Looks like it's going to be a two-post kind of day (woohoo!). I try to peruse the Wichita Eagle's site everyday in an effort to stay informed of what is going on in my hometown (re: make sure it hasn't been wiped off the face of the earth). Even though the city as a whole has a tendency to be slightly behind the power curve of progress (Kellogg, anyone?), I still marvel at the level of buck-toothed, cross-eyed, sister-fucking, redneck hick that some people are still able to achieve despite having opposable thumbs.
After living in California for almost five years now (which bans smoking in all bars, restaurants, and almost all public places), I can attest to how nice it is to go out and not come home smelling like an ashtray. Following that vein of enlightenment, Wichita has decided to push through legislation to ban smoking in public places. Businesses can actually become exempt from the ban by doing three things:
1) Not allowing patrons under 18 years old
2) Posting signs that warn about second-hand smoke
3) Paying a $250 fee.
Given both the cream-puff means of achieving an exemption and the fact that there is even an exemption at all, you would think this would be a non-issue. Progress, however, can be a four-letter word, and this instance is no exception. Take this little nugget plucked from the comments section of today's article covering the smoking ban:
"This Puritanical mindset that there are "those people" that Know best for the rest of us Fools what is good for us and what is bad is a desease. It's a virus. A Cancer. The gov't has no business legislating health, safety and moral issues. Smoking, helmets, seatbelts, volume are items of personal choice. If you ride a motorcycle and don't wear a helmet, you're on your own. Same thing with Seatbelts. Smoking is None of the Gov'ts business. Absolutely None of it's business. The Goodie-Two-Shoes that are spearheading this need to find their own island and move there and revel in their "Inalienable rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of butting into other's business. Being elected doesn't mean that You have a corner on righteousness."
To be quite honest, knowing that someone is able to function while maintaining this level of absolute stupidity makes me sad for the human race. If this idiot could pull himself away from Fox Noise Channel for five seconds, he might realize the inherent flaws of his argument. First, the purpose of any regulation is to ensure safety, period. Why are there laws enforcing the use of seat belts? Because otherwise people like this would be killed in accidents heading to the store for more Cheese Whiz (on second thought, that might not be a bad thing). Second, if the government did not have health regulations in place, guess what that would mean? It would be perfectly legal for someone to put whatever the hell they wanted into your cigarettes. Battery acid? Of course. Mercury? Sure. Arsenic? Why not. Again, regulations are in place so that people are not out killing each other all the time. I guarantee if this asshole got salmonella from a restaurant he would change his tune about health regulations in a heartbeat. Finally, I do have to partially agree that legislating morality is a slippery slope at best. However, I am fairly confident in assuming this guy means legislating his morale views, not those of society as a whole. He is probably anti-abortion, pro-capitol punishment, and for mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. And guess what, those all deal with regulating morality.
Where is this going, you ask? Good question. A lot of people in this country like to put up a front about individuals' rights and give a bevy of examples of how their rights are being eroded by things like smoking bans. What they fail to realize, however, is that individuals rights extend to each individual; democracy is about compromise, not acting like an overly-righteous petulant child when someone offers a different point of view. If you want to really talk about the erosion of individuals' rights, look no further than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and our current administration who is listening to your phone calls, reading your emails, and invading sovereign nations, all in an effort to find "people of interest". We need look no further than our own past to find invaluable wisdom regarding the precarious situation we find ourselves in:
"Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither."