When did you last buy a packet of fags? Cigarette smoking used to be cool – you could buy gleaming gold cartons of Dunhill, or stylish Rothmans in royal blue, or Marlboros with the image of a rugged cowboy. Then the anti-smoking fascists decided you needed to make ‘informed choices’ when you inhaled the weed hated by the National Socialists.
Our goose-stepping politicians passed laws forcing tobacco manufacturers to decorate cigarette packets with gruesome photographs of horribly diseased people. The images, not surprisingly, meet the required multicultural standards. There is a Chinese bloke with lip tumours, an Indian man with rotting gums, an Anglo-Saxon woman with diseased lungs, and men of all ethnicities suffering from impotence.
The images are hideous, revolting, grotesque and almost entirely fraudulent. ‘There is not the slightest proof that either the plain packaging or the concealed displays have reduced smoking in this country, still less the hilarious photographs of very ill and unhappy people which now, by law, must adorn every packet,’ writes Rod Liddle in the Spectator.
To see, or not to see, that is the question. The anti-smoking brigade coerces smokers to see offensive images of people who look like residents of the leper colony of Molokai before the arrival of Fr Damien. So why does the pro-abortion brigade violently object when pro-life campaigners display images of unborn children being murdered in their mother’s wombs?
If a woman is going to have an abortion doesn’t she have the right to make an ‘informed choice’ by seeing a baby cut to pieces and suctioned out of her womb into a glass canister? Or, even worse, doesn’t she have the right to catch a glimpse of the abortionist grabbing, twisting and pulling at whatever the forceps get hold of and then crushing the baby’s head with the forceps to allow it to be removed?
To see, or not to see, that is the question. Pro-abortionists are hurling vitriol at Abort 67, a pro-life group that has been campaigning on the Isle of Man against the Abortion Reform Bill 2018 which seeks to greatly liberalise the current abortion laws. Abort 67’s Aisling Hubert described it as ‘one of the most extreme abortion Bills in Europe’.
When the group arrived on the island in December, they were met with a barrage of hate from people who objected to the images of aborted foetuses on display. Abort 67 is back and is demonstrating in the capital city Douglas, as this week the Bill will be tabled before Tynwald, the Isle of Man’s Parliament, where it is being promoted by GP Dr Alex Allinson.
As pastor of St Augustine’s Church, I have been involved in a couple of the demonstrations and have witnessed some of the hatred first-hand. Dr Allinson has described the display as deliberately offensive and shocking, but has defended the group’s right to demonstrate using images.
To see, or not to see, that is the question. Every major social reform movement in history has used images to expose the evil it is fighting against.
Slavery was abolished only after the beneficiaries of the abominable trade were repeatedly exposed to images of the suffering slaves. The great abolitionist Thomas Clarkson ‘reproduced one of the most famous political images of all time: the drawing of the slave ship Brookes with its living and dying people stacked like cordwood and chained from head to toe in suffocating and terrifying conditions,’ writes Paul Gordon Lauren in his book The Evolution of International Human Rights: Visions Seen.
He says the images ‘forced viewers to confront not sterile charts, graphs, maps, or accounting legers – but human beings. The precision and eloquent starkness of this illustration gripped not only the mind but the emotions, and revealed the power of images to evoke that essential ingredient of empathy. It allowed readers to see and feel what previously could hardly be imagined in terms of the raw fear, terror and pain experienced by so many innocent victims’.
Opponents of child labour were getting nowhere in their efforts to outlaw the despicable practice until Lewis Hine began showing shocking photos of children being brutalised in mines and mills and factories. Hine later reported that many viewers were angrier with him for showing these abuses than they were at the bosses who were committing them.
Martin Luther King knew that there would be no civil rights movement without sickening photos of black people being beaten to their knees for trying to register to vote. This shocking imagery convinced the public that racial injustice was an evil of far greater enormity than they had imagined. It was the scandalous images of the racist sheriff’s deputies brutalising peaceful protesters that shifted public opinion and so created the pressure for changed public policy.
Like the tobacco industry, the abortion industry is a multi-billion-pound exploitative business that relies on silence, ignorance, deception and euphemism to rake in big bucks. On the streets of Douglas, I personally witnessed people stopping and telling us how they had changed their minds on abortion after seeing the images of murdered babies.
There is a nauseous irony when you juxtapose the fascistic efforts of the anti-smoking Gestapo to terrorise smokers by forcing them to see fake images of decomposing body parts with the fascistic efforts of pro-abortionists to terrorise pro-lifers by refusing to let them display genuine images of babies vacuum-suctioned to death in the womb.
The irony peaks when pregnant women are relentlessly targeted with messages portraying them as ‘bad mothers’ and demanding that they stop smoking because smoking is bad for the baby. Most remarkably, and with no sense of hypocrisy, anti-smoking groups shamelessly use ‘fetal images that parallel those publicised by the antiabortion movement in an attempt to elicit an emotional attachment by a pregnant woman to her baby-to-be,’ writes Laury Oaks in Smoking and Pregnancy: The Politics of Fetal Protection.
The irony has reached a cacophonous climax in the Vatican. Last month, Pope Francis banned the sale of cigarettes in the Vatican. ‘No profit can be legitimate if it puts lives at risk,’ said a Vatican statement. The ban comes into effect this month. Last week, Pope Francis honoured Dutch politician and vocal agitator for abortion rights Lilianne Ploumen with the pontifical medal of knighthood.
Smoking is evil; murdering babies is fine. Adolf Hitler would applaud.