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As dumb as u wanna be

Yesterday, I wrote about a gentleman who is having a dispute with his son's school. And last week, I got into an argument on a talk-show with a representative of Seatbelts Are For Everyone, who is pushing to make not wearing a seat belt a "primary offense" in Massachusetts, meaning that the police can pull you over for violating it (whereas now they can't, but can ticket you if they pull you over for another of the 1300+ reasons they have to stop you). Those two examples helped me tie together a fundamental principle of my personal philosophy.

I believe that we all have the basic right to be wrong.

In one of my favorite novels, the author puts forth a rather novel political and philosophical system. In the setting of a classroom, the students are taught all year about life, history, politics, sociology, and a ton of other subjects under the heading of "Global Ethics." The class concludes when one student comes up with what I've considered the finest definition of freedom:

"Freedom is the right to be responsible for one's actions."

To me, that says it all. We have the RIGHT to be responsible for our actions, right or wrong. And if I want to do something mind-bogglingly stupid,, the government has absolutely no right to stop me -- unless what I am doing is posing a clear and present danger to others.

Wanna smoke? Go ahead. Ride a motorcycle without a helmet? Feel free. Drive around without your seat belt? Fine. As long as you are ready, willing, and able to accept the consequences of your actions.

Now, there are exceptions to this. You wanna build a bomb in your basement? That's a clear and present danger to your neighbors, and we'll stop you. Jump off a bridge? You might land on someone, and either way someone else will have to clean up your mess. Short of that test, we're simply dealing with the "nanny state" that wants to make sure that we all do the things that are good for us and don't do those that are bad for us. If I wanted to be mothered that badly, I'd have married a certain ex-girlfriend of mine years ago. Or I never would have left home. Or I'd move to Massachusetts.

It's a very, very simple ethic I have. I might try to dissuade someone from doing something stupid, but unless they are posing that threat, I won't stop them. And if it's really, really stupid, I'll simply chalk it up to "Active Darwinism" (a term I started using about 20 years ago, long before I'd ever heard of the Darwin Awards) and say they're doing the world a favor.

As is their right.


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Comments (65)

Jay, you are so right. Exce... (Below threshold)

Jay, you are so right. Excellent post.

You need to add on caveat t... (Below threshold)

You need to add on caveat to the argument. If a person does something to be personally destructive, they can not avail themselves to the state if their actions cause them harm. So a moron does not wear a helmet, he waives his right to free healthcare at a hospital. A smoker does not get treatment for emphysema.

The last thing I want is people who do self destructive things costing me tax money.

If people are free to make ... (Below threshold)

If people are free to make the decision to not wear a seatbelt, or ride a motorcycle without a helmet, et al. then they should not be allowed to file a lawsuit against the responsible party if they get into an accident (at least as far as any injuries resulting from the lack of seatbelt or helmet.) And they should not be able to file a claim to their insurance for said trauma (or should have to pay a higher premium.) Then I would have no issue with what you propose. In fact, I would agree wholeheartedly.

How does your theory deal w... (Below threshold)
Bill K:

How does your theory deal with drug usage and euthanasia?

excellent post!<br /... (Below threshold)

excellent post!
I could not agree with you more on this one. The other comments left have some good points, too.

I agree with you too. Altho... (Below threshold)

I agree with you too. Although something about this bothers me and I can't put my finger on it.

The flaw in this argument i... (Below threshold)

The flaw in this argument is kind of subtle but it's real.

Take his reasoning against jumping off a bridge, emphasis mine: "You might land on someone, and either way someone else will have to clean up your mess."

Well, that first reason is bloody unlikely---after all we're talking about a BRIDGE, and if someone is committing suicide they're generally considerate enough to actually attempt to hit the water.

It's really the second reason that weakens the argument: that someone else will have to clean up your mess.

That's just it, you see. People vastly underestimate just how much people's personal decisions affect other people's lives. Even if the suicide goes off without a hitch, and the person sinks promptly to the bottom of the body of water and stays there, it is not fully removed from affecting others. Certainly it affects those who love said person in a negative way; and it can cause them genuine grief or pain; and if that person has been financially supporting others, the effects are quite real. And if the suicide fails, then there is emergency room services to deal with. Even if we strip all the socialist features of our society, you're still left with considerable interaction between personal decisions and broader consequences.

There are really very few personal decisions that we make that don't affect other people's lives. Thus the social libertarian position really isn't "you can do anything you want as long as it doesn't affect anyone else"---because in fact, that rule is in fact far more restrictive than they want. What they are really saying is this: "you can do anything you want as long as it doesn't affect anyone else in a way that I deem unduly burdensome."

And yet, as they well know, they can't make that decision for us in a truly democratic society; so in fact, it returns to the people to decide what constitutes an undue burden and what doesn't.

The one caveat I have is wi... (Below threshold)

The one caveat I have is with the "cost to society."

I should have the _right_ to ride a motorcycle without a helmet - but the state should have the right to require me to be bonded/insured to the point that they are comfortable that my eventual meeting with the pavement won't cost anyone anything.

This applies for a wide range of activities that are potentially _personally_ destructive. Mountain climbing, (real) mountain biking, skidiving, _driving_ (which is done already).

The "It may monetarily harm society" is _NOT_ a reason to make something illegal - just an indication that you should be picking up your share of the freaking tab.

Heck, there's a nominal recognition of this in 'Sin Taxes', like gambling, smoking, alcohol, etc. Where some of the revenue goes to alleviate issues connected to the activity. (I personally think all sin tax should be 100% to alleviation + overhead.)

F**ckin* AWESOME dude!... (Below threshold)

F**ckin* AWESOME dude!

"Freedom is the right to... (Below threshold)

"Freedom is the right to be responsible for one's actions."

Close, but not quite right.

Freedom comes with the duty of being responsible for one's actions.

Add another 'shouldn't be a... (Below threshold)

Add another 'shouldn't be able to do if injured without a seat belt or helment' Your medical expenses should not be paid by the taxpayers nor the insurance companies unless you choose a policy that personally covers you without any of the safety equipment. I've seen too many heads through windshields, starburst on windshields, crumpled dash boards and steering wheels buckled in vehicle crashes to buy into the 'I have a right argument'. Go run with your local fire/rescue squad for a few months and get back with us.

the state should have the r... (Below threshold)
Mrs. Davis:

the state should have the right to require me to be bonded/insured to the point that they are comfortable that my eventual meeting with the pavement won't cost anyone anything.

How about your smoking? How about your weight problem? How about your speeding? How about your neuroses?

Al, you've granted the state total control of your life. The whole point is that the state has no right in your decisions that affect only yourself. mcg's comment is a non-starter as your decisions affect other people no matter how you make them. Kill yourself? Affects people. Don't kill yourself? Affects people. Therefore, everything you do should be goverened by how it affects other people? Nonsense.

Make people responsible for their actions. No helmet, no ambulance.

Being a volunteer fire-figh... (Below threshold)

Being a volunteer fire-fighter I too have seen too many accidents that would NOT have been fatality accidents had the driver only been wearing a FRIGGIN SEATBELT. I tend to agree a little with some of the above, that I should not (seeing as I DO wear a seatbelt) have to pay high taxes to run a trauma center for someone who CHOSE not to wear a seat belt. Likewise, why should YOU have to pay high taxes to support me because I smoke? Answer, I HAVE INSURANCE and if I get cancer or worse, I have already covered that, but how many people haven't? The problem comes in here.....

If you smoke, the state FORCES you to carry more health coverage (meddling) - but if they simply say you can smoke, and you can be un-insured, but we won't pay your medical bills if you get in trouble. That isn't FORCING me to get the higher coverage, but it's a pretty strong nudge, wouldn't you say?

mcg's comment is a non-s... (Below threshold)

mcg's comment is a non-starter as your decisions affect other people no matter how you make them. Kill yourself? Affects people. Don't kill yourself? Affects people. Therefore, everything you do should be goverened by how it affects other people? Nonsense.

Actually it sounds like we agree on that. I was making the very argument that the statement, "you should be able to do anything you want as long as it doesn't affect others," is unless.

My point was, then, that we can't use "affects other people" alone as a basis for justifying restrictions on personal license. There needs to be a higher level of "burden" established---and that level is necessarily decided democratically.

Oops, I meant "useless" not... (Below threshold)

Oops, I meant "useless" not "unless" above.

-- unless what I am doing i... (Below threshold)

-- unless what I am doing is posing a clear and present danger to others...Drive around without your seat belt? Fine.

There exist two fundamental flaws in your argument about mandatory seal-belt usage. First, drivers must do everything possible to avoid causing a vehicular accident. A driver cannot do so if he is not behind the wheel of his vehicle. Now don't laugh, because during an emergency maneuver, drivers can become removed from the driving position. Also, should a passenger not have his seat-belt on, he can end up obstructing the ability of the driver to control the car in an emergency maneuver. Second, if someone is involved in an accident (no matter what the cause), that someone cannot render aid to anyone who might need such aid due to the accident if his head bounces off something and he is unconscious because he refused to wear his seat-belt or if he and his passenger are tied up in some freakish human knot because both were exercising their right to be stupid. Driving an automobile on public highways does not entitle one to act with disregard to others. It's not just the one who refuses to wear his seat-belt who is at risk.

"Wanna smoke? Go ahead."</p... (Below threshold)

"Wanna smoke? Go ahead."

"Jump off a bridge? You might land on someone, and either way someone else will have to clean up your mess."

How about a little consistency here, huh Jay? It's okay to smoke and poison the air that other people breathe, but it's not okay to jump off a bridge because "someone else will have to clean up your mess?" Why do you care about other people in one case but not in the other case?

You have failed to follow Einstein's dictum: "Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler." The idea that "Freedom is the right to be responsible for one's actions" isn't quite correct and certainly isn't complete. You've made it too simple.

Freedom is the right to do as you please, so long as you accept responsibility for your actions and their consequences, and so long as you do not intrude on the rights of others. Why does that last part give you so much difficulty?

Compare the exhaust volume ... (Below threshold)

Compare the exhaust volume of your car to the exhaust volume of a smoker before you make that ridiculous claim about smokers poisoning everyone's air then either start walking before you make that claim again or find another argument, you know, like a valid one. My bet is that a chain smoker puts out less in a lifetime than a car does in a 300 mile trip.

There is a huge difference ... (Below threshold)

There is a huge difference between saying that "seatbelt violations shouldn't be a primary offense" and advocating not wearing seatbelts. I strongly think people should make good decisions for themselves. However, I don't want those decisions to be mandatory and enforced. We went from seatbelts to airbags because some one with a patent on airbags bribed enough idiots in Washington to make them mandatory. Now watch the stupid ONSTAR commercials with the kids saying how irresponsible it would be to buy a car without ONSTAR. What a bunch of crap. How long before our "protectors" decide we need that system in all new cars.

You are absolutely right, e... (Below threshold)

You are absolutely right, except for one minor problem - people are not willing to take responsibility for their actions. If a person were to get in an accident without a seatbelt and get lobbed through the windshield, in this day and age, they would indubiously sue the car manufacturer for not keeping them in the cab of the car. Likewise for smoking, motorcycle riding, and all the rest of that jazz. Now, if you want to get rid of idiotic suites (like 90% of them are these days) in addition to getting rid of the Active-Darwinism-eliminating-laws, more power to you. But the latter without the former... It would get ugly :).

It was debated last week, B... (Below threshold)

It was debated last week, Bullwinkle. DJ won and your side lost. Go see it at http://wizbangblog.com/archives/005739.php

Just because more than one ... (Below threshold)

Just because more than one person shares a ridiculous view of something is no reason to either believe or claim that the ridiculous view is right. Like I said, compare the smoke from a smoker to the smoke from car and if you are still stupid enough to feel that way there's very little or no hope for you to ever to develop the sense to survive without government intervention. You do need a nanny state. Doesn't mean the rest of us do....

In case facts mean anything... (Below threshold)

In case facts mean anything to you a 2.5 liter engine takes in about 275 cubic feet a minute, mixes it with gasoline to cause it to expand then exhausts that expanded gas, a human breaths aroung 70 cubic feet an hour. Put that in your exhaust pipe and smoke it, while you're at it get a clue.

Bullwinkle, you are the rea... (Below threshold)

Bullwinkle, you are the reason no-smoking laws are getting passed right and left. DJ was right.

Stick this up your ass:

My truck has a catalytic converter and it sits in my garage most of the time. Your stupid cigarettes don't have a convertor and you light one up every ten minutes, right? The air outside is clean and clear but the air in the room where your goddam cigs are is so filthy from smoke I can see it from here.

You're dumber than hammered shit, too, so stupid you can't even understand it. Keep up this crap and you'll convince everyone.

Ok, I realize dealing with ... (Below threshold)

Ok, I realize dealing with facts is tough for the mentally challenged. I'll lay it for you, I'll even type slowly so you can keep up.

I just smoked a cigarette, it took me 8 minutes. If i smoke 2 an hour for 16 hours a day 32x8/60=4.2 hours a day smoking, I don't smoke that much, but I said a chain smoker so we'll go that. 4.2 hours at 70 cubit feet per hour is 294 cubic feet per day of smoke exhaled. A car on a 300 mile trip averaging 60 mph exhausts 82,500 cubit feet.If you drive 300 miles a week you put more pollution into the air than a chain smoker does in 280 days. For every minute your truck runs it pollutes nearly 7 times more air than a smoker does in a day. That's every minute. Math is tough for guys like you, we all know that, and math combined facts is way too much. We understand. We wish you did. I really don't think that you telling me to stick things in my ass is appropriate, if you can't debate with facts and find that fiction loses every time don't get angry, get that clue I was talking about.

I was laughing so hard abou... (Below threshold)

I was laughing so hard about a supposed adult not understanding the difference between 275 per minute vs. 294 a day that typoed a line.
For every minute your truck runs it pollutes nearly 7 times more air than a smoker does in a day. Should read more 7 times than a smoker breathes in an hour in an hour. Sorry if that confuses you too, sometimes people like you provide way more entertainment for me than I really need. All that laughing makes my poor lungs ache. That shove it up your thing really raught on the laughter, you'd never say it to me in person and it's the internationally recognized "I lost this argument" symbol, kinda like waving the white flag, how very French of you. Adieu.

Problem is this. If you don... (Below threshold)

Problem is this. If you don't wear your seat belt and you have an accident. If you die. That's your problem. If you live and have to be treated medically for the rest of your life, that is my problem.

OK, I'll pick your argument... (Below threshold)

OK, I'll pick your argument to pieces. That and "get a clue" seem to be all you got.

The exhaust of my truck has FAR LESS pollutants per cubic foot than your cigarette smoke does. The exhaust is clear. It's mostly CO2 and H2O (thats carbon dioxide and water, genius). It has almost no odor at all.

I can SEE your cigarette smoke and I can SEE your breath when you smoke. You don't breathe it all in and what you breathe in, you breathe out. The pullutants in it are HIGHLY concentrated. It's full of thousands of chemicals, more than 30 of which are carcinogens and more than a dozen of which, such as nicotine, benzene, and hydrogen cyanide, are very potent poisons.

So you compare volume of exhaust of the truck to volume of exhaled breath. Try comparing volumes of pollutants, masses of pollutants, concentrations of pollutants, and toxicity of pollutants. You haven't done that. Truck exhaust and tobacco smoke ain't the same.

Now for the fun part: My truck stays OUTSIDE when it runs. For every minute it runs, it spreads its exhaust down A MILE OF ROAD. On a 300 mile trip, it spreads it down 300 MILES OF ROAD. Do you know what that means? It means that the pollutants it puts out are in very LOW concentration, as in units per cubic foot. The air, even by the road, is clean and clear and smells just fine. I live right next to a state highway and the air outside is clear and clean. Your cig smoke, on the other hand, is indoors where other people breathe, ain't it? It just hangs in the air and everyone there breathes it, right? You and other smokers (how many are there in that restaurant -- 50? -- 100?) just keep adding more and more smoke to that same filthy air, don't you?

Here's your clue: The air INDOORS that is polluted by smoke is FAR, FAR FILTHIER than the air OUTDOORS that is polluted by my truck. If you smoked OUTSIDE and DOWNWIND OF EVERYTHING, nobody would complain about your smoking because they wouldn't have any reason to, just like they don't complain about my truck. But you smoke inside where other people breathe, don't you? You don't care, do you?

So, your argument is that it's OK to smoke INSIDE because it's OK to drive OUTSIDE? Yeah, that'll convince everyone.

C'mon, guy. Can you refute DJ's arguments or can't you? Is "get a clue" all you got?

I filed bill in the MASS H... (Below threshold)

I filed bill in the MASS House 20 years ago that permitted any operator of a motor vehicle to not wear seat belt or helmet, but provided that insurance benefits for injuries would be waived thereby.

HAHAHAHAHAHA, personal responsibility was (and still is) such a novel concept in MAssachusetts

Here's your clue: You don't... (Below threshold)

Here's your clue: You don't have to ever in your life go into a restaurant or bar that allows smoking. I don't smoke in public places. I do breathe the air in the great outdoors. You pollute it. Far more than I could if I smoked as fast as I possibly can. If you want a smoke-free enviroment you have the option to spend your time and money in one, nobody ever once forced you to go into ANY restaurant or bar, surely your little mind registers that fact. I have to breathe the air out of doors. Is this getting through to you? The air you pollute out of doors is the exact same air I have to breath indoors. If pinheads like you spent more time worrying about actual rather than imagined probelms the world would be a much better place. That ain't ever gonna happen, I realize that, but reasonable people can alway hope that clueless people such as you will figure out someday that if you had a valid argument there'd be no need for you to force your whims on others, you could chose to boycott businesses that don't cater to your type people (and I use the term loosely) and spend your money in the ones that do. Instead you need a nanny state to take care of you, being unable or unwilling or a combination of both to fend for yourself. people like you are the reason they make mops buckets with a picture of an idiot slipping on a wet floor because you can't put seeing someone with a wet mop in their hands and the act of mopping together and imagine that the floor in that person's vicinty just might be wet. Far too complicated for you. Just like figuring out that the bar you just walked into allows smoking so you should look for another bar to spend your hard-earned minimum wages in. It's obvious that little gem of wisdom has never occurred to you and probably never will, and it's also obvious that you don't think the person that owns that bar has the right to decide whether or not he wants your business. One thing is certain, as long as people like you exist the theory of evolution looks very likely to be true but doesn't progress as rapidly in some families as it does in others. Even a lab rat will avoid the part of a maze that he finds offensive due to smell or any other enviromental factor that he finds disagreeable. I have a goldfish that in a few short minutes of trial and error learned that the area in the aquarium near the heater is warmer than it likes and stays out of that area. How does it feel there in the shallow end of the gene pool? I bet you use floaties.....

This does not sound like go... (Below threshold)

This does not sound like good Christian Intelligent Design to me.

The Bible has very specific things to say about how Creationism happened, and if you are going to start down the slippery slope of buying into Darwinism then you do it at your own risk. Ask yourself, where does believing in so-called Active Darwinism begin, and betraying true Conservative and Biblical Principles and becoming a Secular Liberal end?

I guess we finally get to t... (Below threshold)

I guess we finally get to the heart of the "minnie outrage" factor and it is Christianity and Christ.

As if it wasn't obvious about five hundred bot-posts ago.

Larry,Not to menti... (Below threshold)


Not to mention the fact that the smoky air you're so afraid of in restaurants and bars that you choose to visit has never been shown to have any adverse effects, unless you count provoking righteous indignation. I do like your, "I can SEE it, so it's bad" argument. You can't see or smell carbon monoxide, so I guess it must be good for you, right?

From what I hear, the issue... (Below threshold)

From what I hear, the issue is not that smokers "poison the air" that others breathe, but that when a smoker (like me) who does not have current medical coverage (somewhat like me - long explanation that I will not bore you with here) gets cancer or the like, it is the tax payer that bears that burden. I think what Jay is saying is that if you want to do something that is "self destructive" you should have to acknowledge that you know the debt will only be born by you (and if they consent, your family), but NOT by the tax payers.

As to the argument above, I think most of us here ALREADY KNOW that a car will put out more dangerous exhaust gas in a 300 mile trip than a smoker could in more than 10 times the duration of that trip, but that isn't the argument here, at least as far as I see.

Just think of it as evoluti... (Below threshold)

Just think of it as evolution in action.
(ref: Oath of Fealty, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle)

Yeah, bulldickle, keep it u... (Below threshold)

Yeah, bulldickle, keep it up. Like I said, YOU are the reason no-smoking laws are getting passed. Like DJ said, there ain't a smoker alive who will admit to understanding the problem. Here's your sign ...

Now that Larry has us all s... (Below threshold)

Now that Larry has us all straightened out on the scientific aspects of smoking, things like Marlboros causing that haze in the sky over major cities and shrinking the polar icecaps and Winstons causing deforestation through acid rain lets get back to the serious part of Jay's post, the responsibility part. Larry doesn't feel like he's responsibile for finding a smoke free restaurant to eat in and a smoke free bar to swill his cute little umbrella drinks, he doesn't ask what he can do for his country, he doesn't even ask what he can do for himself, he throws a hissy fit and demands that his country holds his little sweaty hand and makes everyone else conform to his idea of the way things should be. He can't be burdened with making his own choices. He's too busy trying to scientifically accertain the effect of Lucky Strikes on Bolivian tree frog populations. He needs a nanny state desperately, doesn't have enough sense to come in out the rain and his next act will be demanding city-sized umbrellas mandated by the Kremlin. That way he won't get wet while he goes about proving That Kools, Salems, Newports and all those other vile menthol cigarettes caused the tsunami. I'm just curious if my Zippo lighter is disrupting the jet stream, it's windproof you know.

Since this thread has gone ... (Below threshold)
Robert F:

Since this thread has gone from being about freedom to being about the societal costs of freedom, I've written a little argument to show that the costs aren't always what you think they are.

Considering that generally, smoking doesn't kill you until the end of your productive life, and that healthy people tend to die of something, likely as not a drawn out illness, it hardly seems fair to add an additional burden by making them pay for their own healthcare differently than anyone else who gets sick.

I mean, smokers are already paying for a greater share of their healthcare through cigarette taxes, higher insurance premiums and tobacco lawsuits. On top of this, they generally cost society less by dying earlier, thus not getting their fair slice of social security and medicare.

"Healthy People" die too and they tend to do it just as expensively as people who don't take care of themselves. They generally just do it later. If they hold on long enough, they might even get their social security money.

On a tangential note, the dangers of second hand smoke are negligible.

The main argument against smoking hasn't changed since Jamestown colony. It's gross and it's bad for you.

Robert F makes a good point... (Below threshold)

Robert F makes a good point. Although both of my parents were former smokers and experienced significant medical problems as they got older (mother died three years ago at 75, Dad is 80 and just got out of the hospital again), my 83-year-old father-in-law has also had his share of medical problems and has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

He never smoked.

His family is naturally long-lived, so he could be in need of increasingly intensive care for the next ten years or more.

Smokers are going to be subsidizing him.

I'll add my two cents, can'... (Below threshold)

I'll add my two cents, can't hurt...as to smokers, smoking...

A former chain smoker (quit 'cold turkey' and all by myself several decades ago but I do accredit it to a miracle, following a desperate prayer about the addiction to nicotine a few days before), it was annoying and mystifying to me when I smoked how others who didn't smoke were annoyed at me smoking, and about the fumes, the odor.

After I stopped, within a mere day, I couldn't tolerate the very smell eminating from smokers. I really just could not stand it.

And still can't. However, I still attract smokers like flies -- a mystery to me -- and regardless of where I sit, stand or walk in public places, if there's a smoker there, they'll sit/stand/walk beside/adjacent to me regardless of other options. I've actually had opportunties to share my long-ago smoker dilemma with many of them and seen my changes about that addiction make a big difference for many, particularly those who arrive at that sense of futility as I did my last two years of smoking, that I liked the habit, recognized the negatives but couldn't stop it, could not perceive even of stopping and that culminated in me feeling far lesser than otherwise, and certianly smaller than the cigarettes and the habit itself.

The result is that you lose self esteem and become resigned to it, which is a downward spiral since both further the other, ad infinitum, unless you change your behavior, change your thinking about the addiction itself (and stop because of that).

Larry's right that the stalwart determination by some (stuck in that process I described here) is a large part of what motivates legislation to restrict and even ban public smoking because the rest of us recognize the futility of trying to discuss changes to those currently addicted.

I don't think the issue of comparing a vehicle's exhaust to a cigarette smoker's exhaust is productive, however, since both are horribly offensive and pose health risks to others. It's like asking whether whether a snake bite is preferrable to a crocodile biting or vice versa.

Second hand smoke is now proven to be the cause of or at least contributor to many serious health problems for others (even children in the womb, and particularly children afterward), so others are realistic to seek restrictions about those who continue to smoke. It's a foul habit and not a containable one, generally -- which I know from all the butts I see littering our world: smokers don't appear capable of recognizing a problem with their behavior, and, unfortunately, a lot of others have to seek other methods to organize their behaviors for them.

I share Larry's offense with the odors, the foulness of homes of those who smoke....the general repulsion for many of us about the problem and about those who smoke.

I had a neighbor who would leave a collection of nightly smoked butts in the soil at the foot of my entrance where I used to live -- because they couldn't smoke inside their home, they'd go outside each night and then leave their yucky garbage in the garden at the foot of the drive in front of my and thier residences...I mean, I can't figure people like that out, because it wasn't them who cleaned up the garbage daily but me after them. If left to that smoker (and many like that smoker), the front yard would just remain a smoke pit o' discarded butts. It was mindblowing to me that they didn't even recognize the offensiveness of their behavior, and treated (still do but I moved away) the world like their dump. And that's not even mentioning the smoke problem...

So, point is that sometimes... (Below threshold)

So, point is that sometimes legislated behaviors are necessary. Because some other people don't seem to be able to regulate their behavior (or "being stupid" factor) to some acceptable social standard as others find it.

Since we all have to live in many shared areas, using shared spaces and resources, etc., it's necessary sometimes to set rules and enforce them by threat of penalty if violated (so we make laws that effect just that).

Because, otherwise, you'd have people throwing cows in living room windows and blowing up cars in the street and...whatever they thought was fun or entertaining or were curious about, without ability to realize their behaviors were excessive to most others. Thus: laws saying if you throw a cow into a livingroom, you pay a fine of $10,000. or serve jail time. Result: very few to none would be throwing cows in curiousity. Same goes for blowing up cars.

None of us get out of this ... (Below threshold)

None of us get out of this life alive and even if it is proved that the dessert of tiramisu I indulged in on Friday night was calculated to shave 5 minutes off the end of my life

I'd still indulge

Ironic that the current "red-scare" of Xtians ("help, police, there's a Xtian anti-Christ under my bed!") is promulgated usually by the same group of people who have made "health" their new fundie religion. AND they refuse to just try and persuade via the public square -- they wield enough political clout to enshrine some of their liturgy in law.

Now bullwinkle, you know th... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Now bullwinkle, you know that cigarette smoking is much more dangerous and volumous than car exhaust.

I had a neighbor just the other night who committed suicide by closing himself up his garage and smoking a carton of cigarettes.

in his garage, sorry... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

in his garage, sorry.

-S-I have a friend... (Below threshold)


I have a friend at work, an attorney, who is also a member of the Search and Rescue. Inevitably, they are called out because a skier/snowboarder chases power out-of-bounds and gets lost, or experienced hikers decide to go it alone just this once because the day is too beautiful to miss, or .... Maybe for those few incidents we should just make wilderness and certain sports verbotten?

And I think you might find those littering smokers probably are slobs in other arenas of their life. There are a lot of non-smoke related litter out there and it irrates the #@!#%& out of me. (was a Girl Scout and fully embraced the ethos of 'leave a site better than you found it')... but I haven't asked for legislation banning individually packaged soda, beer, or juice or demanded the end to all "take out" food in disposable containers.

I agree with you on motorcy... (Below threshold)

I agree with you on motorcycle helmet laws, but seatbelts are a little bit different. Helmets only help you after you've crashed. Seatbelts can help you stay in control of a car after a minor accident and prevent it from turning into a major accident. Would you advocate letting people drive when they know their breaks are about to fail? The harm that could result is not just harm to them, but harm to others. Not wearing a seatbelt can actually make you more likely to cause harm to others, while with a motorcycle helmet, once you've crashed, the helmet has no bearing on what harm you cause to others, only to yourself.

I hope none of you take thi... (Below threshold)

I hope none of you take this as a personal affront, however, many commenters here have completely lost touch with the central point of the post.

Folks can argue back and forth upon the dangers/consequences of all of the mentioned activities to no avail. As you've all heard before, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. Those "scientific" numbers can be bent to reflect most any position you choose to support.

My personal take on the "big 3" issues here:

Smoking has been established to be a health risk to smokers. There's no study that establishes the risk to non-smokers who are "incidentally" exposed. The studies that the anti-smoking crusaders point to indicate the effects of "second hand smoke" put extremely high concentrations of constant smoke into a sealed area--in other words re-create the experience of smoking by filling the air so densely. This is a nonpoint, in that that type of environment is nonexistant in society. A funny, but somewhat serious point was made by a comedian I heard recently: If cigarettes are so addictive, and second hand smoke is so dangerous, why aren't there second-hand smoke addicts? True, cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoke can be a nuisance, but so is loud perfume and cologne. The problem isn't with substance so much as it is within the fabric of our society. We have become so rude that we see no wrong in being a nuisance, whether by lighting up or by jumping on someone's case for lighting up. If we returned to the days where "may I smoke?" was answered by "I'd prefer if you didn't," this wouldn't be such a volatile issue.

As to seat belts, there is a significant advantage of wearing them. Cars are designed to protect their passengers--if the passengers remain in their seats. There is, too, a valid argument that you are more in-control in an emergency if you aren't fighting the effects of inertia on your body, although this factor comes into play in very few actual accidents. Again, though, the primary person at risk is the one who chooses to not wear the safety belt. I personally don't have a problem with the government co-sponsoring safety awareness campaigns, but the fact is that "mandatory" safety belt laws seem to be more focused on generating revenue than protecting the public.

Motorcycle helmet laws are a particularly touchy subject for me. There is, first and foremost, no indication that a helmet can effectively protect the human head from any but the mildest impacts, and there have been no numbers from states to support that helmets actually save lives. This, coupled to the fact that the weight of the helmet adds significantly to the stresses on the cervical spine in an accident (see Dale Earnhardt), and the complication of airway and spinal cord management for medical personnel on the scene of an accident, and there can be a valid argument that a helmet may actually do more harm than good. Also to consider, why are the medical costs associated with an uninsured motorcyclist who wears a helmet more palatible than those from an uninsured motorcyclist who doesn't? BTW--before you naysayers jump into this fray, I'm a Paramedic and a Biker.

Now that I've expounded briefly on my views, I'll address the real question: Although government has a place to protect my neighbor from my actions, does the constitution afford the government the right to suspend my personal liberties in order to protect me from my own actions? Most people don't think so. That's why these debates are redirected towards perceived costs to society. In other words, the government has no business passing laws "for my own good," but we'll accept the laws if they're "for everyone's good," and we'll ignore the intrusion into our personal liberties under that same banner.

One wonders why teenage sex isn't outlawed, fined, and prosecuted under the same umbrella. Undoubtedly the costs to society arising from illegitimate babies and teen moms are staggering in contrast to the costs generated from the handful of motorcyclists crippled for want of a helmet.

OK, moosehead, I'll try to ... (Below threshold)

OK, moosehead, I'll try to explain it.

Here's the idea: You can go "elsewhere" to light up. You don't have to go to a restaurant or to a bar to smoke. You don't have to go to a restaurant or to a bar at all. You can leave and smoke someplace else so you don't pollute the air that other people are breathing as they eat and drink.

That's really simple, ain't it? Here's how simple it is: It's being explained to you by someone that you described as "mentally challenged." Your intellect is so goddam dazzling that you have to have it explained to you. You can't figure it out for yourself. Perhaps if your three remaining neurons weren't so oxygen deprived ...

See why I described you as "dumber than hammered shit?" I have explained this simple little thing to smokers for more than 40 years and I have NEVER known any smoker to understand it. The usual reaction is "Huh?" followed by a blank stare. I skipped all the typing and assumed you were yet another dumbass smoker. You've proved me right.

BoDiddly, you sound like an... (Below threshold)

BoDiddly, you sound like an intelligent guy. I'll point out something simple: the anti-smoking laws don't say "you cannot smoke", they say "you cannot smoke HERE." They are not to protect smokers from themselves, they are to protect other people from their smoke. Believe what you want, but that's why the laws are being passed.

Here's the idea: You can... (Below threshold)

Here's the idea: You can go "elsewhere" to light up. You don't have to go to a restaurant or to a bar to smoke.

Ok, here's an idea. You don't have to go to a restaurant or to a bar that allows smoking. There are plenty that don't. Shall we outlaw the wearing of perfume or cologne in public places because you don't like the smell? Loud talking? Shall we restrict ugly people from going out in public because you don't like to look at them? Second hand smoke is no danger to you. If it's irritating to you, go elsewhere.

And yet, Larry, Bodiddly hi... (Below threshold)

And yet, Larry, Bodiddly hit the nail on the head when he said, "the government has no business passing laws "for my own good," but we'll accept the laws if they're "for everyone's good," and we'll ignore the intrusion into our personal liberties under that same banner." If you want to keep hammering away, you will find that many of us will say , screw it, what does the constitution say, which I believe is, the government has no business passing laws for my own good.

Larry will never get it, he... (Below threshold)

Larry will never get it, he wants a nanny state to restrict the rights of others because he's too stupid to go to places that don't allow smoking. It's that simple, his opinion is the only one that matters. He's a selflish little spoiled child that needs a nanny to protect him. He says anyone that disagrees is dumber than hammered shit, I can find bars and restaurants that allow smoking, he can't seem to find those don't. How stupid does that make him? He's about one step from burning books that he doesn't like, or more likely asking the government to do it for him. That'll probably be his next campaign, starting with any books that contain the bill of rights. Maybe if non-smoking tofu-eating tree-hugging sandal-wearing leftist anti-smoking idiots weren't such dullards the restaurants and bars that cater to them wouldn't be so pitiful, they must be pitiful if they insist on crying like little babies when they visit ours by choice. Seeing how the other side lives pisses them off, if non-smoking places offered the same quality of food and the bars were anywhere near as fine of entertainment they wouldn't need to go anywhere else. As it is now they only have other non-smoking morons to keep them company, how pathetic must that be?

smoke eater, just because y... (Below threshold)

smoke eater, just because you have insurance, and no doubt higher premiums than me, that doesn't mean that my rates are as low as they would be if you didn't smoke, or I still have higher rates because you smoke, just not as high as yours.

Robert F, if all cigarette taxes were plowed into the health care system you'd have a point, but they are not. And I wish they were.

Larry, you blur one major p... (Below threshold)

Larry, you blur one major point, but from your imbecilic rants, I'm hardly surprised:

the anti-smoking laws don't say "you cannot smoke", they say "you cannot smoke HERE."

Anti smoking policies by restaurants, bars, etc., do say "you cannot smoke here." Anti-smoking laws, however, say that you cannot smoke here, or here, or here, or here . . .etc., regardless of the wishes of those establishments' owners. Anyone that can't see the distinction is, in your own words, "dumber than hammered shit."

Let me try to draw a picture. When a restaurant says they won't allow smoking, I have the right (frequently exercised, actually) to go somewhere that will allow me to light up while I wait on my food, or after my meal, without stepping outside into the elements. When an entire state or municipality passes a smoking-ban law, however, I am deprived of that choice. I am given the choice of either going without cigarettes or not eating in public. How would you like having the choice of dealing with smoke or not eating in public?

Laws that require establishments to provide nonsmoking areas go quite far enough to ensure that nonsmokers can enjoy their food in a smoke-free environment. Often, that translates into me eating in the "bar" section of a restaurant, complete with loud televisions playing the night's major sporting events (an irritant to me, personally, but I haven't heard much about a restaurant TV ban).

If only idiots like you would stop looking to the almighty government to make all your petty little dislikes go away, we wouldn't be dealing with the giant bureaucracy that our Federal government has become.

And, Larry, "believe what you want," the laws aren't being passed to "protect" anyone. You're not going to find any study that links occasional exposure to second-hand smoke to any sort of malaise. The laws are being passed to appease those folks who are so important in their own eyes that they really believe that their own likes and dislikes trump the rights of others.

Whatever happened to all th... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Whatever happened to all that money that came from the Big Tobacco Settlement? It was supposed to fix all of the medical and social problems caused by evil tobacco companies. Somehow those billions upon billions of dollars never made it from the Evil Capitalists to the Little Guy. The last person seen with the money was... Fat Cat Bureaucrat. In the Conservatory with a candlestick!

Yeah, I'm still batting 1.0... (Below threshold)

Yeah, I'm still batting 1.000. Smokers simply cannot understand the problem and will not address the issue. They'll yammer and scream and whine until the sky falls and they'll say anything about everything except the issue, but admit that there just might be something wrong with intentionally polluting the air? Not a chance.

Hey Sue:The money ... (Below threshold)

Hey Sue:

The money from the Big Tobacco Settlement was "throwing money to the wolves." It wasn't meant to "cure" anything. It was meant to get the government off the backs of Big Tobacco. If the government gets money from Big Tobacco, then government has a stake in the success of Big Tobacco. It has worked really well, hasn't it?

Larry, why don't you devote... (Below threshold)

Larry, why don't you devote your time and effort to the air pollution that can actually have an effect on your well being (and water and land pollution, for that matter), and when you're done with that deal with the cigarette smoke that will never harm you, ok? I'll have a smoke while we wait.

BoDiddly, you don't get it ... (Below threshold)

BoDiddly, you don't get it either. If "no smoking sections" in restaurants worked, then we non-smokers wouldn't still be complaining, would we? Nobody teaches the smoke to stay in the smoking section and it doesn't.

This is your statement: "You're not going to find any study that links occasional exposure to second-hand smoke to any sort of malaise. The laws are being passed to appease those folks who are so important in their own eyes that they really believe that their own likes and dislikes trump the rights of others."

You live in a dream world. The only people who don't admit that smoking is hazardous to everyone who breathes it are smokers. The laws are being passed to prevent the rights of non-smokers from being trumped by the rights of smokers to harm themselves.

Yup. There ain't a smoker alive who will admit that the problem exists. But, you pinheads keep on yammering. Meanwhile, the laws are being passed to teach you how not to misbehave. I'll keep laughing.

I'm outta here. Talking with smokers about smoking is like talking to a Halloween pumpkin. There just ain't nuthin' inside the head.

Larry, maybe you complain t... (Below threshold)

Larry, maybe you complain to much. There should be a law, "no one shall exhale", your carbon dioxide is contaminating with my oxygen, you getting my drift.

It was the Loquacious Lawyers, in the study, with their imaginations.

A man of obviously question... (Below threshold)

A man of obviously questionable mental ability (can't figure out which restaurants and bars cater to non-smokers) still insists on calling people who can stupid and telling us we just don't get it. He doesn't get it and never will. He's unable to grasp the idea that he can choose not to spend his money in places that allow smoking and spend his money where they welcome people like him. No sense it trying to convince anyone of this species, if they don't catch on after the first 200 or so times it's explained to them they won't ever catch on. Now if you told him we should ban his favorite Al Franken radio talk show he'd be the first one to tell us we have a choice which station we listen to, and point out that there are plenty of others on the dial, that much he gets. We might as well be spending out time trying to convince John Kerry to sign that form 180 like he's promised to do several times, the odds are better, slim to none vs. none to whatever the hell is less than none.

-1... (Below threshold)


LarryI'm raising m... (Below threshold)


I'm raising my hand as a life-long NON-smoker..never did more than try a couple of cigarettes as a teen, found it a waste of time, and have never been tempted ever again.

AND I THINK THE HISTRIONICS OVER SO-CALLED 'SECOND HAND SMOKE' are just that...histrionics more in keeping with a fundie morality only tangentally connected with health.

(you may put that in your pipe and smoke it)

If a private business...say a bar, wishes to be for smokers or smoke free, let the market decide. The idea that people can be fired for being smokers WHEN THEY ARE NOT AT WORK is as abhorent as firing someone who attends Star Trek conventions on their own time, or political rallies.

And that is what the "Tobacco is the Devil's Weed" program of the Church of Our Lady of 24 Hour Fitness and Clean Living has led to.

If a private business...... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

If a private business...say a bar, wishes to be for smokers or smoke free, let the market decide.

There. It. Is.

It's funny, I was just reading the Reader's Digest condensed version of Hayek's Road to Serfdom.

That's Frederick, not Salma, for the bunch of boob-ogling pigs who comment here. And possibly for Larry, who's probably a big fan of Marx. Karl, not Groucho.

OK, Larry. I'm game. Bring ... (Below threshold)

OK, Larry. I'm game. Bring me out of my "dream world."

Cite a study.

Or shut the fuck up.






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