco leaves from Fukushima after they were found to be contaminated with elevated levels of radiation. Japan Tobacco says routine checks of dried tobacco leaves from Fukushima have revealed that some of the crop is contaminated with radioactive caesium above the company's safety limit.
See, JTI did the right thing here by refusing to purchase contaminated, radioactive tobacco, and you can see how the True Believers in the tobacco control industry would relish this event. On the other hand, what if JTI had bought and used the tobacco anyway?  Can you imagine how the tobacco control industry would have relished that as well?  They would have had a field day.  But JTI made the right decision, and the only thing left for the True Believers is satirical "irony."

To wit, here is the green-energy campaigning schoolteacher Fran Barlow's tweet about it (a chronic re-tweeter of the Root of All Evil's tweets, by the way):

Naturally, such delicious hateful irony appeals to the Root of All Evil's prurience, and he tweeted thusly:

And just so you don't think it's an isolated event and limited to these Australian twats from hell, here's another piece of shit's take on it, a guy named John M. Watson who works for ASH Scotland:

This brings us to a on-line journalist named Adam Westlake, who works for the Japan Daily Press website. He's a guy who is clearly trying to make a joke out of it, but it falls flat on its face and merely comes off as being insensitive and cruel to any smoker who gets cancer (emphasis added):
Smokers in Japan are in for a bit of an eye-opener about their already unhealthy habit: Japan Tobacco Inc. has stated that some of its dried tobacco leaves coming from Fukushima Prefecture this year tested positive for radioactive cesium at levels above the 100 becquerels per kilogram limit. While this shouldn’t cause a panic, as the tobacco conglomerate will cancel the order for the 4.5 tons of leaves, but would it really have been that much worse if some cigarettes, which already cause cancer, had some radiation thrown in too?
Why, yes, Adam, it would have been a lot worse.  There's a huge difference between accepting the risk that smoking may cause cancer, and unknowingly using a product that is contaminated with radioactive caesium. This attitude towards smokers is what denormalisation of smoking is all about. Smokers are sub-human in these people's minds.

But what about the farmers?  Does anyone care about them?  Well, no. Tobacco farmers are every bit as guilty as tobacco companies in the Root of All Evil's view.  For example:

By the way, 30 million farmers is greater than combined population of Australia and New Zealand

Or this:

Simon Chapman clearly believes that anyone who has anything to do with tobacco should be destroyed. I doubt he cares about smokers. He only wants to destroy the tobacco industry and anyone who gets in his way must be obliterated too. His lack of empathy or sympathy for those who do suffer is astonishing considering that he claims that he's trying to protect people. He's not, though. This makes him a hateful cunt.

And yeah, let's talk about suffering. The Japanese farmers are suffering from this incident due to no fault of their own. They didn't cause the nuclear incident in their area. All they do is grow tobacco. That's not a crime... yet. The real story, the real human tragedy can be read here (note: the article is badly translated from Japanese to English, so it is difficult to read and more than a bit weird (possibly a bit funny in its own way due to the translation), yet the sentiment of hardship and struggling is clear and you need to read the whole thing to really understand it all):
7 years ago, at the age of 27, Naoya Ohashi from his grandparents who took over the farm, continue to maintain their tobacco.He is very proud to be able to stably supply against a variety of diseases of tobacco.He said, when forced to dispose of so much seedling when, he is ready to collapse.


Fukushima growers because land nuclear contamination and had to give up a smoke, this makes a lot of farmers to leave, and this is planted tobacco.But for the cigarette quality and public health, the tobacco companies of Japan before the acquisition of tobacco leaves of a radioactive substance undertakes detecting strictly, if exceed the standard, the tobacco can only be destroyed.The farmers strike would be great, because once the tobacco was declared the death penalty, Fukushima Prefecture tobacco planting industry will face the crowning calamity.
Better translation: Farmers who historically grow tobacco in the Fukushima Prefecture have had to dispose of their tobacco crops due to caesium contamination. Many farmers had to abandon the area and leave because they couldn't survive.  Those who remain are struggling to get by, since they cannot sell their crops. These people may lose their farms, and then what will they do? None of this is their fault.

But you won't find people like the Root of All Evil, Fran Barlow, or John Watson giving a flying fuck about the Japanese farmers' plight.  I wonder if they all secretly hope that all of the farmers in Fukushima will die from caesium poisoning themselves.

It wouldn't surprise me if they do think that, because they are all mean-spirited horrible people.