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Saturday, June 07, 2003

The city of Austin officially joined the bandwagon and decided to ban smoking in bars. I have to question who are these people who are getting elected? The rhetoric they tend to slobber during their stump speeches tends to be so muddled and incoherant as to sincerely make me think that they just ran out of things to do to pretend local politics matter - so they're attacking one of the most universally "okay to attack" groups - smokers.

The whole rationale behind these bans tends to be that people going to bars shouldn't have to ingest, inhale or otherwise consume toxins. I'd question if any of these politicians understand that the normative function of a pub isn't knitting sweaters. From time to time, someone manages to consume an alcoholic beverage or two - if they're really concerned with saving the world, maybe we should prohibit alcohol altogether. We could even have a constitutional amendment - it worked out huge the first time, bootlegger style. Someone who goes to a bar to drink, but doesn't want to be in the presence of smoke is like someone who, to be perfectly cliche, orders a Diet Coke with their Double McFatass with cheese.

Even people who work in bars - what exactly were they under the impression they were getting in to? If you work in a landfill, you may, from time to time, come in contact with refuse you find distasteful. There's a solution. Don't work at a landfill. Smoking is a natural part of the bar atmosphere - many people like to smoke when they drink. There's absolutely no reason why they should not be able to.

People, in general, need to understand the difference between what they'd prefer, and what they have an actual right to. You have the right to go to a bar, if it allows the general public in and you are of age (or have $50 for a fake). They cannot prohibit your entrance based on race, gender, sexual preference, and so on and so forth. You do not have a right to dictate the terms under which the establishment operates, either by mandating it through law or enforcing it with a shotgun. Inasmuch as providing a place to enjoy smoking (a legal activity) with your drink is a legitimate business, there's no reason whatsoever to say that, because a tiny minority cares about the ambiant smoke, there ought to be legislation passed prohibiting it.

If I want to go to a baseball game, but refuse to sit in the sun becuase it could burn me or increase the liklihood that I'll get skin cancer, that doesn't mean I have a right to shade. The stadium owners do not have to build a dome so that I don't have to be assaulted by the horrible radiation from the sun. I also do not have a right to a seat with four feet on all sides, because I do not want to catch a cold from any other stadium goers. The simple fact is that, if one does not want to deal with the corollary activities at their chosen venue for entertainment, there's a simple solution: stop going.

What's really stupid about the whole thing is that there is obviously no real demand for this to happen. In a city with 50 bars, if a mere 4% really cared about not having to be in a smokey room while they shotgunned car bombs, one bar banning smoking would automatically have double the average attendance within the city. If a substantial number cared (say, 10%), a single nonsmoking bar going could very quickly become the most popular place in the city, forcing other bars to follow suit. Were this actually the case, you'd see a virtual epidemic of smoke-free bars (as we've seen with many family resturaunts). In some cases, the market really DOES solve, and this is one of them.

Instead, when bars go nonsmoking or people attempt to start a nonsmoking bar, it goes bankrupt. Why? Because people simply don't care that much, or, as much as nonsmokers seem not to comprehend it, they enjoy doing it. Let's stop trying to legislate the world and engage in such rampant Disnification, especially of the last remaining bastion of socially accepted debauchery- the local bar. We've gotten rid of the brothels (now we call them "sororities"), let's go ahead and leave some legal outlet to depravity, lest we become a little too puritanical.

cranked out at 4:20 AM | |

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