leg-iron (leg_iron) wrote,

Invasion of the Righteous. 8. Incremental steps.

Eventually I made it back into the real economy. I had to work my way back up through fixed-contract jobs I didn’t really want to do, but that was just tough. This time I didn’t ditch a boring job just because it was boring. It was a fixed contract. There was an end in sight, and time to search out the next contract before the current one expired.


In between that soup kitchen and real life, I met a few more unpleasant characters but they’d fit more in the category of ‘jobsworth’ than pure Righteous. Those park keepers and night police patrols (not all, by any means) who couldn’t let someone on a park bench sleep in peace, even though a sleeping man is hardly likely to be doing anything criminal. They weren’t so much interested in control though, not to the Righteous level. Once they’d moved you on, that was that.


While on contract, I saw little of the influence of the Righteous. It was there, looking back, but it was subtle and incremental.


The smoking restrictions were a clue. When I did my first degree, there was a particular lecturer who chain-smoked throughout every lecture and didn’t care if we lit up too. When smoking was banned in lecture theatres, the quality of his lectures declined dramatically because he shook continuously through them.


At the PhD, there were occasional smokers in the labs. Not a good idea, but it wasn’t actually against the rules at that time. Stopping smoking in labs was one I had no objection to – it wasn’t safe to put anything in your mouth in the labs. That particular ban came about while I was away.


The coffee room was still okay for smoking. It was when I left the real world, and it was still okay when I came back.


At one job, the coffee room was free of most smokers at official coffee times. We’d arrange to have our breaks at different times to the non-smokers. Both groups preferred it that way. No problem, you’d think.


Someone had a problem. Someone decided that smoking was only to be allowed in the coffee room at designated times. Official break times. The times when the room was full of non-smokers. The Righteous who initiated this made themselves known at the next coffee break.


“You can’t smoke here now,” they proclaimed, pointing at the sign.


“Actually, this is the only time we can smoke here,” we replied, and the look on their faces made clear that they had not achieved the result they expected. They did, soon enough.


At the next job, which had become my first-ever non-fixed-term job, there was initially a smoking-permitted room. By now, smoking in individual offices (even single occupancy offices) had been stopped, no smoking was permitted in the lecture rooms or labs, not even in the corridors. This was long before the blanket ban. The universities, already infested with the Righteous, led the way.


An unofficial ‘no smoking’ sign appeared in that room. There were moans. The only room in a nine-storey building where smoking was permitted was to be denied us. We were told the sign was not official. Someone had taken it upon themselves to put it up. So we ignored it.


Within weeks, that unofficial sign was official. Smoking was banned entirely within a very large building, and not one that was open to the general public either. Not one cupboard remained as a refuge for smokers indoors. The year was 1995.


The Righteous had succeeded in clearing one group from the premises of an entire organisation. On trains, they reduced smoking to one carriage. On buses, upstairs only, and not at all on single deckers. Some pubs already had no smoking areas on the insistence of non-smokers who, once they had achieved their goal, never visited that pub again. The non-smoking areas lay empty, a sign of things to come.


The total smoking ban in any covered public space was only a matter of time after that. As is the eventual ban on smoking in open public areas (already in effect in hospital grounds), the ban on smoking in your own car and then in your own home. Tobacco is not an illegal substance and I bet it will never be. It’ll always be legal to buy it. You’ll just have to row six miles offshore to smoke it.



The Righteous don’t get their way by rioting. They incite others to riot, where appropriate, and then calmly suggest means to control such behaviour. Usually by giving the rioters what they want. So if smokers riot, will we get our one smoking room per company back again? Of course not. We are not a Righteous-approved group.


The Righteous achieved the current state of the smoking ban, and will achieve its extension, by incremental means over a period of years. Start by the banning of smoking in one or two areas within an organisation. Extend until only a few areas, then one area, remains. Restrict the times at which smoking is allowed in that one area. Close it completely. Then repeat in other organisations. Then extend it to cover all public spaces. Then extend into private premises and finally into homes.


Non-smokers, and especially anti-smokers, will shrug and say ‘So what? It doesn’t apply to me.’


Well, consider this.


Start with a restriction on the age at which alcohol can be purchased. Add in ‘expert’ opinions on how much is safe to drink. Check ID at point of sale. Insist on increased prices to deter drinking. Raise the age limit. (Oh, they’ll try that again).


Once these start to bite, take steps to separate the drinkers from everyone else. Have a separate queue in the supermarket. Set the drinkers up to be objects of derision. That granny with her once-a-month bottle of sherry is in the same queue as the kilted madman with a trolley full of whisky. That makes her the same as him.


The smokers had to endure warnings posted on the cigarette packets. Not to warn them. The smokers ignored them. They were so that anyone else could see how the smoker cared nothing for the health of themselves or others. Cue passive smoking and evil, child-murdering smokers.


Drinkers will soon get those labels. Granny’s one bottle a month will be as deadly as Angus McFlatulent’s sixteen bottles a day. Soon you’ll have to buy your booze by queueing up at a special counter, like the smokers do.

Or how about this:

Begin with health labels on food. ‘Suitable for vegetarians’ sounds harmless and informative. We soon grew accustomed to that. It provoked no objections. Why would it?

Add in calories, fat content, salt content. Move on to red-amber-green warning labels. Bring in Righteous experts to tell us how evil fatty foods are, how salty ready meals are, how cholesterol will harden our arteries until we can’t move, and so on.

If you work that right, soon you’ll be able to dictate to people exactly what they can and can’t eat, and they will accept it. The easiest place to start is school. Remove all salt and fat from school dinners (ignoring the detail that there is such a thing as salt deficiency). Remove any fast-food outlets from the surrounding area. The kids now eat what you tell them. They will get used to it, despite their initial resistance. Many will start to criticise their parents’ cooking. Too much fat and too much salt. Slowly, the parents will fall into line, especially when they see ads telling them that they risk diabetes if they deviate from state-sanctioned waist sizes. All from one little label. Good, innit?

Incremental actions pass unnoticed. Each step is a minor inconvenience in itself. Each step moves the bar forward. Each step elicits moans, but no real resistance. If the Righteous had tried a total ban on smoking or special queues for booze in the 1980’s, there would have been outrage and very possibly riots. How could we deny them that one non-smoking carriage on the train? It was only fair. When did it become a no-smoking train with only one smoking carriage? Does anyone remember the steps that led from one to the other? It was one step more, one increment, to remove that last smoking carriage. Imagine what the reaction would have been if they had done that in one move.

Now there are ads all over bus stops showing women with men, apparently happy and enjoying each other’s company (one shows newly-weds) with the slogan ‘This is not an invitation to rape me’. There is no indication that any of the men pictured intend any such thing. There is every indication that the women in those ads want to sleep with the man they’re with.

While five-year-olds learn about sex, any sex between adults is rape. Unless it’s been approved, with all the proper forms, and the Righteous signatures added. Children will learn, from an early age, to accept the State line on sex and to procreate or abstain on command with a State-approved partner.

Never happen? It’s not an increment?

Tell that to the folk who said ‘Okay, it’s only fair they should have one non-smoking carriage’.


This is turning into an epic tale. I had no idea I’d lived so long, and I missed out most of it. Anyway, the next real encounter with the Righteous was at meetings. Something that used to happen once in a while but boomed under the influence of the Righteous. I’ll leave that for tomorrow.

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