Z Blog: If you’re gonna ban something …
Smoking is about to become as acceptable in Colorado as lynx hunting.
The Legislature has passed and the governor is promising to sign a law banning smoking in most public places.
I don’t smoke. I think it’s an obnoxious habit. I don’t like having to watch rock concerts in a carcinogenic cloud. Were I given the chance to vote on the law, I’d say, “Go ahead, ban it.”
But I can’t see marching in the street or calling the cops on some cigarette-sucking scofflaw at the local bar.
The government’s role is to make sure we don’t shoot each other or get drunk and plow into crowds with our SUVS. If we do commit these hideous acts, the government’s job is to punish us severely by providing us with a cramped, dangerous place to live ” a room with a really lousy view and an exercise yard full of white supremacist gangsters.
The government also makes sure we don’t take things that don’t belong to us or fake our own kidnapping or stockpile weapons of mass destruction or tell people the names of undercover CIA agents or send e-mails to terrorists. See, even I can admit laws are the pillar of our free society.
But I find it gloomy any time the government tells Americans they can’t do something that no one really considers a crime.
Smoking isn’t harmless ” second-hand smoke is unpleasant at best, and potentially fatal if you’ve got bad luck. In that case, it’s more of a threat to the public than a teenager doing a bunch of acid and listening to music in his bedroom ” which the government also says isn’t allowed.
Like I said, smoking is a dopey habit ” especially when it’s done by office workers huddled in sleet outside their building, exiled like lepers from our decent cublicle-based society.
But if the Legislature is going to ban something, state or federal law should force them to permit something that was previously off limits ” like fireworks or shopping without pants on or marijuana.
Colorado and the rest of the country have gone a little bit “ban” crazy. Both liberals and conservatives have their pet prohibitions, though both groups will jump at the chance to react to the headlines and criminalize something that’s causing distress on Oprah and the Today Show ” like creepy activities in Internet chat rooms, cold medicine being used to make hideous drugs, mobsters cursing on HBO, riding go-carts in a chicken suit, performing a seance without a state-licensed leprechaun, etc., etc …
But most lawmakers aren’t risk takers. They probably don’t want to un-criminalize some harmless behaviors ” it might make them look soft on values or low on morals when they’re trying to get re-elected.
So maybe such a ban-and-permit rule would at least be negative reinforcement ” if politicians were forced to legalize nudity in public, maybe they wouldn’t make cursing a crime punishable by up to 60 days in jail and $1,000 fine.
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