Do you smoke? Such a question has been asked to most people at one time or another. The topic of smoking certainly requires a thorough analysis, whether you smoke or not. It’s also an issue which seems to polarize people. In this reading we’ll compare contrasting viewpoints by two different individuals. As I present the arguments, I’ll dissect them to truly understand their inner-workings. Both Haviland and King touch on many subjects, yet seem to ignore others. I think a balance must be struck when it comes to smoking, both through individual rights and a social responsibility.
“I’d Rather Smoke than Kiss.” is Florence King’s very astute retort to anti-smokers. In this writing she advocates for smoking as a simple enjoyable thing to do. To emphasize this she recalls her first smoking experience, which is for the most part very normal and unexciting. However, this inconsequential account is not indicative of the rest of the story. King quickly switches gears as she goes on the attack. In the first section she labels hatred of smokers as a form of misanthropy which she goes on to say is “the most popular form of closet misanthropy in America today” (King). This perspective is further augmented by the fact that she considers second-hand smoke an invention; a means for the “Passive Americans” (King), to justify prejudice towards smokers.
As she moves into the second section, she begins to document the hostility shown to smokers. Through her own personal interactions or through examples she views in newspaper articles. King really focuses on the subject of public perception, and while some of the examples validate her perspective, others do not. We see this in her response to a Washington Post article, in which she states that “the whole article has a die-damn-you undertow” (King). This perspective is perhaps a bit over the top and only serves to polarize her views, thereby alienating some readers.
This is compounded by the next section with the peculiar title of Health Nazis. In it, she likens the public service ads against smoking to political propaganda. Nevertheless, she touches on some strong points in regards to public perception and the media’s control over it. As we move to the final section, she begins to draw interesting parallels. She compares the attack on smokers as a form of class warfare, and even goes so far as to allude to racism in the last paragraph. Indeed, she goes on to say that hatred against smokers is meant to “identify and punish the undesirables among us” (King). An attack by what she thinks of as the politically correct and self-righteous who happen to be going after black people, white working class people, 18-35 year old females, ethnic people, older people, middle aged women, or just about damn near everybody. Still, King’s essay draws up some very fundamental points which despite its radical views, must not be ignored. These are the individual right to do as you please to your body, and the media’s control over...