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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 77-79 | volume XIV | March-August, 2011



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 77-79March-August, 2011

The Smokers

p. 1
Amir Or

    The room is full of people, but nobody talks. It's not a meeting place, but more like a public toilet. You do your thing and go away. They're all smoking, in silence. The ventilation is rather poor, the air thick and stinky. Ben Gurion airport, Heathrow, Frankfurt: a small lepers' colony at the back, a corner for the junkies, the sinners.
    Back in 1993 I was given a Fulbright award to stay as a guest poet in International Writing Program in Iowa City, U.S.A. It was the first time I understood as a smoker who I really am in the eyes of God. America, a God fearing country, was the first to receive the new commandment, and as early as the beginning of the nineties active smokers were banned there from almost everywhere: the university grounds, cafes, restaurants and parties.
    Since there are no mountains to block their way, the arctic winds swoop victoriously through the city streets emptied of pedestrians. Still you could spot here and there, in temperatures fit for penguins, some individuals standing outside, smoking and shivering, turning slowly into white powder. But that of course, served them right, to be out in the streets with the homeless and the street cats, and atone then and there for their vice.
    Interior flights in the States would put smokers to an even tougher trial though. After a few hours in the sealed skydiving iron box, while waiting for my next connecting flight I'd be looking in vain for my lepers' corner just to find out the whole airport was nicotine free. Surely there were plenty of bars for the alcoholics, facilities for the disabled, mind-shrinking screens for the TV junkies, McDonalds for the obese and the bulimics, and endless shops for the good American consumers. So why, I asked myself were the smokers the only chosen scapegoats to bear the sins of the American world? A possible answer started dawning on me only when I learnt the twelfth commandment that was given to the believers in just about the same years, i.e. “Thou shalt PC thy soul and language”.
    There were no short or fat people. They disappeared. No more dummies or criminals. Some were horizontally, vertically or ethically challenged, but that's something one can live with, isn't it? However, PC was more than sheer hypocrisy. It wasn't just Political. It was “Correctness” as well: a special unit of the moral police,

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