When 'Merchants of Death' Seems Too Mild

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During a visit to Israel this week, The Jerusalem Post reports, American Cancer Society President John Seffrin declared that "all those involved in the production and marketing of tobacco products are 'terrorists.' " Even the guy behind the counter at the convenience store? I suppose cigarette makers and sellers would be just like terrorists, if terrorists asked their victims for permission before they placed their bombs, if the bombs took 40 years or so to go off, if only one out of three of them exploded at all, and if in the meantime the victims enjoyed having the bombs around so much that they were willing to pay for the privilege.

[Thanks to Brad Rodu for the link.]

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  1. Free will is an illusion.

  2. Lunchtime doubly so.

  3. I propose an addendum to Godwin’s law: if you compare your opponent to or call your opponent a terrorist, you instantly lose the argument, unless your opponent actually is a terrorist.

  4. Is there any group out there now that hasn’t been accused of being terrorists? Are people actually trying to make the word meaningless?

  5. ACTIVIST
    You’re spending what? Twenty,
    thirty dollars a week on cigarettes.

    LISTENER 1
    Forty.

    LISTENER 2
    Fifty-three.

    ACTIVIST
    Fifty-three dollars. Would you pay
    someone that much money every week
    to kill you? Because that’s what
    you’re doing now, by paying for the
    so-called privilege to smoke!

    LISTENER 3
    We all gotta go sometime…

    ACTIVIST
    It’s that kind of mentality that
    allows this cancer-producing
    industry to thrive. Of course we’re
    all going to die someday, but do we
    have to pay for it? Do we have to
    actually throw hard-earned dollars
    on a counter and say, “Please,
    please, Mister Merchant of Death,
    sir; please sell me something that
    will give me bad breath, stink up
    my clothes, and fry my lungs.”

    LISTENER 1
    It’s not that easy to quit.

    ACTIVIST
    Of course it’s not; not when you
    have people like this mindless
    cretin so happy and willing to sell
    you nails for your coffin!

    DANTE
    Hey, now wait a sec…

    ACTIVIST
    Now he’s going to launch into his
    rap about how he’s just doing his
    job; following orders.
    (MORE)

    11.

    ACTIVIST (CONT’D)
    Friends, let me tell you about
    another bunch of hate mongers that
    were just following orders: they
    were called Nazis, and they
    practically wiped a nation of
    people from the Earth…just like
    cigarettes are doing now! Cigarette
    smoking is the new Holocaust, and
    those that partake in the practice
    of smoking or sell the wares that
    promote it are the Nazis of the
    nineties! He doesn’t care how many
    people die from it! He smiles as
    you pay for your cancer sticks and
    says, “Have a nice day.”

    DANTE
    I think you’d better leave now.

    ACTIVIST
    You want me to leave? Why? Because
    somebody is telling it like it is?
    Somebody’s giving these fine people
    a wake-up call?!

    DANTE
    You’re loitering in here, and
    causing a disturbance.

    ACTIVIST
    You’re the disturbance, pal! And
    here…
    (slaps a dollar on
    the counter)
    I’m buying some…what’s
    this?…Chewlie’s Gum. There. I’m
    no longer loitering. I’m a customer,
    a customer engaged in a discussion
    with other customers.

    LISTENER 2
    (to DANTE)
    Yeah, now shut up so he can speak!

    ACTIVIST
    Oh, he’s scared now! He sees the
    threat we present! He smells the
    changes coming, and the loss of
    sales when the nonsmokers finally
    demand satisfaction. We demand the
    right to breathe cleaner air!

    12.

    LISTENER 3
    Yeah!

    ACTIVIST
    We’d rather chew our gum than
    embrace slow death! Let’s abolish
    this heinous practice of sucking
    poison, and if it means ruffling
    the feathers of a convenience store
    idiot, then so be it!

    DANTE
    That’s it, everybody out.

    ACTIVIST
    We’re not moving! We have a right,
    a constitutional right, to assemble
    and be heard!

    DANTE
    Yeah, but not in here.

    ACTIVIST
    What better place than this? To
    stamp it out, you gotta start at
    the source!

    DANTE
    Like I’m responsible for all the
    smokers!

    ACTIVIST
    The ones in this town, yes! You
    encourage their growth, their habit.
    You’re the source in this area, and
    we’re going to shut you down for
    good! For good, cancer-merchant!

    The small crowd begins to chant and jeer in DANTE’s face.

    CROWD
    Cancer merchant! Cancer merchant!
    Cancer merchant!

    VERONICA enters and surveys the mess. The CROWD throws
    cigarettes at DANTE, pelting him in the face. Suddenly, a
    loud blast is heard, and white powder explodes over the
    throng. Everyone turns to face…

    VERONICA as she stands in one of the freezer cases, holding
    a fire extinguisher.

    VERONICA
    Who’s leading this mob?

  6. SPD – you’re a terrorist for asking that question.

  7. I prefer the term “Cancer Merchant.”

  8. SPD, The word is already meaningless. Unless you count the current conventional meaning of “Muslims in countries whose governments we don’t like.”

  9. “Are people actually trying to make the word meaningless?”

    “Terrorism” was never a particularly meaningful word in the first place, but it’s been in permanent decline since the early 1980s when the US government decided to apply the word to any sort of violent activity it didn’t approve of. The Beirut barracks bombing is often identified as the beginning of the end for the word’s utility.

  10. Of course, Seffrin is within his Constitutional rights to characterize the tobacco industry any way he wants, terrorists or otherwise. Of course, if/when he crosses certain lines, members of that industry can sue under libel, slander or defamation. Wonderful ol’ thing, liberty under law.

  11. Forget about equating tobacco companies with terrorism. Catch up with the times and say that tobacco is incompatible with the culture of life.

  12. Yeah, T, right on. We need Tom Delay to make another speech along the lines of “today we bury our dead, tomorrow we soak the ground with the blood of the cancer merchants”

  13. thoreau – “culture of protoplasm” would be more appropriate.

  14. I think “merchants of death” is more creative than “terrorists” anyway. I see a whole new ad campaign:

    “Got death?”

  15. Gary:

    You forgot the punchline. The activist was a Chewies gum rep.

    “This job would be great if it wasn’t for the fucking customers.”–Randall

  16. And then Danny the Dentist walks in and says, “My God! You’re selling chewing gum?

  17. How about “Terrorist Merchants of the Culture of Death?”

  18. Herman,

    That just sounds too much like “The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.” Redundantly redundant.

    But it would make an excellent martial-arts movie title. Buddy, I like your thinkin’! 🙂

  19. If the tobacco companies are terrorists, then so am I! For it was I that forced tobacco smoke into my lungs for nearly two decades, not them. I just recently quit and it was a horrible bitch! (Well, actually, I was the horrible bitch, as anyone around me would testify.) I feel as if I’ve been emancipated, but I’m free from MYSELF, not the tobacco companies. Free will is not an illusion. Predestination is simply one of the many refuges of scoundrels.

  20. Two posters who suggest that “terrorist” has no legitimate meaning beyond perpetrators of violence the USA does not like. Yeah, right.

    David & SR: you two might want get those recto-cranial inversions you’re suffering from looked at, it must getting difficult to breath up there by now.

  21. Personally I’m waiting for terrorists (US variety included) to hand out leaflets proclaiming that indulging in terrorist suffering can be hazardous to one’s health.

  22. MJ,

    Read what I wrote, not what you think I wrote, asshole.

  23. I suppose cigarette makers and sellers would be just like terrorists, if terrorists asked their victims for permission before they placed their bombs, if the bombs took 40 years or so to go off, if only one out of three of them exploded at all, and if in the meantime the victims enjoyed having the bombs around so much that they were willing to pay for the privilege.

    Attention American public:

    You are getting sleepy.

    You are getting very sleepy.

    Go to sleep.

    On the count of three you will wake up. When you wake up you will uncritically accept comparisions of tobacco sellers to murderers. You will forget that the “victims” are informed consenting adults who enjoy their habits.

    Also the word “addiction” will send you into a hysterical frenzy and you will support government action against anything fun.

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