RightJab: Great Smokers in History

Monday, November 22, 2004

Great Smokers in History

My Great-Grandfather, Grandfather, all my uncles, my father, and I smoke. Its what the men in my family are particularly good at. We also dabble in alcohol and snooker. These proud traditions have been handed down from father to son since the first RightJab escaped from Ireland in the mid 1800s to establish a humble debt collection service in one of the less touristy areas of Glasgow, Scotland.

I have fond memories of my carefree days as a young child, when after my chores, which consisted of stealing coal, milk, and newspapers from the neighbours, I would sit for hours with the men while they smoked, drank, strategized, argued, and occasionally fought. The air was blue with a mixture of pipe and cigarette smoke, and sometimes my cousins and I would see who could go the longest without blinking their eyes. It was all great fun, and we marvelled at the adult males whose eyes never got red, or teary no matter how heavy the smoke got. Those were the days!

Alas, the government has decided that the traditions of the RightJab family are in fact criminal, and if I was to behave as my father and his father before him, I would be thrown in jail for child endangerment. I can't smoke in a pub, within 10 metres of a public building, in a restaurant, where I work (even if I own the building), and now there is even a plan to ban me from smoking in my own car!

All of this strikes me as somewhat contrary to what the men in my family believe. The men in my family, on numerous occasions (WWl, WWll, Korea) have gone to war to protect the rights of a man to be able to sit in a pub, drink whiskey, smoke cigarettes, play snooker and darts while speaking ENGLISH.

They did not go to war under the pretence of safeguarding their nation from the evils of fascism and communism so much as they went to war to preserve their own lives in the manner in which they wanted to live them. They were convinced that if the Germans made it across the channel, bratwurst would trump pork pies, the bundesliga would pre-empt the premier league,whiskey distilleries would be bulldozed and massive schnapps factories built in their place, and they would all be forced to wear lederhosen and socks with their sandals.

They went to war to put an end to the insufferably barbaric practise of rationing sugar, tea, cigarettes and whiskey. They were steadfast in their belief that Germany was not going to win its war against the common man, and they made the enemy pay dearly for it's transgressions.

They were happy and content with their meagre slice of the socio-political slice of the pie, but when threatened, they fought and died for what they considered their human rights.

Fast forward 50-60 years.

The Germans lost, the Soviet Union has crumbled in much the same fashion as its wall did, democracy is spreading slowly but surely to places in the world that no one ever thought it would, and the veterans who made it all possible are being told that they have to go outside to have a smoke.

Veterans (and anyone old enough to remember what Canada was like prior to Trudeau) are upset that what they perceive to be their rights and liberties have been taken away not by the Fascists or Communists of a foreign country, but by the elected officials of Canada.

These rights dont start and stop with smoking and drinking. Rather, they extend to what kind of cookie you can eat, what kind of dog you can own, your obligation to wear a helmet on a bicycle and seatbelts in a car, your inability to own firearms, and the kind of medical treatment you can or can not receive. The list is amazingly long, and quite possibly endless, as new laws are seemingly being written daily.

Canada has previously gone to war to stop the spread of Socialism, but now, according to the Liberal Party of Canada, socialist policies are just what this country need to sort itself out. And, thanks to Canada's Socialist Party, the proletariat will no longer be forced to read the ingredients label on bags of cookies, chips, and pies. This will allow the people to shop faster and possibly free up their social calendar to allow them to get to the anti-poverty demonstrations, and Pro-Saddam marches on time.