Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do

PART IV:
SIX CHAPTERS IN SEARCH OF A SHORTER BOOK

HYPOCRITES


Hypocrisy—
prejudice with a halo.
AMBROSE BIERCE
THROUGHOUT HISTORY, few behaviors have been condemned more often and more soundly than hypocrisy. Almost 3,000 years ago, Homer wrote, "I detest that man, who hides one thing in the depths of his heart, and speaks forth another." In the sixth century B.C., Lao-tzu said, "To pretend to know when you do not know is a disease." In the fifth century B.C., Confucius said, "Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles," and "[The superior man] speaks according to his actions."
There seems to be little Jesus of Nazareth hated as much as hypocrisy; he condemned it more than anything else.
Jesus also claims that hypocrites "have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness" (Matthew 23:23). Peter advised, "Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind" (1 Peter 2:1).
In the fourteenth century, Geoffrey Chaucer called a hypocrite, "The smyler with the knife under the cloke." Shakespeare: "With devotion's visage and pious action we do sugar o'er the devil himself." Molire noticed an interesting consequence of hypocrisy, which is as true today as it was then: "Hypocrisy is a fashionable vice, and all fashionable vices pass for virtue."
During the Revolutionary War, Thomas Jefferson gave some insight into the underpinnings and history of hypocrisy:

Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites.


The prohibition law,
written for weaklings and derelicts,
has divided the nation,
like Gaul, into three parts—
wets, drys, and hypocrites.
FLORENCE SABIN
1931
Less than a hundred years later, ABRAHAM LINCOLN wrote:

Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except Negroes and foreigners and Catholics." When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy hypocrisy.

Leo Tolstoy (one of the people Lincoln might have met had he gone to Russia) observed:

Hypocrisy is anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be disguised.

One of the most perceptive observers of hypocrisy in our country, Mark Twain, was once told by a blustering tycoon, "Before I die, I mean to make a pilgrimage to the top of Mt. Sinai in the Holy Land and read the Ten Commandments aloud." "Why don't you stay right home in Boston," suggested Twain, "and keep them?"
Which leads us to the problem observed by Andr Gide, "The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity." People actually start to believe they are not being hypocritical; they say one thing and do another with impunity—with pride, in fact. They have told themselves so many rational lies about their deception, they deceive even themselves. Those who have lost track of their hypocrisy—especially those who begin to consider it virtuous—are the most dangerous hypocrites of all. Alas, when it comes to consensual crimes, they're the most prevalent form.

The only vice
that can not be forgiven
is hypocrisy.
WILLIAM HAZLITT
As Don Marquis pointed out, "A hypocrite is a person who—but who isn't?"
With respect to consensual crimes, hypocrisy is often spelled C-I-G-A-R-E-T-T-E-S.
More than 500,000 deaths each year in the United States are related to cigarette smoking. According to the American Council on Science and Health, cigarette smoking is the #1 cause of preventable death in the United States. Four of the five leading causes of death are related to cigarette smoking. One in six deaths in this country, 87% of all lung cancer deaths, and 30% of all other cancer deaths are tobacco related. Cigarettes are the #1 cause of heart disease, and heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States. Out of 100 regular smokers in the United States, one will be murdered, two will die in traffic accidents, and 25 will be killed by tobacco use.
And yet, not only are cigarettes perfectly legal and available everywhere, tobacco growers are subsidized by the federal government,[*FN] and cigarettes are advertised using beautiful young people and with such words as enjoy, refresh, and that perennial favorite, satisfaction.

[*FN] One of the most virulent supporters of consensual crime prosecution, Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, is also one of the most outspoken supporters of the tobacco industry and the federal government's tobacco-grower subsidies. This comes as no shock: North Carolina is the #1 tobacco-producing state in the nation. With towns such as Winston-Salem and Raleigh, who's surprised? In fact, North Carolina produces nearly 40% of the tobacco grown in this country. In his book about the tobacco industry, Merchants of Death, Larry C. White tells about a 1986 incident involving government subsidies to tobacco growers in which "it is only the taxpayers who are being shortchanged—for about $1 billion. . . . Jesse Helms is responsible for this boondoggle." Has anyone explained to Senator Helms how much more his state could make growing hemp?


It is now clear that disease risk
due to inhalation of tobacco smoke
is not limited
to the individual who is smoking.
C. EVERETT KOOP
Former U.S. Surgeon General
Cigarettes are our country's most serious drug problem. Three thousand teenagers start smoking each day—more than 1,000,000 each year. "A teenager who smokes more than one cigarette," says Andrew Weil, M.D., "has only a 15% chance of remaining a nonsmoker." More than 50% of all smokers start before they are eighteen. According to the American Cancer Society, "The pharmacologic and behavioral processes that determine addiction [to tobacco] are similar to those that determine addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine."
If you're wondering whether tobacco harms truly innocent victims, the answer is "Yes." More than 53,000 deaths each year are attributed to secondhand cigarette smoke—the smoke breathed by people near a smoker. A study of nonsmoking women whose husbands smoked a pack or more a day found that these women were twice as likely to develop lung cancer as women married to nonsmokers. Environmental tobacco smoke is the #3 preventable cause of death in the United States (just behind regular smoking and alcohol abuse).
"Well, she can leave the room when he smokes. She's still responsible," some might argue. All right. What about children? This from the American Cancer Society:

Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) poses additional health hazards for unborn and young children. Children exposed to secondhand smoke have increased risks of respiratory illnesses and infections, impaired development of lung function, and [a higher incidence of] middle ear infections. If a woman smokes while she's pregnant, her baby may be born with low birth weight, birth defects, chronic breathing difficulties and learning disabilities. Women who smoke a pack or more a day suffer about a 50% greater risk of infant mortality. Infants born to women who smoked during pregnancy are more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death syndrome.


Sentimentality
is a superstructure
covering brutality.
C. G. JUNG
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 9,000,000 children under the age of five are exposed daily to environmental tobacco smoke. People who justify enforcing laws against consensual activities because they may "set a bad example" for children need to look no further than this actual physical harm to which millions of parents expose their children—unborn and born—every day. (At least drug addicts don't keep giving their babies drugs after they're born.)
And then there's the cost. Cigarettes cost the economy $65 billion annually—to treat smoking-related diseases and in lost productivity. That's $2.17 per pack of cigarettes sold.
Meanwhile, we are exporting death. Cigarette exports have increased 200% since 1985. (In the same period, exports to Japan have increased 700%.) The world wants to visit Marlboro Country. Have we bothered to warn them that Marlboro Country is Boot Hill? Worldwide, cigarettes kill 2,500,000 each year.

This very night
I am going to leave off tobacco!
Surely there must be
some other world
in which this
unconquerable purpose
shall be realized.
CHARLES LAMB
1815
In addition to causing cancer, the cigarette industry itself is a cancer. Cigarettes are extremely profitable (drug dealing usually is). Cigarette companies take in about $28 billion in cigarette sales each year, and on that make a profit of more than $6 billion. That's a profit margin of 23%. Most companies are thrilled with a profit margin of 10%. (The national corporate average in 1991 was 6.9%.) Forbes magazine commented, "Only the Mint makes money more easily than cigarette companies." Ironically, it's because cigarettes are deadly that competition is low: other companies simply don't want to be involved in peddling death. (Addictions they don't mind; death, they do. Call them old-fashioned.) Six tobacco giants make practically every brand of cigarette sold in the United States. How do they avoid anti-trust or price-fixing proceedings? They simply argue that the more cigarettes cost, the better: fewer people will buy them; therefore, fewer people will smoke. As hypocrites often do, they play both sides of every coin—and they have a lot of coins. Once people are hooked, they're hooked, and they'll pay whatever is necessary for their next fix.
With this money, the cigarette industry hides from the public the simple fact that tobacco is the most addictive substance known (more addictive than even heroin), and that cigarettes kill. Cigarette companies spend a fortune each year on advertising, and they use that clout to eliminate or soften media stories that might be hazardous to the health of the tobacco industry. In the past, only the media accepting cigarette advertisements were vulnerable to this pressure. Over the years, however, the cigarette companies have bought just about every wholesome brand in America.[*FN] Now they can use their advertising clout to control almost all media—even television, where cigarette ads have been banned for years. When cigarette advertising was allowed on television, the cigarette companies put enormous pressure on all shows to include smoking as one of the "good guy" activities and eliminate smoking as a "bad guy" activity. In other words, they wanted the heroes to smoke and the villains to do something else—playing pool was okay, taking other drugs was fine, arrogantly driving expensive cars purchased with ill-gotten gains was terrific.

[*FN] Nabisco, General Foods, Oreo Cookies, Jell-o, Ritz Crackers, Planters Peanuts, Triscuits, Miller Beer, Jim Beam Bourbon, Kool-Aid, Log Cabin Syrup, Oscar Mayer Wieners, Maxwell House Coffee, Entenmann's Cakes, Post Grape-Nuts (Euell Gibbons is rolling in his grave), Fleischmann's Margerine, Kraft (yes, something as American as Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is owned by a tobacco company), Carefree Sugarless Gum, Lifesavers, Fig Newtons, Cool-Whip, Velveeta, Pinkerton Guards, and Franklin (Ben is rolling in his grave) Life Insurance (a company that gives lower rates to nonsmokers) and, heaven help us, Animal Crackers. This list is subject to change. Cigarette companies buy and sell other businesses as easily as you or I might pick up a box of Triscuits, a six-pack of Miller Genuine Draft, or a roll of Lifesavers—they just throw them in their shopping carts and head for the check-out counter (the stock market).


In Europe, when tobacco
was first introduced,
it was immediately banned.
In Turkey, if you
got caught with tobacco,
you had your nose slit.
China and Russia imposed
the death penalty
for possession of tobacco.
ANDREW WEIL, M.D.
Gene Roddenberry told me that while he was creating Star Trek, the network (NBC) and the production company (Paramount) put enormous pressure on him to include cigarettes on the starship Enterprise. Roddenberry pointed out that, considering the health risks known about cigarettes even in 1966, no one would be smoking by stardate 1513.1 (circa A.D. 2264).
The network and studio executives used both pressure and persuasion. They tried to get Roddenberry enthused about how cigarettes might look in the twenty-third century. Maybe they would be square instead of round; perhaps they would come in colors; perhaps cigarettes would light themselves! Roddenberry's creative juices were not stimulated. Finally, the executives gave him an ultimatum: either the starship Enterprise would officially be declared a Smoking Zone, or Roddenberry's other radical idea—to have a woman as an officer of the Enterprise crew—would be abandoned. The executives were clever in offering this choice: Roddenberry's wife was already cast to play the female officer. After quite a bit of soul-searching, Roddenberry came to the only conclusion he could: both cigarettes and his wife did not get an intergalactic boarding pass. The irony was that, in later years, when smoking was less fashionable, Paramount pointed with pride to Star Trek as one of the few shows in syndication that had none of those "distasteful" cigarettes.

BEAM ME UP, SCOTTY!
THERE IS NO INTELLIGENT
LIFE ON EARTH!
SLOGAN ON T-SHIRT
The cigarette companies' control extends beyond elected officials and much of the media. In early 1984 (that ominous year), Greg Louganis, a former smoker, was asked by the American Cancer Society to be national chairman of its annual Great American Smokeout. Louganis was excited. He had smoked from junior high until he was twenty-three. One day he saw a twelve-year-old smoking, asked the boy why, and was told, "I want to be just like you!" Louganis stopped cold. He later said, "After I quit, I wanted to tell every twelve-year-old that I had quit." His story, told at the peak of his Olympic fame, could have inspired tens of thousands to quit smoking—or avoid starting in the first place. Alas, it was not to be.
Louganis trained in California at the Mission Viejo pool. His coach, the best in the world, was employed by Mission Viejo. Philip Morris essentially owns the town of Mission Viejo. Philip Morris made it clear: if Louganis became chairman of the Great American Smokeout, he would lose his pool and his coach. Philip Morris also threatened to fire other Mission Viejo employees close to Louganis. Louganis had no choice. He declined the American Cancer Society's invitation, without comment. As Larry C. White pointed out in The Merchants of Death, "The threat of Louganis's being sent away from Mission Viejo, away from his coach, was the sports world's equivalent of saying, `I'll kill your mother.'" The California Department of Health said it best: "Smokers are addicts. Cigarette companies are pushers."

Laws do not persuade
just because they threaten.
SENECA
A.D. 65
Is all this an argument for banning cigarettes? No. It's education, not prohibition, that makes constructive change. Remember when cigarettes were considered glamorous, sophisticated, and even healthy? No one believes that now. Through education alone, more than 40,000,000 Americans have quit smoking.
This chapter is meant to show that we have a deeply ingrained hypocrisy in our culture. It allows cigarette companies to knowingly kill 500,000 people each year and make a profit on it, while we insist that our government arrest consensual "criminals" whose harm, either to themselves or to others, if combined, doesn't even begin to approach the damage done by cigarettes.
In terms of addiction, prescription and over-the-counter drugs run a close second (some say, first) to cigarettes. Tens of millions of Americans can't get through the day without (that is, they are addicted to) tranquilizers or amphetamines, or can't make it through the night without sleeping pills. Each year 125,000 deaths are linked to prescription drugs. In 1989, Tom Kelly, then–Deputy Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said on C-SPAN,

I think it's very obvious that, on the legitimate side of drug use, we have become a totally drug dependent society in this country. That's strictly on the legitimate side. That's what we teach our children in this country today. How bad is it? . . . We have about 30 million people who are regular users of stimulants. We have approximately 20 million who are regular users of sedatives. And we have about 8 million who are chronic users of tranquilizers. And that's all on the legitimate side. Thinking of those numbers, are we not drug-dependent on the legitimate side?


While the collateral consequences
of drugs such as cocaine
are indisputably severe,
they are not unlike those
which flow from the misuse
of other, legal, substances.
JUSTICE BYRON R. WHITE
And let's not forget America's Favorite Drug, caffeine. According to a research report published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in 1992:

Our results indicate that some coffee drinkers exhibit common signs of drug dependence, i.e., they self-administer coffee for the effects of caffeine, have withdrawal symptoms on cessation of caffeine and experience adverse effects from caffeine intake.

The most widely used recreational drug in this country is, of course, alcohol. A 1990 study by the U.S. Department of Health asked participants which drugs they had used in the past thirty days. It was found that 51% had used alcohol, while only 5% had used marijuana, and less than 1% had used cocaine. A 1991 U.S. Department of Health study asked young people, ages eighteen to thirty, the same question. Almost 71% had used alcohol within the past thirty days; 28% had used cigarettes; 13% had used marijuana; 2% had used cocaine; less than 2% had used stimulants; about 1% had used tranquilizers; and less than 1% had used LSD, inhalants, and steroids. None of the study participants had used heroin and only 0.5% had used other opiates. Of high school students, 2% said they currently used cocaine, 14% said they currently used marijuana, while 59% said they currently used alcohol. (Of high school seniors, 28% smoked cigarettes.)

If you are young
and you drink a great deal
it will spoil your health,
slow your mind,
make you fat—
in other words,
turn you into an adult.
P. J. O'ROURKE

Alcohol is also the recreational drug most likely to be abused: 43% of college students, 35% of high school seniors, and 26% of eighth grade students (thirteen-year-olds!) said that they had had five or more drinks in a row at some point during the last two weeks. In 1990, more than half of the fatal car accidents in this country were related to alcohol, killing 22,083 people.[*FN] This is the equivalent of a fully loaded 747 crashing. Three times a week. Every week. An additional 469,000 nonfatal car crashes involved alcohol. Half of all teenage fatalities are alcohol-related. In a confidential survey of high school seniors who had received a traffic ticket in the last twelve months, 10% of them admitted being under the influence of alcohol at the time they received the ticket. Only 3% were under the influence of marijuana or hashish, and 1% under the influence of any other drugs. More than 11 million Americans have witnessed a family member killed or seriously injured by a drunk driver in the last nine years. Society's loss in wages, productivity, medical and legal costs caused by death and injuries in drunk-driving crashes exceeds $24 billion each year. On an average Friday or Saturday night, one of every ten drivers on the road is drunk. In 1991, 13% of all male arrests were for drunk driving.

[*FN] The old saying, "Statistics don't lie, but liars use statistics" describes perfectly the people and organizations trying to overestimate the "drug problem." I have seen this figure of 22,083 listed as "drug and alcohol-related traffic fatalities." They were, almost entirely, alcohol-related. Another of my favorites is the statistic officially labeled, "Drug Abuse–Related Emergency Room Episodes." It says that 371,208 people were admitted to emergency rooms in 1990 for drug abuse–related reasons. I have seen this figure bandied about as proof that drugs are not safe, and are a horrendous problem ("Almost 400,000 people wind up in emergency rooms every year due to the drug epidemic!"). Further examination, however, shows that 172,815 of the cases—46%—were attempted suicides. To call attempted suicide "drug abuse–related" is absurd. Drugs were the method, not the problem. Just because 1,000 people commit suicide by jumping off tall buildings, does not make tall buildings dangerous. Only 29,817 of the 371,208 total emergency room episodes resulted from "recreational use" of drugs (only 8% of the total) and 74% of those patients were treated and released without being admitted to the hospital. (The figure 29,817 certainly indicates a problem, but compare it with the 500,000 smoking deaths. There are approximately 6,000 "illicit"-drug-related deaths each year—1.2% of the tobacco deaths.)


Tobacco is a culture
productive of
infinite wretchedness.
THOMAS JEFFERSON
1782
Alcohol is involved in 80% of fire deaths, 77% of falls, 65% of drownings, 65% of murders, 60% of child abuse cases, 35% of rapes, and 55% of all arrests. According to a 1992 study by the National Center for Health Statistics, "10,500,000 Americans are alcoholics; 76,000,000 more are affected by alcohol abuse, having been married to an alcoholic or problem drinker or having grown up with one."
Is this a call for a new Prohibition? No. As with cigarettes, the key to helping people from hurting themselves is education. There is, however, a great deal more we could do to protect nonconsenting victims of alcohol abuse—such as sober drivers and pedestrians. (Please see the chapter, "Protective Technology.")
There are only two possible actions we, as a nation, can take to remove this deeply ingrained hypocrisy: ban cigarettes, alcohol, and caffeine, then have all drugs—including those currently sold over-the-counter—require a prescription from at least two doctors. Or we can repeal the laws against currently illegal consensual activities. We can no longer afford to maintain the pretense that we really care whether or not people harm their own person and property. If we really cared and if prohibition worked (two of the larger if's in the known cosmos), we'd outlaw all legal evils.

The ultimate result
of shielding men
from the effects of folly
is to fill the world with fools.
HERBERT SPENCER
Does removing laws against consensual activities make us an uncaring nation? Not at all. It makes us a mature nation; one that realizes you cannot legislate morality, prevent people from hurting themselves, or protect people from the consequences of their own behaviors. If we accept this mature stance, then we must legalize all consensual activities. Or continue being hypocrites.

NEXT BACK" TOP CONTENTS

Peter McWilliams Home Page

Order the Book

Copyright 1996 Peter McWilliams & Prelude Press

Site Credits