Crusader Rabbit, I HATE YOU!

I positively HATE Crusader Rabbits. All those sanctimonious, self appointed do-gooders who make it their life’s work to interfere with the rights and freedoms of others and who’s moral arrogance lets them see themselves as the anointed guardians of all us lower beings.

I have watched aghast over recent years as the anti smoking lobby grew from a faceless group of motley rejects of some forgotten Temperance Union mentality, to a full blown faceless mass of new age wowsers. Each little victory that they had over the rights of the smokers seemed to spur them to ever increasing confidence and determination.

Smoking, let’s agree, isn’t considered a particularly healthy habit. We’ve been listening for years now to the unending litany of dreadful debilitating diseases associated with the habit. It used to be, if you were foolish enough to smoke cigarettes, you risked reducing your personal health or, at very least, risked reducing your quality of life. Then we started to hear about the perils of passive smoking …. and learned how those evil smokers were killing the rest of us off as collateral damage in their insane quest for self annihilation. Its got so, you are almost certain to die a grizzly, horrible death if you so much as walk by a smoker.

The demands by the anti-smoking lobby for more and ever more restrictions upon smokers and smoking have been relentless We’ve watched these people being pushed, quite literally, further and further away from the decent folks in society. First, they were rejected from our workplaces and restaurants, then from our pubs and entertainment venues, then from public places generally and now we have yellow lines drawn a prescribed distance from the doorways of shopping centres …. lines over which no evil smoke puffing misfit may cross. Just in case they were still able to find any enjoyment from their disgusting habit, we made it mandatory for their cigarette packets to carry gruesome photos of smoking induced diseases coupled with dire health warnings in bold print. We’ve eliminated them from our buses, our trains and our aircraft and in recent times, we’ve even managed to draw into question, their right to indulge their habits in their own homes or private vehicles, if there are other people present. We have even driven the evil purveyors of the dreaded tobacco from our sports fields and denied them the right to advertise their disgusting wares in the media.

There are actually people making a very good living for themselves as professional do-gooders, crusading against the evil that is smoking. There’s a government funded ‘quit’ campaign, complete with staff and tax funded budget, as well as the Anti Cancer Council, just to name two that come to mind. And I’m sure that with each new victory over the evil that is smoking, there’s a clinking of champagne glasses in the halls of such organisations. And THAT is what brings me to the point of this little essay.

The target of the campaign against smoking seems almost to have been a random affair and could have served its soldiers just as well, had it been a campaign against fast food or against inadequate housing maintenance. How can I make such a ludicrous claim? Two things. Firstly, one of those issues; a crusade against the evils of fast food is just now kicking off. And as soon as the do-gooders find a way to cash in on some government tax funds to make a career of it, I reckon the fast food industry will be in deep do-do. And secondly, the almost fanatical, frenzied, zealous campaign against smoking has occurred while society, at the very same time has virtually ignored a far worse substance abuse issue. So I have to conclude that taking on the smokers of the world was considered a soft target by the do-gooders. Alcohol, on the other hand……. Let’s face it, lots of the anti-smoking crowd probably enjoy a tipple, a nice cheese and red wine session probably makes a fitting backdrop for the celebration of the latest win over whatever evil we are fighting this week!

So lets consider, just for a moment, the basic arguments against smoking. It is bad for health, both of smokers as well as other people who are subjected to exposure to cigarette smoke. It causes debilitative illness, early invalidity in some individuals and imposes a significant cost on the rest of society which has to provide health care for the victims. It probably could be linked to causing occasional accidents also. The image of the dropped cigarette butt in the lap of a person driving a vehicle immediately springs to mind. I’m sure there are lots of other issues that I haven’t thought of.

No-one ever wanted to talk about the potential benefits of smoking and I haven’t heard anyone yet, suggest a link between the decrease in cigarette smoking within the community and the new epidemic of anxiety and depression amongst the population. I recall hearing of a report prepared by some element of the tobacco industry which actually dared to notice that having folks die earlier due to smoking might save governments a fortune in age pension payments, as well as reducing the actual period of having to provide aged and health care for the elderly! That report was in an Eastern Bloc country, if memory serves and it was only reported here with the appropriate tone of moral indignation.

But what of alcohol. Alcohol currently still enjoys the social seal of approval and there’s no crowd of government funded zealots, hell bent on stamping out peoples’ right to consume alcohol. Obviously its not considered anywhere near as socially negative as tobacco. Even though ………

Alcohol has an immediate, detrimental effect on cognitive and motor function, even when consumed in moderate quantities.

Alcohol is highly addictive.

The overuse of alcohol causes a whole range of debilitative diseases in its victims.

Persons who are inebriated become a physical menace, not only to themselves, but to other persons, even people who have no connection whatever to the drunk individual.

Inebriated people suffer impairment of normal defensive faculties, potentially becoming victims of physical violence, rape and abuse.

Inebriated people lose their normal social inhibitions, resulting in behaviours which are normally suppressed, often resulting in social disruption, and violence.

Overuse of alcohol is a major cause of road carnage, involving death and injury, not just to users of alcohol, but to innocent non-users as well.

Alcohol abuse disrupts family life and often creates violence, financial hardship and emotional distress both to the alcohol user, as well as to innocent family members.

Society faces crippling costs in the fight against alcohol abuse, both in the (often unsuccessful) rehabilitation of victims, as well as health costs in caring for alcohol induced medical conditions.

The medical costs to society, of caring for and rehabilitating the victims of alcoholism … those who are the innocent, non using victims …. road accident and assault victims, for example, seems to be largely undocumented and unmeasured.

Every day, non-users of alcohol suffer injury and death from the activities of alcohol users. Is that passive drinking? I’m sure its an inconvenient truth. And unlike passive smoking, where a person probably requires an endless exposure to second hand smoke, before any likely measurable ill efects become apparent, dying at the hands of an alcohol abuser requires just one single encounter.

How any thinking person could imagine that alcohol consumption isn’t a significantly greater evil than smoking ever was, continues to baffle me. Perhaps the do-gooders thought that taking on the alcohol industry is too great a challenge. The history of the US experiment in prohibition has perhaps left an indelible mark. And when we finally look like we have the ultimate defeat of the smokers in sight; when we feared we just might have to take up the alcohol problem as the next cause to keep us employed, along comes the fast food industry ….. a new whipping boy for our moral indignation …. a much easier target than the alcohol industry and something that we won’t have to give up personally. We can, after all, afford to dine out in a proper establishment, away from the unwashed masses. We can just save all those fat people from themselves and we can celebrate our new moral victories over a nice Chardonay.  We don’t even have to look at a gruesome photo of a road accident victim on every bottle!

The wowser set are hypocritical at best and like all do-gooders, they inflame themselves with a view of their importance by imagining that they are involved in some noble quest with right on their side. Well, if they were truly concerned about taking on the ills of society, I think they’d be far more concerned about the scourge of alcohol abuse.  Personally, I think they are just cowards and bullies, taking a swipe at the liberties of others, while giving up nothing themselves.

I see modern day Crusader Rabbits like the puritans of yesteryear, seeking to impose their views of right and wrong on the rest of society. They are like haemorrhoids on the backside of society and, while they aren’t really doing us a scrap of real good, we are painfully aware of their existence. How I wish someone would create a form of moral myxomatosis and save us from Crusader Rabbits.

Andrew Caddle 20130812


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