Thursday, January 06, 2011

Kool Blue Reason

An article in yesterday's WSJ on the efforts of Lorillard to fight a possible ban on menthol smokes included this gem:

Some antismoking groups are pressing for the variety to be taken off shelves. They say menthol is particularly enticing to blacks, who have long been a target of menthol marketing campaigns, and to adolescent smokers.

Please explain how in almost any other context this would not be considered racist? I mean we all know that teenagers--with their underdeveloped brains and raging hormones--are incapable of resisting the allure of Joe Camel and other evil marketing schemes perpetrated by BIG TOBACCO, but I wasn't aware that "blacks" (broad brushed painting anyone?) were also so ill equipped to make rational decisions about their own health.

This is another example that demonstrates that in today's world what is considered racism has little or nothing to do with what the actual words or actions in question, but rather the person or group behind them. Anti-smoking groups are deemed good in liberal eyes, so when they make paternalistic statements that reinforce existing stereotypes like this, no one blinks an eye. And there is evidence to support it. Statistically speaking, when it comes to smokers, blacks are more likely than whites to pound menthols. But when conservatives make statements that involve race also based on statistical data such as crime rates, test scores, or academic performance they are more often than not pilloried as racists. It's not what you say, it's who you are that counts.