Friday, December 17, 2004

An Old Acquaintance Renewed

I recently had the pleasure of renewing my acquaintance with my favorite Canadian and Libertarian! His name -- roll trumpets and drums, please --- is Pierre Lemieux who lives some distance north of Montreal with, as he says, "my guns, my chainsaw, and my computer." We once had a very entertaining and enlightening debate about the health effects of smoking.


"Cigarettes won't kill you," I said. "If it were otherwise, the United States's infallible fascist government would have said so on the warning labels it requires on cigarette packages." I took a triumphant drag on my Winston, satisfied that I had proved my case beyond question.

"Idiot!," replied Professor Lemieux, the thick and tangy smoke of a Gauloise wreathing his head. "Of course cigarettes will kill you! You see, our fascist government's infalliblity is far less fallible than your fascist government's infallibility, and since our government requires labels that warn of imminent death, it is indisputable that cigarettes will cause it!"

That set me back on my heels a bit. Now insecure, I puffed a few times on my Winston to restore confidence in my manhood (after all, doesn't Michael Douglas smoke Winstons in Wall Street?) before trying to bluff him. Eyebrow cocked, I sallied forth: "Are you sure?"

"Certainly!" Professor Lemieux exclaimed, his excited gestures scattering ash around the designated smoking zone. "Have we not nationalized more industries than you? Do we not already have hate-crimes legislation? Aren't our taxes more confiscatory than yours? Can you deny that the revulsion our elites have for Western civilization makes it seem, by comparison, as though your elites are jingoistic troglodytes? In fact, don't our elites regularly call your elites jingoistic troglodytes? My God, man, you can own assault rifles in the United States! No, we're light-years ahead of you when it comes to realizing Mussolini's dreams and, therefore, our government is far more infallible than yours!"

Well call me politically-incorrect if you must, but I wasn't about to let some Canadian claim his country was better than the good ‘ol USA at anything, even if that thing is the destruction of human dignity. I pondered some possible replies while savoring that good Virginia tobacco . . . . hmmmm, more babies aborted? Heck, the per capita death toll is probably the same, so that's a no-go, gotta put this guy away in one burst, Powell Doctrine and all that . . . . Lifetime Network? A 24/7 television channel dedicated to exposing the angst of feminists and the evil of the men who betray and persecute them? Crap, I haven't seen Canadian television unless you count John Candy, and Lemieux's looking pretty smug over there, better not chance it . . . . suddenly a last burst of nicotine fired the essential synapse. EUREKA!

"But, Pierre, your warning labels say that cigarettes cause imminent death, and you're smoking one now. You're not dead. So your labels are wrong." I grinned my best predatory American grin, the one that says "I Brake for Strip Miners," and puffed out a good cloud of smoke. Smells like victory, I thought to myself.

"Irrelevant," he replied, as though he were impatiently trying to explain why you have to put the parachute on before you jump out of the plane.

"Irrelevant?" I asked, astounded once again.

"Naturally! In a totalitarian state death and life are matters of law, not biological fact. Go and google "Lysenko" and "biology" if you don't believe me. If the state chooses to declare me legally dead, and regulate my life at the same time, that is its affair and isn't to be hampered by some Winston smoker pretending he knows that 2+2=4, when in fact it's whatever the state says it is."

"Huh?" I had that sinking feeling, knowing I was about to repeat the old story of the naive, blustery American shot down in flames by sophisticated Euro-logic.

"Quite. You'll understand after you've been to the reeducation camp."


That's why I spend hours, now, making sure I only buy cigarette packs with labels that warn about adverse health consequences to pregnant women. I'm not jingoistic enough to ignore the possibility that Canada's right. Maybe its government is more infallible than ours! So I'm not taking any chances.

You can find Pierre's delightful and informative website here.

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