March 6, 2008

"The Tobacco Monologues."

The new Minnesota smoking ban has an exception for actors in theatrical performances, but who is an actor and what is a theatrical performance? Aren't we all really actors in some sense, and when you go to a bar, are you not playing some sort of role? Minnesotans are working the loophole and, along the way, saying something about the line between life and art.
At The Rock [a hard-rock and heavy-metal bar in suburban St. Paul] earlier this week, a black stage curtain covered part of the entrance, and a sign next to it with an arrow read, "Stage Entrance." Along the opposite wall, below a sign saying "Props Dept.," was a stack of the only props needed: black ashtrays.

At the door was a printed playbill for that night's program, with a list of names of the people portraying bartenders and security guards. Playing the owner: "Brian."

Courtney Conk paid $1 for a button that said "Act Now" and pinned it to her shirt. That made her an actor for the night, entitling her to smoke. She turned in an understated, minimalist performance, sitting with cigarette in hand and talking to a bass player with the band....

At Barnacles Resort and Campground along Lake Mille Lacs, a "traveling tobacco troupe" dressed in medieval costume on the first theater night. Mark Benjamin, a lawyer who pushed bars to exploit the loophole, wore tights, a feathered cap and black boots.

"Hey, I'm a child of the '60s. I can do a little improv," he said. His improv amounted to speaking in medieval character to other patrons....

One bar on northern Minnesota's Iron Range, the Queen City Sports Place, calls its nightly smokefest "The Tobacco Monologues."

45 comments:

Pogo said...

In passing the "the Freedom to Breathe Act", Minnesota took the first of many steps down the line toward State domination of private life.

In order to skirt the law, the bars are exploiting a loophole. The state, however believes these are fake theatrical productions, and vows to shut them down, and fine "offenders" heavily.

As with the severe financial effects this law has had on these bars, few people will give a damn when the stae of Minnesota decides what is and is not a theatrical production.

The state of Minnesota is deciding in effect that it knows what is true theatrical speech and what is fake. Why that doesn't bother lawyers and ACLU types and Americans in general I'll never know.

You will comply. Resistance is futile.

AllenS said...

Ingenuity at its best.

joated said...

What were Shakespeare's lines?
"All the world's a stage...."

rhhardin said...

If actors kiss, the social account is that the kiss is not felt, and so it's not a real kiss. It's an acted kiss.

That does not extend to intercourse, however, in social interpretation. It's real intercourse whether acted or not.

Smoking seems to me more like intercourse, in the grammar of what's real.

So the mistake that Minnesota made was exempting smoking in a play. There is no acted smoking.

ricpic said...

Storm troopers of the nice.

dbp said...

I imagine a police drama where the smokers are represented by hardened criminal, the nanny-state by the police and the first amendment plays the hostage:

The criminal is holding as gun to the hostage's head and the cop has his piece drawn and pointed at the criminal. A classic stand-off.

Criminal: Copper! You can stop me from smoking, but you're gonna have to kill her (the hostage) to do it!

Cop: Shoots hostage. The End.

Middle Class Guy said...

Next the dictators of the tyrannical nanny state will ban drinking in bars. Then the real revolution will begin.

Smilin' Jack said...

Pogo said...
In passing the "the Freedom to Breathe Act", Minnesota took the first of many steps down the line toward State domination of private life.


Good grief. Of all the countless infringements of rights by the State, I can't believe how many people seem only concerned with their right to stink up a public space with their filthy burning weeds.

Kramer: You know, just because a person's a smoker, that doesn't mean he's not a human being.

Jerry: It doesn't?

Kramer: Jerry, these people aren't just going to let themselves be flicked into the ashbin of society.

Jerry: why not?

Kramer: Well you can confine them, you can punish them, you can cram them into the corner, but they're not going away, Jerry.


We'll see about that.

Revenant said...

That does not extend to intercourse, however, in social interpretation. It's real intercourse whether acted or not.

Maybe not in social interpretation, but legally it does. That's why porn stars aren't legally guilty of prostitution for getting paid to have intercourse on camera.

AJ Lynch said...

THis is a good example why Ann struggles o comply with comprehensive liberal mindset.

Smoking is still legal Smiling Jack and last I checked we don't make people wear dedorant every day.

Palladian said...

A religious Use of taking Tobacco

THE Indian weed withered quite,
Green at morn, cut down at night,
Shows thy decay; All flesh is hay:
Thus think, then drink Tobacco.

And when the smoke ascends on high,
Think thou behold'st the vanity
Of worldly stuff, Gone with a puff:
Thus think, then drink Tobacco.

But when the pipe grows foul within,
Think of thy soul defiled with sin,
And that the fire Doth it require:
Thus think, then drink Tobacco.

The ashes that are left behind,
May serve to put thee still in mind,
That into dust Return thou must:
Thus think, then drink Tobacco.

Robert Wisdome, before 1568. Trinity College, Dublin MS. 877.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Baudelaire: I'm afraid you wasted your time bringing the St. Paul police. This cigarette is nothing but... a prop!
Master Thespian: Ah! You fooled me!
Baudelaire: Acting!
Master Thespian: Genius!

Revenant said...

Smoking is still legal Smiling Jack

Not in bars, it isn't. :)

AJ Lynch said...

Rev:

I meant smoking is a legal activity except where the lunatic libs have taken over.

And I have tp laugh at the names they give these laws."Freedom to breathe act". What a joke. Here in PA, the do-gooder legislators and governor are pushing a smoking ban hard.

They know the voters forgot we elected them to reduce the size and cost of our enormous legislature.

Revenant said...

I meant smoking is a legal activity except where the lunatic libs have taken over.

What do you mean by "a legal activity"? The people who are allowed to smoke and places where smoking is allowed have been restricted for decades. Marijuana can be smoked legally by some Americans in certain places. Does that mean marijuana is legal?

As for the notion that the smoking bans are the result of "lunatic libs", I'd simply observe that the road they are traveling on was build and paved by social conservatives with the bans on prostitution and drug use.

The only difference I see between tobacco bans and prostitution/drug bans is that the former actually make life more pleasant for most people. :)

Revenant said...

Oh, and let's not forget the Reagan Administration's decision that nobody under the age of 21 should be allowed to drink alcohol -- and that this was somehow the business of the federal government. Darn those loony libs, showing up all over the place.

ricpic said...

Okay, enough of this crap. Joke time:


Little girl is outside talking to the little boy from down the street. Girl's mother calls her in for dinner.

"Clarence showed me his thing today," she told her mother.

"Oh? What thing is that?" the mother asked.

"You know, Mommy. The thing down there."

"Well," the mother said, grinning to herself, "what did you think of it?"

"It reminded me of a peanut."

"Why, because it was so small?"

"No. Because it was salty."

Elliott A said...

Smoking is a tyranny of the minority. Many a good night ruined by asthmatic attacks, burning eyes, etc. When I stop seeing the smokers hold the cigarette out of the car window on 25 degree mornings, when I no longer see cigarette butts on the ground, sand, lake, etc., then I'll feel that the government(s) intruding into private lives. It is no different than any other rule for the general good, such as stopping at red lights. Smoking is a nasty, disgusting and dangerous activity which adversely affects the health and well being of others. It is not a harmless activity which merely affects the sensibilities of others. To not draw that distinction is disingenuous when discussing the insult to an individual's freedom a certain prohibition may direct.

LonewackoDotCom said...

Elliot A is partway there. Smoking is as dangerous an activity as spraying dioxins in the air, and simple-minded schemes like "banning" it won't work. We need to start throwing the book at smokers, up to and including first degree murder charges.

Steven said...

Smoking in a bar:

a) Is not in a public place, but inside a privately-owned building on privately-owned land.

b) Doesn't affect anyone unless they choose to go in. And yes, even bar staff choose to work in bars; they are not indentured servants.

c) Doesn't result in cigarette butts anywhere except inside the bar, where the bar owner has to deal with them.

In short, bars are the ideal place to allow smoking without infringing involuntarily on non-smokers. So what does the government do?

It makes the smokers smoke outside, in public places like streets and sidewalks, where there are no walls keeping the smoke away from me and where their butts become litter.

This is totally ass-backwards, if the government is not trying to protect me, the non-smoker, from the effects of cigarette smoking. So it's perfectly clear that is not the purpose of these bans.

These bans only make sense if the actual purpose is to cause smokers physical discomfort (by making them go outside during the winter) as punishment for the vice of smoking. Which is to say, these no-smoking-in-bars laws are of the same motive and purpose as sex-toys bans, laws against sodomy, or laws against contraception; moral outrage that people are doing something that the banner disapproves of.

Revenant said...

The reason why the smoking bans aren't going away is simple: people who smoke around non-smokers are assholes. Sure, assholes have rights too, but "I will fight for the assholes of America" is not a slogan that ever got a politician elected. Simply put, a world in which tobacco addicts are forced to skulk around like criminals and smoke secretly away from other people is a world in which the vast majority of Americans are happier people.

I guess you could rely on the courts throwing out the bans, but since the war on drugs has established that the government can ban substance use for any crazy reason it wants to the odds of winning THAT battle are essentially zero.

I'm not disputing that bar owners have a right to allow smoking in their establishment (assuming they take precautions to prevent the toxins from escaping). But there are uncountable ways in which both property rights and the right to "do what you want with your own body" are violated in today's America; why on Earth is anyone who isn't personally addicted to tobacco going to champion THIS cause over all those others?

Gahrie said...

Next the dictators of the tyrannical nanny state will ban drinking in bars.

Been there, done that. It was called the 18th Amendment. It ddn't work out so well. Among other sins, it created the Kennedy fortune.

Michael said...

You can be anti-tobacco, anti-smoking, and even anti-smoker for all I care; you're entitled to your opinion.

But when you start dictating what other people can or can't do on their own property, then you're a totalitarian, and you suck.

Trooper York said...

As I had proposed on a prior thread about this topic, the simple solution is to issue a smoking license much like a liquor license that a bar and restaurant could buy so it could allow smoking on its premises. Thus those bar owners who feel that they want smoking will pay about $10,000 into the cities coffers and encourage those who enjoy a good smoke a refuge from the commie nanny state douche bags who want to control our lives. The municipality makes money and the business owner and the consumer have a choice. You can go to a bar with good red meat, sports on the TV, loud music, full pours, and the fragrant odor of premium cigars or you can sit under a fern, drink white wine spritzers while discussing your support of Hillary’s brave struggle against the patriarchy while listening to Joan Baez and munching on your tofu burgers. Of course the people on the other side of the argument won’t let you have that choice because they know what’s best for you and don’t want anything to stand in their way. They know what’s best.

Elliott A said...

Trooper

The problem is that many of us redblooded conservatives would like to go to a sportsbar where we can see, breathe, and not decrease our lifespan by more than the toll of the Yuenglings, not to mention immediately get our clothes off when we get home, and have to wash the stink out of our hair. Why can't I piss on the bar? Urine is sterile and it saves me a trip to the head. Maybe others don't want to have their drinks sitting in a puddle all night. To most nonsmokers, people smoking around them is more objectionable than that. Not to mention that I have difficulty watching suicide.

Smilin' Jack said...

Trooper York said...
Of course the people on the other side of the argument won’t let you have that choice because they know what’s best for you and don’t want anything to stand in their way. They know what’s best.


I guess we've just been too polite, because you smokers seem to have gotten the impression that we care about what's best for you. We don't. We just don't want you around, because you stink. Go away.

And there's nothing special about bars. I don't want my bar to stink any more than any other business I patronize.

Trooper York said...

But Elliot A as a true red blooded conservative you would want choice. A businessman should be able to fill a market legally and if there is a huge demand for a smoke free environment, then many such establishments will be available.

I will give you a different example. Park Slope is the next neighborhood over from Carroll Gardens and it is infested by young couples with children in monster truck strollers. There is a huge controversy between the “breeders” and everyone else (the elderly, childless people, the gay and lesbian community, and everyone who doesn’t want to have every moment consumed by someone else’s screaming rug rat). There is a bar on the corner of Union St and Fifth Avenue that wants to cater to a larger clientele. So they put a lounge in the front with book cases full of interesting books and lots of couches as well as a full bar and a indoor bocce court of all things. A bunch of mom’s decided that they wanted to enjoy some cocktails and socialize so they began to come into the bar and take over the lounge area. Remember this is a bar not a restaurant. No food. Soon they started complaining that it was too noisy and that the people at the bocce court were too loud and boisterous and obscene (some betting was involved you see). So the bar owner decided that to run his business properly, he would ban strollers and children. In his bar. Because he didn’t want to fight with some disheveled harridan with La Leche soaking through her Che T-shirt who can’t understand why it had to be so noisy on a Friday night at seven pm when her child couldn’t sleep while she enjoyed her one cocktail and chatted with her friends for three hours. Once they announced the stroller and kid ban, they were pilloried by the Hillary’s. Web posts, letters to the editor and there was even an article in the newspaper. Don’t you think the guy had a right to control his business? To decide who he wanted to market to and how he could maximize his profit and run an establishment that would cater to his patrons. A smoking license would do the same thing. You don’t have to go to that bar. It still kinda a free country. I hope.

Trooper York said...

That's cool Smilin' Jack, you can open that bar and hang out with all your pals. I should be able to open one across the street and hang out will all my pals and we can see who does better. It's called the marketplace. We will even pay an extra licensing fee. To be polite, I don't give a fuck what you want, I just don't want you to impinge on my enjoyment. I wouldn't want you in my bar because if you can't cut someone a break who wants a smoke, you surely don't want to be around people who want to get loaded and have a good time. But don't worry, I bet there will be a lot of seats available in your non smoking bar. That is if the commie nanny assholes who wrote these laws can be defeated. But it looks like your winning. So far.

Smilin' Jack said...

Look, in a perfect world I'd support your right to open an establishmnt where you can smoke and piss on the floor and do whatever other disgusting things you enjoy. But I have priorities, and that's way, way down the list. Just in the smoking genre, for example, it's a lot more important ot legalize marijuana. So I'm afraid by the time we get around to legalizing smoking bars, you'll be long departed to a hacking, wheezing, stinking oblivion. Bon voyage!

Trooper York said...

But it’s not a matter of legalizing smoking. Smoking has been legal ever since the first caveman decided he wanted a pipe full after a hard day of mammoth hunting. It’s the drive to ban it and criminalize by the anti-smoking zealots that has caused this controversy. I just want to offer a reasonable and fair solution. License it, tax it and leave the people alone who want to do it. The same for pot. A business man should be able to find a niche and cater to his customers. The gays should be able to have their own bars without discrimination. Young single mothers should be able to display their naked bodies in order to pay their tuition to Harvard. Hipster doofuses should able to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon and compare their tattoos in peace. And men of the world should be able to enjoy good red meat, fine wine and spirits and enjoy an after dinner cigar. Wasn’t it the Virgin Mary who got Jesus to perform his first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana when she sent him out for cigarettes? And he found a bodega open on a Sunday that had Marlboro Reds. It was a miracle.

Revenant said...

Trooper,

Smokers (a) are a minority and (b) make the world worse for everyone else. You don't have to be a "zealot" to want smoking banned from your presence. You just have to be a person who enjoys breathing.

Should the market be allowed to decide this stuff? Sure. The market should be allowed to decide on drug use, prostitution, racial and sexual discrimination, gay marriage, you name it. There's a group that really does support letting the market decide: libertarians. But the overwhelming majority of Americans aren't libertarians. They're fine with banning behaviors they don't like and only bitch when behaviors they DO like get banned.

Do you support legalizing drugs, prostitution, et al? If not, why should anyone take your complaints about smoking bans seriously -- and even if you do, why should we prioritize smoking over those other things?

Trooper York said...

Of course all those things should be legalized. Drug use is for losers, but it is a choice and if it is legalized, taxed and regulated they will be under control and eventually die from it's effects. You would say the same about smoking which is a legal multi-million dollar industry in which the government collects millions upon millions of dollars in taxes. Anti-smoking nanny health nazi's have already started with campaigns about trans-fats in foods. Smoking bans is just the first step. Soon they will ban hamburgers and meatballs. Prostitutes are fine with me and definitely should be regulated and taxed. They tried this already with Prohibition where they wanted to take a legal substance that had been used (and abused) since man first discovered fire, and tried to ban it's use. How did that work out? Youse guy's are just a bunch of blue nosed, health nazi, fun banning protestants.

Revenant said...

Of course all those things should be legalized.

Well once they are, I promise to worry about smoking bans.

Until then I can't get past the fact that the world is a nicer place when smokers can't pollute the air around me. As violations of human rights go, smoking bans are one of the nicest.

Smoking bans is just the first step. Soon they will ban hamburgers and meatballs.

Yeah, right. See, the thing is, most people like hamburgers. Nobody likes people who smoke in public. That's why smoking bans keep getting passed.

California didn't pass a smoking ban because people were desperately concerned with protecting smokers from themselves. It passed a smoking ban because the majority thought "hey, wait a minute -- why should we have to put up with these assholes anymore?". And while I don't agree that they had the right to do that, there's just no arguing with the fact that the world's a nicer place since they did.

Trooper York said...

Well you are certainly entitled to your opinion on how other people should live their lives and run their business. And the trend is going your way to make the world a more sterile and antiseptic place where the health nazi's will have their way. If you think that these people won't try to ban fast food hamburgers and donuts and other "unhealthy" foods, you just haven't been listening. They have already begun the process in New York City. I believe in live and let live, but you want to impose your standards and practices on people who want to congregate and enjoy a legal product in an atmosphere of their choice in a licensed establishment for which they pay a premium and a great deal of extra taxes. Well Carrie Nation would be proud. In fact you would probably make her wet. Enjoy your tofu and mineral water. I think there is a new Marion Cotillard flic on BBC America. Enjoy.

Revenant said...

Trooper, I'm sure that a small fraction of "these people" will try to ban hamburgers, sure. And they'll fail, because the vast majority of Americans don't want those things banned. Public smoking is being banned because nobody wants to breathe smoky air. The health concerns are just the flimsy rationalization being used to justify that. It isn't about saving smokers from their own stupidity, it is about saving normal people from unpleasantness.

But lets be honest, here. Smokers aren't fighting the bans out of some high-minded respect for Letting People Make Their Own Life Choices. That's crap. They're fighting the bans because they're addicted to the drug that is having its use restricted. That's the whole of the reason. The number of people who are genuinely concerned with self-determination and oppose the bans on those grounds is vanishingly small.

Were the smoking bans lifted tomorrow, almost all the people who were singing the Free Choice Chorus today would suddenly be like "legalize drugs and prostitution? Are you CRAZY? What about the CHILDREN?". Where were all these people, with their fears of living in a "sterile America", when the federal government carried out its crackdown on vices over the last forty-odd years? Mostly voting for the folks doing the cracking down, as it turns out.

Trooper York said...

Rev this would be true if tobacco was a banned substance, but it's not. It's a legal and highly important part of the governments tax base on the federal, state and city level. I don't think that it is unreasonable to give people the option to go to a bar or restaurant that pay's a premium to allow smoking. If as you say, everyone hates smoking so much, these establishments will fail and you will get your wish of a smoke free America. You see, the health nazi's took the step to ban smoking, something that has been enjoyed in America since Sir Walter Raeligh stole his first pack of cigs from Squanto. People should be free to smoke if they want, you can reasonable regulate it. No smoking in public places unless this special license has been paid for by the business. But that would be an exercise of our freedoms, which like the freedom of speech and assembly will continue to be curtailed "for our own good" and because "everyone feels that way."

Sigivald said...

"Oppress them 'cause they're a minority and we don't like what they do" is not a liberal (classical) principle.

And Jack's desire to be free to smoke pot while asserting that it's just fine to not be free to smoke tobacco, because that's icky is not exactly compelling, either through logic or rhetoric.

(PS. I don't smoke. And I think smoking bans in bars are illiberal and stupid as hell.

I also don't care what "other people", even "almost all" of them would argue tomorrow, since it doesn't affect the moral point.

That people are imperfect and care about their own liberties to do what they like more than they care about liberties they don't exercise makes exactly no difference to the restriction of liberties, from a moral standpoint.

And if enough people want a non-smoking sports bar, elliot, won't the market create them?

That it has not, and the State had to be used by those who want them as a bludgeon to create something the demands of consumers weren't sufficient to make profitable, suggests that the demand was far too slight to matter.)

Revenant said...

Rev this would be true if tobacco was a banned substance, but it's not.

Sex and nudity aren't banned either, but that doesn't prevent the government from tightly restricting their use. You need to come up with a better argument than "you can't restrict it because it isn't banned". The government can, and does, restrict the use of countless legal substances and activities.

If as you say, everyone hates smoking so much, these establishments will fail and you will get your wish of a smoke free America.

Markets are a lot more complicated than the simple black-and-white setup you describe.

If, for example, most nonsmokers dislike being around smoke, but not so much that they will refuse to patronize a bar that allows smoking, then the economically smart move for the bar owner is to allow smoking; he keeps most of the non-smokers and smokers alike, while a bar that bans smoking loses the smokers and gains only a slight increase in nonsmokers. In that scenario it is economically stupid for ANY bar to ban smoking, even though most of its customers would be happier if they did. A smoking ban prevents that sort of "race to the bottom".

But that would be an exercise of our freedoms, which like the freedom of speech and assembly will continue to be curtailed "for our own good" and because "everyone feels that way."

Like I said before, I'll believe smokers actually care about freedom when I see them start showing up to drug legalization rallies and campaigning to eliminate the vice laws. Until then I see no reason to care about their predicament, since -- unlike those other restrictions on freedom -- smoking bans actually improve my life.

Revenant said...

That people are imperfect and care about their own liberties to do what they like more than they care about liberties they don't exercise makes exactly no difference to the restriction of liberties, from a moral standpoint.

That's true. But it is also true that the best way to encourage people to do the moral thing is to appeal to their enlightened self-interest.

I make common cause with the people who believe in freedom of property and freedom of choice, i.e. people who believe that all of the vices discussed in this thread should be legal for consenting adults. I do NOT make common cause with people who believe in restricting the freedom of others, except when something super-duper important (i.e., their personal drug of choice) is on the chopping block. Why should I? They are, after all, enemies of my freedom just as much as the "anti-smoking nazis" are.

If they want the bans lifted there is a simple action they can take. Make common cause with the classic liberals and with the other people whose private preferences are being banned by the government. Support actual freedom of conscience. That's something I'll happily get behind.

By advocating for the rights of people who march straight to the polls to strip me of my own? To hell with that idea!

Trooper York said...

Rev don't you get tied of moving the goal posts? I don’t think even the great Eli Manning can run a drive that could reach them. I don't ask you to make common cause, just let people do what they want to do, not what you want them to do. I already agreed that most of the things you listed should be legalized, but that's not enough.

"If, for example, most nonsmokers dislike being around smoke, but not so much that they will refuse to patronize a bar that allows smoking, then the economically smart move for the bar owner is to allow smoking; he keeps most of the non-smokers and smokers alike, while a bar that bans smoking loses the smokers and gains only a slight increase in nonsmokers. In that scenario it is economically stupid for ANY bar to ban smoking, even though most of its customers would be happier if they did. A smoking ban prevents that sort of "race to the bottom"."

Thank you for conceding my point that the only reason smoking was banned was because of government nanny state intervention and that most astute businessmen would allow smoking. If it was such a big problem for non smokers, a bar free of smoke would be a hot commodity, especially if so many people love it the way you do. But you wouldn't put it to the test, because you know in the market place it would fail. So the heavy hand of government must be used to stamp out economic reality and distort the reality of what many (but not most) people want.

“Sex and nudity aren't banned either, but that doesn't prevent the government from tightly restricting their use”

Both those things are regulated, but not banned in many areas of the country. I don’t disagree that smoking should be regulated. No one under 21. No smoking in places of public accommodation such as malls, airplanes, supermarkets, churches, even stadiums and areas. But a bar or restaurant should be able to by a license just as a strip club or a gambling casino can open up, pay extra taxes, but still be able to operate. It will soon get to the point where the only place you can smoke is in a casino or an Indian reservation. God Bless America.

Tex the Pontificator said...

And there's nothing special about bars. I don't want my bar to stink any more than any other business I patronize.

Your bar? If it's your bar, ban smoking in it. If it's somebody else's bar, accept the owner's rules or find a bar where you like the owner's rules.

Revenant said...

I don't ask you to make common cause, just let people do what they want to do, not what you want them to do. I already agreed that most of the things you listed should be legalized, but that's not enough.

Trooper, you are one person. You don't speak on behalf of the smokers of America.

What you seem to be saying is that because you personally agree with me, I should go ahead and fight for the rights of the large majority of smokers who are themselves voting to violate *my* rights.

You say "people should have the right to smoke and to allow smoking in their own establishments".

I say people should have the right to do anything, and allow anything in their place of business, so long as everyone involved is a consenting adult.

You say "yes, but cigarettes first and I'll back you on that other stuff later". And that's where we part ways.

You and I both know that as soon as the danger of smoking bans passes the people who were screaming "oh my god, nanny state nanny state" will go right back to pulling the lever for any politician who promises to keep cracking down on all those other forms of free action I've been talking about. I'll be living in a world in which my personal freedom is every bit as restricted as it was before, but the air is somewhat smokier. Why the hell should I want that?

Most of the "keep your hands of my cigarettes" crowd doesn't give a rat's ass about personal freedom. That's why they keep yelling "stop trying to ban cigarettes", not "there shouldn't be any vice laws". So long as those vice laws exist I don't give a shit if "smoking" is among the banned vices, since it is a vice I have no desire to engage in and am annoyed by the public practice of. Perhaps when enough vices finally make the banned list people will finally say "to hell with it" and realize that freedom of choice is the way to go.

Thank you for conceding my point that the only reason smoking was banned was because of government nanny state intervention and that most astute businessmen would allow smoking.

I'm certainly not conceding that the government is acting as a "nanny state", since unlike you I actually know what that term means. The government is behaving in an entirely normal governmental manner here -- banning a practice not because it harms those who engage in it (as a nanny state would) but because most people dislike the practice in question and want it driven from the public square.

I'm curious what you think you're proving by establishing that an activity would be common if the absence of a government ban, though. Everything from "making s'mores" to "forcible rape" is common in a free market in the absence of government intervention. That an activity would be common in a completely free market doesn't say anything about its moral value one way or the other. That "astute businessmen" would do something given the opportunity doesn't automatically imply the government needs to let them do it!

Both those things are regulated, but not banned in many areas of the country.

Now you're quibbling. How about "regulating" tobacco the same way we regulate sex, then -- forbid it from any public area, forbid its exchange for money or vice versa, etc?

I don’t disagree that smoking should be regulated. No one under 21.

I look forward to hearing your rationalization for why it is morally acceptable to forbid 20-year-olds from smoking, but a gross violation of individual liberties to forbid 30-year-olds from doing so. Arbitrary much?

But a bar or restaurant should be able to by a license just as a strip club or a gambling casino can open up, pay extra taxes, but still be able to operate.

"Just as a strip club" could, eh? So no smoking within six feet of another patron and no contact between the cigarette and the lips, upon penalty of losing your license and being jailed?

Trooper York said...

Rev I know what you are getting at about the strip clubs, but I guess you have never been to the Club Kahula or it's equivalent. I am perfectly willing to concede that you don't have to fight for the rights of smokers. I am not asking you to do so. It's not a rationalization to limit the age to under 21. Just a recognition of reasonable limits. Personally, I started smoking cigars when I was twelve years old. But that's another story.

The reason why the government is acting like a nanny state is that it is enforcing the view of some, and I grant you it might be the majority, against the rights of a minority to indulge in a behavior that once again I must remind you is perfectly legal and a source of a great deal of revenue. Much like alcohol. Both tobacco and alchol are regulated and heavily taxed by the government. The indulgence in both are frowned upon by many people, perhaps even a majority. But licensed establishments can sell these items either in a carry out form or to be enjoyed in the venue that provides them. Rape and smores are strawmen or straw deserts, you can do better than that. The nanny state is here and encroaching on our freedoms every day more and more. Today cigars and trans-fats tommorrow it will be free speech on the internet.

Revenant said...

Rev I know what you are getting at about the strip clubs, but I guess you have never been to the Club Kahula or it's equivalent.

What is allowed varies from location to location, but that is true of smoking as well. In my original hometown, for example, smoking in bars is completely unrestricted; here in San Diego it is banned to the outside patios. I could smoke a joint or patronize a brothel or go to a decent strip club (assuming for the sake of argument that I want to do these things), were I willing to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to do so. The same holds true for smokers looking for a bar to smoke in; obviously that's not acceptable to the smokers either. :)

It's not a rationalization to limit the age to under 21. Just a recognition of reasonable limits.

I don't see how that is any more of a "reasonable limit" than forbidding people from smoking in bars. How is it "reasonable" to forbid an adult citizen of the United States from doing something *at all*, but "unreasonable" to prevent other adults from engaging in that activity only in certain proscribed locations? It certainly seems more reasonable to let an 18-year-old smoke in his own apartment than it is to let a 30-year-old smoke in a crowded room.

Rape and smores are strawmen or straw deserts, you can do better than that.

No, they aren't; they are both valid examples of the principle that the morality of an activity is unrelated to its frequency in the free market. You were trying to argue that the fact that businessmen would want to do something in an unrestricted market is an argument that the government should let it happen, which is morally absurd. Heck, just flip it around -- if the fact that smoking is profitable for businesses makes it wrong to ban smoking, does that mean that it would be right to ban smoking if it weren't profitable for businesses?

The nanny state is here and encroaching on our freedoms every day more and more. Today cigars and trans-fats tommorrow it will be free speech on the internet.

If the majority want trans-fats banned and the internet censored then, yep, that's what will happen. But you're implying that it won't happen if only we save the poor lonely smokers, and that's just plain silly. And that's why I don't much care about smoking bans -- they aren't a step on a slippery slope, they're just a reflection of the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans think that banning consenting adults from engaging in consensual acts is just fine. So long as THAT remains the case, any and all fans of any unpopular activity are shit out of luck.

Trooper York said...

Well I don't really disagree with your premise that smokers are shit out of luck. Of course the law is only important if you intend to obey it.

I guess I am just getting old and nostalgic for the old New York. Where a bunch of arrogant guys in suits would stand outside drinking beer and smoking cigars and hitting on secretaries from Merrill Lynch who you would bang in the Fulton Fish Market against the back of a truck near Sloppy Louie’s. Or when you could roll into the strip club with your crew and enjoy some beers while lovely young single moms would make their tuition for the Sorbonne by rubbing their rich creamy breast in your face or giving you a whiff of their perfumed cootch before you adjourned to the champagne room. Or how you could be walking on Smith St. but get pulled into a game of dominoes with a bunch of Puerto Rican guys in their wife beaters sitting on orange crates and drinking beer and listening to salsa on the radio while you snacked on chicken wings that their moms would send downstairs. Or just sitting on your stoop with a growler from Paddy’s as you shot the shit about who was better, Bobby Murcer or Dave Kingman. All the while bathed in cigar smoke from Arturo Fuente or Romeo and Julieta. But those days are gone forever and the tight assed Protestants seem to have won. I just feel sorry for the guys coming up. My day is done. But untold generations will be living in Nanny Bloomberg land.

“Memories,
Light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories
Of the way we were”