Brazil and the lost tolerance
This text is written in the House Stile, with some pinches of RITE (Redusing Iregularitys in Tradicional English) and Axentus, a system that uses diacritics for english.
After more than a decade outside my country, Brazil, i decided to visit it with my partner in the 90s. I told her how brazilians are tolerant – this word has become a loanword for europeans. In Brazil smokers dont have problems, the guest is the king, and if he’s a smoker, he should be allowed to smoke in his house. But i realized that the country had changed when we took a coach to go from Sao Paulo to another state further north. By that time thare was a smoking ban on coaches that dont leev the own state, but you wer still allowd to smoke in interstate buses. So i lighted a cigarett. We wer sitting in the middle of the bus, and in the front a guy stood up and told me to stop smoking, it is forbidden. I askd him ware he sees a sine saying that, and since he wasnt able to find one, he told that it is forbidden all the same. I explaned that it is not forbidden in interstate buses, and he askd me to stop smoking becaus he has asthma. And soon i’d realize that apparently half the brazilian population has asthma nowadays. If you want to know who has asthma, you just hav to lite a cigarett. Anyway, i had found out that the difrence in tolLerance wasnt between Brazil and Germany, it was a difrence between the old and the new times.
And its not only asthma: last week i met the brazilian frend of a frend of mine, and he had a “smoke allergy”, wich was wy we had to freez outside a bar. A study showd that only 10% of the peeple who say they hav lactosis or gluten intollerance realy hav a fisical intollerance, and i guess it is not much difrent with the smoke allergy. And eeven then, i guess it is like wen a normal person breeths the smoke of burning tires – it stinks, but yu dont get scabies or a cardiac arrest from it.
In the 70s i wasnt realy happy about the millitary regeem in Brazil, but at leest the econnomy was booming, the cuntry had the fastest groeth in the world. It was a dictatorship, but somehow a funny one: quite a few oposition politicians wer in exile, on the other hand thare wer elections, wich wer leegal but the seet distribution unfare, thare was a working congress, altho it had its limitations. So peeple sed it is neither a democracy, nor a real dictatorship, they calld it a “democratura”, a “democtorship”.
In the 80s, democracy came bak, but then the econnomy got very sik. The cuntry was neer bankrupcy, the inflation was around 2000% in sum yeers. Sumtimes thare was mor inflation in one day than in say the UK in a hole yeer. And i thaut that the cuntry would need an authoritarian democracy, at leest for a wile, to punnish corupt politicians propperly and make things work reesonably. In the middle of the 90s the goverment got the inflation under controle, the econnomy began growing agen, and Brazil reechd the 6th place among the world econnomies. And it was one of the few cuntries ware the difrence between rich and poor became smaller. I remaned an optimist about Brazil for 20 yeers, at leest for the econnomy and the social reforms. But agen i was less optimistic about the democracy. It was doutlessly a democracy, but not a butiful one. It became by definition wat i had hoped for: an authoritarian democracy, ie with an elected goverment that tended mor and mor to authoritarism. And wat i hadnt expected was that i’d be one of its ferst victims. As a smoker.
Democracy meens peeples goverment, and wen the peeple want or accept an authoritarian goverment, this is a democracy too, as for example in Russia, Türkiye or the UK. Wen peeple want to erradicate a minority, either becaus they always wanted to do it or becaus the goverment or the sistem promoted the haitred agenst that minority, then this is also democracy, at leest seen from an etimolojical point of vew. But it is not a butiful, an ideal democracy, wen minorities hav to suffer, wen the meedia ar censord or peeple ar executed bi the goverment, ie wen thare is a deth pennalty. This ideal democracy is getting hard to find in Europe, and stil harder in Brazil, eeven without deth pennalty or censorship done bi the state. The butiful democracies ar dejenerating to etimological democracies, or we coud also say: the democracies ar becoming democtorships.
Brazil was one of the first cuntries to hav warnings on cigarett packages, and the pictures wer thare quite erly, too. And eeven befor the smoking ban, thare wer mor and mor bars and restaurants ware smoking had been band. And then the total ban came. It wasnt actualy the execcutiv that was fiting for it – president Lula liked to smoke sigars, at leest until he got canser, and offen he left a party rather groggy. Besides, he had uther wurries, as the goverments befor and after him. They wer bisy fiting povverty. Wen yu see the statistics at a cuntry levvel, yu cant find a correlation between smoking and life expectancy: a fu yeers ago, Japan, Austria and Grekia had the hiest concentration of smokers worldwide, and stil they ar cuntries with a very hi life expectancy, Japan eeven the hiest in the world. But u can eesily find a correlation between povverty and lo life expectancy, so fiting povverty is cleerly mor important than fiting tobacco. The execcutiv wasnt activ on it, but the Congress. Befor the Sennat voted on the absolute smoking ban, users wer alowd to vote for or agenst it on the Sennats site. 2/3 of the votes wer agenst the total ban, stil the Sennat aproved it.
Peeple calld the ban inside bars and restaurants a total ban, but in Brazil i had to assert that yu can ban much mor than in a total ban: thare the prohibicion isnt only for indors, it is also for chares and tábles outside of a cafà or restaurant. Now it is a crime to giv enny protection for a smoker agênst rane, cold and the blazing sun. One could expêct that: in a cuntry ware 3 out of 5 régions dont no enny real winter, yu couldnt punnish smokers with a ban inside, they would just sit all outside.
And for menny stát âssemblies this wasnt enuf, they’v also forbidden smoking on béches. I had quít a few expeeriences of wat efect all thees bans had in the genral atmosfere: once i stood in front of a big building that had stares down to the sídwalk. I líted a cigarett, and the security came running with a desprate look, as if i had slauterd someone with an ax: i was standing on the last step of the stares, a few centimeters from the sídwalk propper, and since the stares belongd to the building and it wasnt alowd to smoke in the building, he told me to step down and leev the stares imeediatly. At the areport a smoker mít complane that thare ar no smoker ílands, but then he comes out and fínds out that it can be much worse than that. If the smoker wants to smoke after a 10 our flít, he has to go to the parking area, ware the exaust gases of dozens of cars caus much mor damaj to the smoker than if he had smoked dozens of packages of cigaretts, but helth protection was never conceevd to make smokers helthier. And then, once i was with a film crö in the Hotel Mercure, smóking was not alowd ennyware, so i smókd in my röm ennyway. The smók alarm doesnt get activ just becaus of a smóker, but since the cleening personel ar traned now to denounce guests that smók, they askd for an extra of 2 níts wen i was about cheking out – they had to dö a “special cleening”. Had all the rooms in the óld times befor the ban a “special cleening”? And they cudnt eeven ask the clients to pay for it? Imagin, the clients pay for a nite and the hotels pay twíse as much tö get the röms cleen agen! They must hav been all bankrupt! In the end i didnt pay, but i had to discuss with the mannager for haf an our.
The worst is, that obviusly most peeple seem to think that all this is all rite. Now probbably 2/3 of the users wüd apröv of the total ban. In an international survey they found out that mor than 60% of the peeple worldwide apröv of an alcohol ban in areplanes, and Brazil had the most aprövers, mor than 70%. In a forum i red a comment that was quite tipical for the situation: a guy sed, total ban in bars and restaurants, in- and outside, thats necessary, but a ban on the beech is too much. And he was criticised for being tollerant the wrong way, and he seemd to considder himself a libral. If he had argued like that a few deccades ago, they’d hav put him in a sichiatric clinic for having fascistic fantasies, and now he’s a libral.
The meedia like to speek about the “powerful” tobacco industry. But acording to the Forbes List of the 500 largest enterprises in the world, among the 100 largest cumpanies 8 ar from the farmaceutical branch, then between number 100 and 400 thare ar quite a few of them – sum of them nobody has herd about befor – befor a single tobacco cumpany cums, Philip Morris. Thats the number 400. In absolute numbers, Brazil was alredy the fifth biggest cigarett consumer in the world, meenwile it fel down to the 14th place, stil it is the third biggest cigarett producer – i gess a lot of it is exported. U could infer that at leest in such a cuntry the tobacco industry can do wat they want, and not be beeten all the time by the farmaceutical industry, that lets legislators and judges do the dirty job for them. But the tobacco industry is losing ground all the time, becaus big farma is stil much, much bigger. Among the 14 biggest farma companies worldwide, a single one doesnt hav factories in Brazil – its factory was closed a few yeers ago. And as we know, the message of big farma to the world is: Yu shal not drink or smoke tobacco or weed, yu’r suposed to take pils! The best ar antidepressants, and since they make so flabby, take stimmulants too, and since the combination makes problems for the stomac, a pil for the stomac too. And thare we hav the perfect client!
In Brazil thare is another factor that plays a role heer: the evangelicals, the new born cristians. Some 30, 40 yeers ago they wernt mor than 5% of the population, they wer rather exotic, meenwile 1/3 of the population is evangelical, menny of them creationists, like Jair Bolsonaro, who has the best chances to be the next president, if Lula isnt alowd to run for it. The evangelicals ar an important force wen it comes to prohibition, they’r for banning evrything that is a sin, alcohol, hemp, opium, prostitution, gambling, etc, and it is written in the Bible that smoking tobacco is a sin, isnt it? The Bible writers certanly didnt hav a word for tobacco, but i’m sure they new about the errant activities of the aztecs.
Not all, but menny evanjelicals sound like the Tee Party nowadays. An evanjelical depputy sed a few yeers ago that gays and blaks ar a dejeneration of nature. Since bi that time he was the leeder of the Human Rites Comission in the Congress, thare was a wave of outrage, and to pour oil on trubbled waters, he sed that not evrything in Africa is that bad, thare ar also wites living in the reegion. Wen they wer voting in the Congress to decide if president Dilma Rousseff, Lulas successor, should be impeechd or not, Jair Bolsonaro dedicated his vote to the man who tortured her in the 70s. And he sed in an intervew that if he lernd that his son was homosexual, he’d prefer him to be ded. So the consumers of substances that ar sins in the eyes of the evangelicals shudnt expect a frendly policy towards them.
Sure, thare is also the nanny state mentality becoming terribly virulent in the world. Wich has offen something to do with the lak of courage of politicians. Enny iddiot can propose a new regulation that wud meen mor security – maybe of 0,01% – and no politician has the guts to say that 1 kg of freedom is too hi a price for wat we get, wich is 1 gram mor safety. They dont want to be propperly informd either, or think too much about it: if they did, they mite change thare minds, and then they wud be the blak sheep and maybe lose the elections.
Also alcohol consumption is becoming a target of evangelicals and the industry – thare seems to be an extra campane at the moment, warning on how dangerus alcohol is, also in Europe, so i guess they’r preparing the population for new bans. Brazilians wer alredy the world champions in liquor consumption, in absolute and rellativ numbers – they drank twice as much as the poles, who wer seccond. Now brazilians ar in a meesly 17. position – a scandal! The alcohol limmit was reduced to 0, they call it the ‘Dry Law’. Wich meens that if yu get realy drunk in the eevening, yu shudnt drive in the next morning. And if u’r caut, u mite stay in prizzon for 3 yeers. If somebody is kild in an accident ware u wer involvd and drunk, u’r not acuzed of manslauter, u’r acuzed of murder. In rest areas in the hiways no booz ar sold ennymor. And, of corse, it’s happening mor and mor offen that yu dont get ennything alcoholic in bars and restaurants, becaus the owner is a new born cristian. As yu see, fundamentalism is no moslem invention.
In the brazilian democtorship, activ dissidents wer bullied, tortured and sometimes eeven killd. I thaut the goverment was shit, as menny péple, but i was stil yung and no activ dissident, so nothing ever happend to me. I suffer now, as a smoker and (normal) drinker under the current german democtorship – for the last 7 months i havnt bén alowd to drive cars or ride a bicicle, becaus i was caut drunk on the bike, and i hav no idea wen i’l be alowd agen. I had to sine a declaration that i wont ride a bike. The sufrings of the activ dissidents wer much werse than wat we hav today, but at lést the victims wer a few thousand péple, and not the menny millions of smokers, drinkers, stoners, hors, gamblers as now.
We always hoped that cuntries lík Saudi Arabia eventualy become something open and libral lík the west, but it seems the west is becoming mor and mor something lík Saudi Arabia.
In the front of the building ware mi sister livs in Sao Paulo, thare is a sín in front of the garage saying “Honking forbidden!” I come into the premmises and i see 3 no-smoking síns – stil in the open are. It is forbidden to smoke in a building or in its premmises except for the own apartment – éven if all inhabitants of the building wer smokers. I come to the êlevàter and i see sevral síns: It is forbidden to take guests to the swimming pöl (menny residential buildings hav pöls in Brazil). It is forbidden for children under 12 yeers to use the êlevàter. It is forbidden to discrimminate peeple becaus of thare ráse or religion. Under that sine i see the denunciation hotline, presumably to denounse smókers. Then i get into the ellevator and finaly i see a sine wich is not a prohibition: “Smile, yu’r being filmd!”