Smoking Bans Stunt Liberty
[The following comments by Craig Latzke and Rodney Mitchell were submitted as letters. Following those remarks, Ari Armstrong adds his own notes.]
As a non-smoker who passed out flyers all over downtown Fort Collins against the smoking ban just a few days before it passed, I was excited and pessimistic to consider this prospect: pre-emption against smoking bans.
Will the Colorado Legislature do for general liberty what it did for gun rights (and will they botch it as much, requiring a permit and training to smoke)?
With the nanny-state-wanting do-gooders around here (who must have been imported from California), I'm surprised I'm allowed to go to the grocery store or restaurants and actually choose what I eat without a license, training, and a ban on anything with trans-fats, real fats, taste, or quantity.
The smoking ban might not concern many of your readers, but these are the little things that are boiling the frog of freedom and liberty. We need to wake up and actively fight this kind of nonsense. After all, we're not frogs, we're intelligent human beings and should be able to clearly see the incremental increases in temperature and decreases in liberty.
You might find the news article in today's Daily Camera (Monday, September 15, 2003), on Page 3 of Section B, titled "State Legislature may get involved in anti-smoke laws," subtitled, "Statewide ban or law undermining local rules could be on table" by Cindy Brovsky, Associated Press, to be of interest.
Blink and you might have missed it. Oddly, what appears to be an news item about smoking bans in bars and restaurants, appears to be a forum to whine about State laws circumventing oppressive local victim disarmament laws in Boulder and Denver. Please note the quote from Colorado Municipal League's associate director, Sam Mamet. He states, "The tobacco lobby will seek a statewide solution in an effort to pre-empt all municipal ordinances. They've pulled this stunt before with the concealed weapons law." That quote is then followed by a paragraph that says, "Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled Legislature and GOP Gov. Bill Owens were able to pass a bill that bars local governments from making gun control laws more restrictive than the state's and abolished local registries of gun owners."
I do not think I need to point out to you everything that is wrong with all of the above quotes. But I will mention a few of the obvious ones anyway.
1. When did "Big Tobacco" start lobbying for gun rights? Silly me, I was under the impression that this was brought about by the efforts of a large number of gun owners, Libertarians and second amendment rights organizations lobbying their elected representatives.
2. They smear the Gun Rights Group with an imaginary link to Big tobacco, or vice versa, a pejorative association of Gun Rights with tobacco smokers. The nerve of anyone wanting to smoke anything they want and to be able to defend themselves!
3. Pulled what before? Oh my god, you mean citizens went to the polls and elected representatives who then passed some vague version of the will of the people into law. Is it possible that sometimes the system actually works? I am certain you will see more. Thank you for your good work. I enjoy your writing.
Let's be generous and assume Mamet was simply sloppy with his pronoun, and that by "they" he meant state legislators. However, it is no coincidence that the advocates of local fascism favor both restrictive disarmament ordinances and coercive anti-smoking rules. It is also no coincidence that the enemies of liberty completely ignore the substantive issues, and instead choose to demonize a "tobacco lobby" or a "gun lobby," ignoring also the fact that independent citizens (like us) simply want to live in a free society untainted by Nanny State restrictions. What is most offensive about Mamet's comments is that he refers to protecting the rights of citizens as a mere "stunt." I guess the Bill of Rights was the greatest "stunt" of all time.
The main problem with Brovsky's AP article, which also ran September 18 in the Rocky Mountain News, is that it talks only about "local control," while it completely ignores issues like property rights, economic liberty, and individual rights.
But of course the left doesn't actually give a damn about local control. If it did, its members would argue that states and cities should be able to outlaw abortion. (They would also argue Amendment 22 should be repealed, because a majority of voting citizens in a third of Colorado's counties opposed it.) No, leftists who would ban smoking care only about subverting individual rights, through whatever level of government that task can most conveniently be accomplished.
"I disapprove of what you smoke, but I will defend to the death your right to smoke it."
For more comments, see my previous article.