One Controversy Down, One to Go
Now that the Great Yarn Bombing Granny Rebellion seems settled, let’s not forget the other controversial topic on city council’s plate. The council is going to discuss the proposed City of Conway smoking ban at the workshop section of Monday’s meeting.
While the standoff between the city government and the grannies was quite entertaining, the proposed smoking ban possesses much more serious overtones for citizens of Conway…property rights. Where do you draw the line between where you control your life and property and where you give that control over to a governmental bureaucracy?
This is not a new or unique tug of war. It is based on an idea as old as there have been groups of people. At its core, the smoking ban is based on the subjective notion of “they are different from us”. People who smoke are dirtier, dumber, less healthy, stinky-er and weaker than those of us who don’t smoke.
This gives us the right to help them by telling them how to be cleaner, smarter, healthier, smell better and be stronger. You know, be like us. Sounds good, right?
But let’s look beyond the cigar, pipe or cigarette. Smoking, as bad as it may be, is not as evil as this “do it for their own good” philosophy. Maybe a look at history will make my point…
Some two thousand years ago, this Jewish fellow ran afoul of the Jewish powers that were because he was different. Now the Jewish folk were themselves being governed by the “better” Romans, who considered the Jews different for that whole one god thing.
Well, the Jewish fellow’s followers turned out to be even more different than the regular Jews, so the Romans—justifiably, since these new Christian people were just so weird—used them for target practice and lion food.
Later, turnabout became fair play when the Christians became the normal folks and the Jews, pagans and druids got to be different. Since the Romans had used up all of the lions, target practice was the acceptable way of “helping the heathens” change their ways and become normal.
Over time, the Vikings, an Irish monk, some Asians and a guy named Chris discovered America. America was supposed to be a place where being different was OK…sort of. You see, there were already folks in America who were---you guessed it—different. They were so different in fact that it was perfectly acceptable to civilize these “savages” and take their land. Those that didn’t get with the program and get normal ended up on reservations where they could be different by themselves.
While the natives were enjoying the fruits of becoming un-different, some really cool guys went to a place called Africa and found some other different people and said, “hey, these beings are so different that we don’t even have to consider them human. We’ll take some home and they can do our grunt work and we will help them become civilized like us.’
Time passed and one part of America got to thinking that people with slaves were different from them and the slave owning folks thought the same about them. Well, they got into this great big fight and tore up a whole passel of stuff. In the end, the slaves and the former slave owners got to be different together. Then they became different apart, kind of like the Jews and Christians under the Romans. Isn’t it funny how history repeats itself?
While all of this was going on in America, in a place called Russia, the rule setters were having a time with their own different people called serfs. The serfs got tired of being different, and since there were a lot more serfs than cool Russians, they rebelled, changed their name to Comrade and decided that from now own, nobody could be different. Anybody who didn’t like it got shot…for their own good of course.
That seemed like a good idea to a fellow a couple of doors over named Adolf, and he made being different against the law in his country too. Remember those Jewish folks, well some of them had over the previous 1000 years, moved to Adolf’s zip code and deja’ vu all over again, were different. Adolf also thought people who smoke were different and helped them get right with Adolf…for their own good of course.
After Adolf and his buddies ran out of different people to push around, they ended up with the different treatment…for everybody else’s own good. The Comrades hung around for a while longer until the different people decided not to be.
Meanwhile, back in America, some of the different people decided that anybody who doesn’t wear bedding to work is different. Well, this went over like a lead balloon with both the different folks from Africa and the really cool normal people. They told the sheet-wearing people to go sit in the closet and not come out until they could be normal. The clannish sheet wearers did, but when they came out of the closet, that phrase had a different meaning and the sheet wearers died of embarrassment. This was very entertaining to the folks who came out of the closet for another reason.
What’s the point? Everyone who reads this has an ancestor who at one time or another suffered at the hands of a government for being different. If we don’t defend the smokers, who will defend the next “different” group?
Smoking is dying on it’s own and will be a memory in a generation or so. But, if smoking is such a problem in Conway, South Carolina, then outlaw tobacco. I don’t smoke, but I have been accused of being “different” on occasion.