Spot the difference: How today's airbrushing PC censors decided Churchill could do without his cigarThere have been other recent examples of iconic pictures being airbrushed to remove tobacco from the sight of the terminally-nervous, most notably in France where Coco Chanel and M Hulot have been similarly treated.
In the original photograph the war leader has his cigar gripped firmly in the corner of his mouth. But in the other image - currently greeting visitors to a London museum - his favourite smoke has been digitally extinguished.
Therefore it's only natural to assume that this is all down to political correctness.
Allen Packwood, of Churchill Archives Centre, said he had never known of the leader's cigar being airbrushed out before. 'The cigar is part of what makes Churchill an iconic figure and of course it was very much part of his image as war leader - it went hand in hand with his victory salute and the uniforms he wore.One commenter attempts to offer a less risible reason for the missing cigar.
What's politically correct for 2010 was not politically correct for 1940.'
I know who did this!This doesn't really stack up, though, considering that the 'after' picture looks a hell of a lot less like Churchill than the 'before'. In fact, the post-airbrushing is more reminiscent of Benny Hill rather than Winnie. If that was truly the justification, then he/she must be a woefully incompetent photo editor.
It was not due to Anti smoking it was simply he image was very low res and he took the decision to remove the cigar as it looked better in his opinion!
I guess we will be producing another one soon!
- JZ, London, 15/6/2010 14:25
Since the Mail is unable to track down the perpetrator, one can only guess at the real motive, but it may well be down to a rather gross characteristic of the anti-smoker ... pure, unadulterated, vindictive spite.
For example, let me introduce you to Rosie O'Neill, a famous New York socialite at the turn of the 20th century. Here she is pictured in 1907.
Now, if you click on the picture to enlarge it, you may just notice that a cigarette has been crudely scratched out (on the negative) of the fingers of her right hand. This was in the period where puritans and zealots were in the ascendancy prior to Prohibition and tobacco illegality in 15 US states. The irrepressible righteous rage which must have motivated someone to do something like that is bordering on the psychotic.
Remember too, that this was decades before any science had been conducted into the harm caused by tobacco. There was no more to this desecration of a tranquil photo than stark hatred.
The more extreme tobacco haters have always possessed this trait, but now the anti-smoking juggernaut has reached top gear, they have a handy 'health' peg on which to hang their vitriol and bile. It's never been about health, though. This sentiment has always been there, as the picture of Rosie O'Neill proves.
It's why talk of sealed smoking rooms or separate smoking pubs can't be tolerated, even though there is no threat to the health of anyone except those who choose to use them. It's why even the suggestion of an amendment motivates anti-smokers to scuttle from the woodwork spitting condescension, insults, loathing and bigotry.
In a civil society, one would expect such behaviour to be frowned upon, but instead government feed and nurture it against all notions of common sense and reason.
We may never know why Churchill's photo was messed around with, but seeing as there is no valid reason why it was done - and that history, and the present, illustrates the dog in a manger mindset of the rabid anti-smoker - one can't rule out base, naked spite as a motive.
As for Rosie O'Neill, there is a charming end to the story of her photo portrait. Fellow jewel robber David G, who e-mailed me her story, is a superb photo restorer. He said:
"I hand-colorized the original B&W photo and added the cig back into her hand, thus restoring her spirit to its rightful truth of the actual way she wanted to be depicted in the world, post-humously of course since this was her back circa 1907. May her soul now rest in peace."I think Rosie would heartily approve, don't you?