Magazine article Insight on the News

Therapy-State Feels Your Pain

Magazine article Insight on the News

Therapy-State Feels Your Pain

Article excerpt

Some months ago billboards insulting smokers began appearing along the highways. In one we see a young, white male biting a cigarette, with the caption "Butt munch!" In another we see a young, white male whose head morphs into cigarette ash, with the caption "Butt head!"

In these days of extreme sensitivity, when we can be forced out of our jobs for using a word such as "niggardly" simply because it sounds like a word which we can only refer to as the "n-word" (as happened last year to an aide to Washington Mayor Tony Williams), or when we might be forced into psychological counseling reminiscent of Red Guard "reeducation" for calling homosexuals "fags" and uttering other stupidities (as has happened to Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker), the billboards are jolting. What other group besides smokers could be so publicly reviled? Imagine, for instance, a billboard of a man clutching his sides and retching over the caption, "Sloppy drunk!"

Impossible.

We know that alcohol surely can be as destructive as tobacco, but in the instance of alcoholics we would be admonished to sympathize with their disease, have compassion for their weakness and so on. The same with, say, cocaine. Smokers, however, not only are fair game, but derision of them is positively encouraged.

In his book After Liberalism, Mass Democracy in the Managerial State, historian Paul Gottfried charts the rise of government's increasing intrusion into the lives of individuals, managing for them what formerly was considered personal (such as health care) and dictating what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable values and attitudes. …

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