Volume 1, Number 14
Some people have pet peeves. I have a veritable zoo.
As some of you know, I have struggled with smoking much of my life. My mother used to smoke. I started when I was a teenager, sneaking her cigarettes in a fort on the vacant lot in the neighborhood. I quit for many years, then started it up again. Periodically I will quit for a few months, then slowly sneak some, then smoke more openly, and then quit again—until the cycle repeats itself. It’s a lifelong struggle. I like to smoke. Throw me in jail. I am not an unintelligent person. I know that smoking is bad for me. I do not need other people to point out the obvious, particularly total strangers. But so many people do.
I am convinced that attacking smokers is the only remaining acceptable discrimination out there. While on a recent business trip, I flew through Chicago. Most every airport is nonsmoking. I get that. On a layover at O’Hare on my way to the east coast, I stopped at the United Red Carpet Club, to whom I pay $400 a year for the privilege of being insulted and inconvenienced, and asked the woman at the desk whether there were any smoking areas at the airport, fairly certain of the answer. She stares at me with a most disapproving look and says, “Why don’t you not smoke and add a minute to your life.”
This is a woman who is at least 50 pounds overweight. How is it that this fat woman feels that it is okay to lecture me about smoking when her rear end is spilling over the sides of her chair? I could have told her that I was concerned that her weight would result in heart disease, diabetes and any number of other medical ailments. I could have lectured her about how much American taxpayers spend each year to provide medical care to obnoxious fat women. I could have adopted a sanctimonious attitude and advised her about the obvious benefits of a Stairmaster, letting her know that it might turn her rear end into an attractive human body part instead of the planet she was lugging around her solar system. Instead, I laughed and said, “Gee, thanks for the tip. I wasn’t aware that smoking was bad.” Then I walked off.
I am not asking for sympathy, but I am asking people to seriously think about how acceptable it has become to attack smokers, and think about the broader implications this has on basic American principles. Like, say, this crazy idea of liberty and freedom that is at the core of our civilization.
Smoking cigarettes is legal for adults. It may not be the most healthy lifestyle choice out there, but neither is parachuting, cliff diving, motorcycling riding, speeding down the interstate, or any number of other things that millions of people love to do every day. Smoking is also one of the most heavily taxed activities in the world. California smokers are forced to pay for things like health care for the uninsured, child care, self-esteem programs and all manner of other social programs. But that is not enough for the liberal elitists.
There are serious proposals in the California Legislature to prohibit people from smoking in their own homes. This is based on the argument that apartments have a common ventilation system, so there is some chance that someone smoking in Apartment 100 might kill someone in Apartment 500. (The fact that, if it were true (which it isn’t) the death would take 12,000 years to be effected is of no apparent relevance to the issue of attacking smokers, yet again.) So the public policy of California is apparently that it’s okay for someone to pass gas in an elevator with me in it, but it isn’t okay for me to smoke in my own home.
There are also proposals to prohibit parents from smoking in their own car if children are present. These same parents are free to decide how to educate their children, teach them a value system, decide what type of food to ingest into their bodies, determine their leisure pursuits, decide what kind of clothes they’ll wear, determine if they should see a doctor when they are sick, and otherwise make decisions covering every aspect of their young lives. But, by God, these parents should be prohibited from engaging in a legal pursuit (smoking) while in the presence of their kids.
If a lawmaker authored a bill to prohibit blacks from renting an apartment, they would be recalled from office. If there was a proposal enacted to ban women or gays from driving a car, a lawsuit would immediately be filed challenging the measure. But when a proposal is offered to discriminate against smokers, it is met with applause.
If there is one thing the Constitution of the United States stands for, it’s the principle of equal protection for all. It’s not just the favored who enjoy constitutional rights. Or the privileged. Or the rich. Or the popular. It’s ALL. Yes, even smokers.
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I was amused, and embarrassed, about the spectacle of the Olympic torch being paraded through the City of San Francisco. What kind of wimpy city is Gavin Newsom running? (Rhetorical question.) So San Francisco lobbies to have the torch come to The City, but then has to hide it in a warehouse and eventually sneak it out the back door so nobody can see it? Their police force is apparently so incompetent that they cannot protect torch runners from Tibetian Monks? Wow. Yeah, Gavin, you should consider running for Governor. Suggest you consider Minnie Mouse as your running mate.
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My wife and I recently saw the movie Smart People with Sarah Jessica Parker and Dennis Quaid. It was a fairly enjoyable flick, even if a bit overwritten and predictable. But one scene really caught my attention and I wondered if Parker had somehow angered a camera man. She was leaning in to kiss Quaid. The scene was shot from below as her puckered lips rose to meet Quaid’s mouth. Suddenly, her chin covered three fourths of the frame, her jaw line reminding me of a catfish about to devour a tire. Wow, that thing could be a weapon. (Sorry, so catty. I remind myself that even people with huge chins have constitutional rights.)
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