Monday, January 29, 2007

Slipsliding down the slopes

Today is a day for real-life reductio ad absurdams for some common blogworld bugbears.

First comes news from Belgium about a school going the extra mile in warning student smokers about the dangers inherent in their unhealthy habit:

Pupils allowed to smoke - in a cage
A Belgian school is to let pupils smoke - but only if they stand in a cage and wear a graphic badge.

The badge shows an x-ray image of a pair of lungs, blackened by smoking, reports De Morgen.

The new rule will be introduced for pupils over the age of 16 at the Vesalius Institute in Ostende in February.

Assistant-director Claudine Lesaffre said: "We do a lot to promote a healthy lifestyle in our school. One third of our 600 students smoke. We've been trying to motivate the youngsters over the years, encouraged teachers to attend smoke free courses. But nothing seems to help. By wearing the badge, students expresses it is by their own free will they are damaging their health. If this won't help, I don't know what to do anymore."

Given that cigarette packets now come emblazoned with large stark warnings like Smoking these cancerous fatal deathsticks will kill you dead, deader than a dodo, and will also kill to death everyone you love and their children and their children’s children, you murdering bastard, nobody with the minimum mental capacity required to enter a shop, purchase the fags and successfully light one of them can be unaware of the ‘message’ that smoking isn’t very good for you.

If you give kids a badge for being bad, they’re all going to want one. To discourage teenagers, reverse psychology is the only psychology. Perhaps they should try a completely different tack and go back to the old days when tobacco ads could make outrageous health-benefit claims like “Nine out of ten doctors recommend Camel for asthmatics and long-distance runners”

Meanwhile, a man in China has married himself:

A Chinese man has married himself to express his "dissatisfaction with reality".

Liu Ye, 39, from Zhuhai city, married a life sized foam cut-out of himself wearing a woman's bridal dress.

"There are many reasons for marrying myself, but mainly to express my dissatisfaction with reality," he said. "This marriage makes me whole again. My definition of marriage is different from others."

The ceremony was held at a traditional courtyard packed with more than 100 guests. The 'couple' were led out by a bridesmaid and a groomsman and bowed to ancestors and senior guests for blessings.

Liu says he is not gay, but admits he's "maybe a bit narcissistic", reports New Express.

He’s getting married for all the wrong reasons: it’ll never last.


Julia Buckley said...

I used to smoke when I was at school. Mainly because I thought it was rebellious and cool. Getting to do it in a special cage with a gross-out badge would've made even more cool I'm sure. What a bizarre thing to do.

Brit said...


Parents like to tell their teenage children that it is really cooler not to smoke because if everyone else is doing it it's cooler not to follow the herd.

Teenagers see this for the rubbish advice it is.

You have to be a really instrinsically cool kid to pull off not smoking. Most have to counterfeit coolness by doing what everybody else does.

Julia Buckley said...

Very true. Problem is, most of the other kids won't recognise the really instrinsically cool kid for what s/he is. And what is the point of being cool if none of your peers think you are cool? None. None point.

They should try to be more like me. Nowadays I know that I am cool whether I smoke or not, because my mum told me I am.

Peter Burnet said...

Theses silly Belgians really have no idea of the creative lengths committed smokers will go to thwart the smoke-free Gestapo. In Canada, they go outside in minus thirty degree weather. In China, I hear they marry themselves.

Mike Beversluis said...

Bask in the glory that is tobacco's greatest reverse-psychology advertising triumph:

Oroborous said...

They should be required to don a shapeless pink smock, and sit on a children's playground animal-toy-whatsis. Also here.