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    Thursday, June 03, 2004

    Lines in the Sand: Peggy Noonan notes that California is banning public smoking on beaches, and wonders why legislators only worry about what goes on in some organs but not others:

    I have come to hate the banners. No, I don't smoke. I just believe in the right of people to be human, to be imperfect and messy and flawed. I don't dislike the banners because they're prissy bullies, though that is reason enough. I dislike them because their work forces us to look at the shift in values in our country in our time. As I watched the NBC report, I actually thought to myself: I want to make sure I understand. If you smoke a cigarette on a beach in modern America you are harming the innocent. If you have a baby scraped from your womb, you are protecting your freedom. If you sell a pack of cigarettes to a 12-year-old boy you can be jailed, fined and sent to Guantanamo Bay with the other killers. If you sell a pack of contraceptives to a 12 year old boy in modern America you are socially responsible citizen.

    For reasons that call for an essay of their own, and as we all know, the banners of cigarettes are on and of the left, and the resisters of the banners are on the right. Once the banners of liquor were of the right and its legalizers of the left. The banners of drugs were on the right and the legalizers on the left.

    Why did the left change its stance on what it calls personal freedom regarding cigarettes and cigars? What was the logic? And please, if you are on the left, would you answer this question for me? How come the only organ the left insists be chaste is the lung? What is this pulmocentrism? Why are lungs so special? Why can't you endanger your own lungs? Why don't you care as much about livers? Don't the Democrats have a liver lobby?

    UPDATE: A reader answers (although I think he's confused me with Peggy Noonan):

    I am always amazed and profoundly bored when partisans want to play the "hypocrisy game". It goes like this, a right winger points out a hypcritical stance on the left like "How can the left support the legaization of alcohol and the banning of smoking in the same breath?". Of course, by doing so, the right winger, by being diametrically opposed to the leftie on both issues, is guilty of an equal and opposite hypocrisy. The leftie might respond "How can you right wingers support a ban on alcohol while simltaneously supporting the rights of cigarette smokers?"

    Another example: You decry "How can the left support smoking bans on the grounds that it harms the innocent and still support abortion rights?". Leaving you open for "How can you support harming only those innocents who happen to lie outside the womb?"

    Rush does this all the time. I thought you were better than that.

    The obvious difference between cigarettes and alcohol is this. If somone is drinking next to me at a beach it is entirely inconsequential to me. His drinking has no effect on me or my enjoyment of the beach. If he or she becomes beligerent with drink it becomes another issue, beligerence without drinking would be equally disturbing.

    Smoking, however, blows smoke in my face, ashes onto my blanket, etc. It has a direct and unpleasant effect on those around the smoker. Being more of a libertarian, I would rather not have smoking banned. I would leave it be and have he smoker suffer the social consequences of his or her habit, like having to deal with dirty looks and the occasional "Hey, could you put that butt out?" In this way I think smoking has a lot more in common with playing loud music than it does with drinking.

    As far as your comparison to the abortion debate. I don't think it is fair to accuse the left of "harming the innocent" until both sides have agreed upon an answer to the question "when does life begin?" (I also don't think it's fair of the left to accuse the right of impinging on a woman's civil liberties until that answer is reached) Personally I feel that the answers "conception" and "birth" are both fairly ridiculous, with "birth" being a good deal more ridiculous.

    Good points. But I don't think that linking to or posting Peggy Noonans thoughts makes me a partisan on the level of Rush Limbaugh.

    posted by Sydney on 6/03/2004 08:23:00 AM 0 comments


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