Friday, July 16, 2004

A wonderful vacation, and a rant to boot...

My apologies for taking so much time off from my newly-conceived blog, but the family and I were vacationing in Florida for a few days.
We had a great time, enjoying the sights and sounds of the oceans, both Gulf beaches and Atlantic, and I even had an opportunity to have an extended conversation with a resident there that covered everything from hurricaines to politics.
One item of note: Don't go through the south part of Tallahassee on 319, headed down towards Apalachicola, lots of construction, really quirky traffic signals (all other lanes got 2 or 3 green lights before mine!) and lots and lots of apparently confused drivers.
I suppose my only real gripe over my vacation is the anti-smoking law Florida passed awhile back that bans smoking in all restaurants. I suppose most of the smokers in the state just tolerate the ordinance, being good little citizens, and enjoy their smokes outside, but this is an issue I really have a problem with. I realize the "one man's rights end where another's begin" argument is the crux of the issue, but isn't it far past time we re-evaluated what "rights" really exist and which are constructions of society?
I argue that an individual has no more "right" to not smell cigarette smoke than he has the "right" not to smell skunks, loud perfume, or cooking cabbage. There's no evidence that occasional environmental exposure to smoke is detrimental to one's health. What has society regressed into when personal preferences towards one scent or another is the subject of legislation? I, for one, have had my meal "experience" in a nice (and relatively expensive)restaurant at least partially spoiled by an unruly child at another table. Perhaps a ban on children under 15 in any restaurant where entree prices are above $15.00 should be legislated. Such absurdity is simply an extrapolation of the "smoking ban" logic.
The other side to this coin, of course, is the rights of business owners to conduct business as they see fit, not be subject to more governmental regulation and scrutiny. If cigarette smoke is so patently offensive, why do so many people choose "first available" when asked in which section they would like to be seated? Furthermore, one would assume that if such a huge segment of the population is against smoking in public, venues which allowed smoking indoors would eventually be forced to honor the public's wishes and become voluntarily smoke-free. This would never happen, though, and the smoke-haters know this, so they resort to pushing through legislation, with much fanfare, deemed to be in the interest of "public health", and smokers, in the name of being polite, bow to their demands.
My solution: smokers should start lighting up anywhere they wish, in the name of peaceful protest. Free expression is still a part of the constitution, even though it's being eroded every day. A challenge to such totalitarian policies is long overdue, and this just may be the perfect first volley in the bloodless revolution to return America to its roots of personal liberties guaranteed by our Constitution.

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