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Accepting the Absurd

The recent mass shooting in Aurora underscores the absurdities we countenance in our society when we allow industries to buy off our politicians, write our laws, and bankroll lobbying campaigns to get them passed. All to “legitimize” the sale of products that annihilate us.

Making it easy for criminals and deranged individuals to acquire assault weapons that fire 100-round clips is lunacy. Yet there are lawmakers who would walk over dead bodies to protect a gun-crazed perpetrator’s “basic freedom” as Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin characterized it. Where does it stop? Nukes? Life, liberty and pursuit of nukes? We condemn Iran’s possession of weapons-grade plutonium. Would we defend the right of our citizens to own it?

But the lives lost in Aurora and all the other murderous rampages in recent times, tragic though they are, pale alongside the wholesale destruction of human life wreaked by other industries that rely on government complicity to thrive.

Take tobacco’s decades-long campaign to not only glamorize deadly cigarette smoking, but insidiously suggest it’s healthy. This mother of all preposterous TV ads, titled “More Doctors Smoke Camels”, is the perfect example of how companies try to gull us into consuming the agents of our demise:

The lung cancer deaths that mushroomed because commercials like these were allowed to proliferate until 1971 was tantamount to government sanctioned genocide. Somehow we found our sanity, overcame daunting forces of money and political power, however long it took, and stopped them.

People still smoke. They can still buy cigarettes. But since 1970 the percentage of Americans 18 to 65 who smoke has declined by almost fifty percent. No surprise, lung cancer deaths have dropped dramatically, too. Smoking is no longer the cool, fashionable fixture of life it used to be. Indeed, most people view it as a dirty, unhealthy habit and are all too happy to boot its practitioners outdoors to bask in their own noxious fumes.

If we accomplished this against big tobacco, we can certainly demand that reasonable restrictions be applied to weapons of mass murder. Wouldn’t you think?

July 27, 2012 • Posted in: Uncategorized

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