Sanctimony in government

I saw the following letter to the editor in today’s Crain’s Chicago Business. It is written by Kathleen Grady, the chairwoman for the Illinois Advocacy Committee of the American Heart Association. All emphasis (and interjections) mine:

Crain’s recent article “Last call” (Aug. 6) on cigar smokers no longer able to light up at local establishments deserves some clarification. While we understand that the issue presented is convenience vs. health,[…]

Okay, let’s pause right there a moment. “[W]e understand that the issue presented is convenience vs. health”. Clearly you understand nothing, then. The issue at hand is personal freedom in an ostensibly free society. You curtailing others’ rights for your own convenience, Ms. Grady, is the issue. Business owners have a right to allow their customers to smoke (well… should). You have the right to either patronize those establishments, or not, as you choose.

[…]we know that health must prevail and be protected.

It would be good for your health if you were forbidden by law to ever leave your house. Hell, how about we simply forbid people to drive? Damnedably “inconvenient”, but if you actually believe the statement that you just made — that health “must prevail and be protected” above convenience — then you must be all for it, yes? No? Why not? Do not dismiss this as reducto ad absurdum — you are the one making the extreme, absolutist statements, not I.

We are sorry that the new Smoke-Free Illinois Act will inconvenience some cigar smokers.

We are sorry that the new “get your ass to the back of the bus” Act will inconvenience some negroes….

We know that based on other communities’ successes, cigar bars will not suffer tremendous losses and patrons will continue to enjoy cigar establishments, with the added benefit of improved health.

Smoking is deadly — period.

There you go again with the extreme, absolutist statements. Decapitation by machete is deadly — period. A lungful of Cyanide gas is deadly — period. Smoking is unhealthy. There is a vast gulf between the two terms. (I’ll give you a hint — if a person can do a thing on a regular basis for 50 years it doesn’t qualify as “deadly”.) Anyone who is unable to make such obvious distinctions has no business dictating behavior to others.

According to American Heart Assn. research, a smoker’s risk of developing coronary heart disease is two to four times greater than a non-smoker’s.

Wait just a moment. You just said it’s deadly “period”. Full Stop. So why are you proceeding to explain yourself? Do you not quite trust your own statement?

Non-smokers’ risk for heart disease jumps nearly 60% when they are exposed to secondhand smoke. Sitting in the non-smoking section of a restaurant for two hours is equivalent to smoking almost two cigarettes.

Which study is this? Does it draw from the same deeply flawed data that gave us the infamous 400,000 smoking deaths a year?

These statistics are devastating and more than a little alarming.

Of course. Like all good socialists you understand that the best way to gain control of a free people is to scare the shit out of them. “We’re All Gonna Die!!! New Laws!!! New Laws!!! Only Government Can Save Us From Ourselves!!!”

When logic doesn’t work, use emotion. (also see: global warming, gun control)

We applaud the General Assembly and Gov. Rod Blagojevich for this tremendous victory toward improving public health[…]

By the way, is that the “Royal We” you keep using? “We” are not amused. “We” in no way approve of this legislation.

[…]and for acknowledging smoke-free workplaces and establishments as a sign of the times.

You act as though something being a “sign of the times” is an automatically good thing. Terrorist threat is also a sign of the times. Contemporaneous commonality does not equal virtue.

The funny thing? I have some bad allergies, bordering on asthma. Certain pollutants, including cigar smoke, can set me off quite severely. The ability to go into any restaurant and know there will be no smoking makes my life easier; and yet I still oppose this type of government control. Why? Because unlike you, Kathleen Grady, I do not place my personal preferences above the rights of others.

[Update: added “gun control” link, above]

Comments are invited and encouraged

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