I came across a link to an old(ish) newspaper article recently, and it made me think about the cruelty similarly “casually handed out” by those who have taken it upon themselves to police our lifestyle choices.
“She, like most of the staff, felt justified in the cruelty they casually handed out. She accepted without question the Ravensbruck philosophy that the prisoners were a burden on the Fatherland.
Binz felt the same. She told an old school friend that the prisoners were all Godless criminals and prostitutes and treating them harshly was the only way to keep them in check.”
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
And now we have our own Binz in the shape of Deborah Arnott, although she couches her cruelty in the guise of ‘helping’ prisoners quit smoking. But the principle remains the same. They are prisoners, captives, so their lives are not important. All that matters is the agenda, and where better to enforce your will than in places where there is no escape; no recourse to normal decency. So at the behest of our latter day camp guard, smoking is being banned in prisons and secure mental hospitals throughout the UK.
And the lame excuse for this latest spite to emanate from the bowels of Tobacco Control? To ‘protect’ the staff and other inmates, many, if not most of whom smoke anyway.
“But”, I hear you say, “What about outside in the grounds? There need be no exposure to the deadly toxins produced by tobacco if the smokers are in an open-air environment”.
Well, of course, that is the obvious solution (if you’ve bought into the SHS rubbish).
But then we all know from way back that smoking bans have nothing to do with health; not the health of the smoker; not the health of any non-smoking bystanders. ‘Health’ is merely used as a tool, a justification for the furtherance of the agenda.
This is all common knowledge, and has been discussed countless times.
What interests me about this, though, is the ‘casual cruelty’ displayed by the people who lobby for these laws (that naturally never apply to the lives of the lobbyists).
I think Bertrand Russell could easily have had Ms Arnott in mind when he said that “the infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented Hell.”
But what makes some people cruel and indifferent to the travails of those in their power? Because without a shadow of a doubt, mandating a blanket ban on smoking in jails and secure mental hospitals is a pure act of cruelty.
It’s called the spirit of abstraction, a term originally coined by Gabriel Marcel in his essay “The Spirit of Abstraction as a Factor Making for War,” and is defined as the practice of conceiving of people as functions rather than as human beings. In early American history a large segment of the population labeled African Americans as “slaves,” reducing their identity as human beings into an abstract idea only, freeing slave owners to consider slaves their property. Hitler convinced a majority of Germans to conceive of a segment of their population as “Jews,” abstracting their identity as human beings into something he convinced the German people was so inferior he was able to wipe out 6 million of them (not to mention half a million gypsies as well). Americans, in turn, abstracted the Japanese people into “Japs,” a derogatory term that reduced them from human beings with hopes, loves, families, and fears into the “enemy” on whom it was therefore eventually permissible to drop two atomic bombs.
In the examples from the quote above, the slaves in early America and the Jews in Nazi Germany were transformed via propaganda and peer pressure into an underclass. And as an underclass, they were sub-human, and not deserving of compassion. And such it has become with smokers. Through an ever more disparaging propaganda campaign, smokers have been turned into an underclass, undeserving of compassion. And with that withdrawal of respectability from ‘smokers’ as a group, so then cruelty at many levels was tacitly sanctioned by society.
However, all that said, most of us, even if we were in a position to deprive others of something (particularly something which doesn’t impact us in any way whatsoever), would choose not to exercise that petty cruelty. Because, well, why? What’s the point? I personally derive no pleasure at all from the suffering or incarceration of others, and the last thing I would want to do is to increase their suffering by removing one of the few pleasures they have available to them.
And yet we have people the likes of Ms Arnott who actively work with enthusiasm to impose these extra miseries on other people, despite the fact that there is actually no need, nor any reason to do so. And as I already said, even if they actually believe the SHS charade (which I’m quite sure they don’t), there are innumerable ways to solve the ‘problem’ which could comfortably accommodate all parties.
So why? Why take the cruellest (and in the case of prisons, the most difficult and disruptive) option? What is it in the personality of people like Ms Arnott that makes them want to take the route that will cause maximum pain for all concerned (except, of course, Arnott and her coven of Tobacco Controllers)?
I realise that they need to keep the gravy train rolling, so new scares, new lies and more lobbying are part of that process, but the demands for blanket bans everywhere, ‘plain’ packaging etc etc are just batshit crazy. There is absolutely no need for it. All the ‘problems’ could have been addressed in a civilised manner, and everyone catered for.
So why the lust for the cruellest option?
Does the job make the people cruel, or do the cruel just find themselves attracted to those sorts of jobs?
Because to take the prison smoking ban as an example, its imposition has caused a great deal of unpleasantness for the 80% of the prison smoking population. It has deprived them of one of the few small pleasures left to them. Violence in prisons has escalated. There have been riots and fires set. Prisoners have been breaking rules to get a smoke, thus lessening their chance of parole, putting further strain on the system. In short, not only is the prison smoking ban cruel to the prisoners, it’s costing a fortune (which the taxpayer is footing the bill for) and disrupting the whole system. And for what? For a fraction of what it has cost the prison system so far, they could have built comfortable smoking rooms / shelters in every prison in the land. The whiners about SHS wouldn’t have anything to whine about, the prisoners who smoke would still be able to smoke, albeit probably with some added restrictions, and prison life would have carried on without rioting or additional violence.
So why did they opt for what was patently going to be the worst possible option on every level? Because it delivered maximum pain for all? No, I think it was because it delivered maximum pain for the smokers. All the rest is just collateral damage, and can be ignored. What would seem to be paramount is to impose the maximum amount of expense, humility and discomfiture on smokers that is possible with any given legislation. And a mindset like that infers inherent cruelty.
“All cruelty springs from weakness.”
Which may well be true, but when those who are cruel by nature insinuate themselves into positions of power, that weakness is a burden on us all.