Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Spin In Your Grave, Voltaire!

Famously, Voltaire was quoted as saying, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." Libertarians tend to carry the spirit of this quote as an underpinning to their philosophy.

For instance, I hold cigarette smoking in extremely low regard. Smoking is damaging to your health, and makes the air surrounding the smoker stinky, unpleasant, and harmful to me besides. That's why I choose to limit the time I spend in smoky bars. It's tough, too, because I love to play poker, and with poker the fad that it is, many bars host free-to-play poker tournaments as a way to draw traffic. But if you want to smoke, it's your life. Smoke away. I don't think it's smart or pleasant, but hey- have a nice day.

Because smoke is stinky and harmful is why I choose to not let people smoke in my house. It's my house, and I set the rules in my house. My house is my dominion. OK... it's our dominion. Ame and I agree on this.

But your house is your dominion. You set the rules there... unless you are a business in Indianapolis. Then, the City-County Council sets the rules in your house regarding smoking. As reported here last night, the City-County Council passed the smoking ban by a wide 18-9 margin. Indy Star story.

Proponents of the smoking ban were at once pleased and disappointed. They were pleased that the ban passed. They were disappointed that it didn't cover more areas of life. Proponents are calling the ban that passed 'a good first step', indicating that they do want to go further in the future.

It begs the question, "how far"? From the Star:
But Republican Councilman Scott Schneider, who voted against the ban, questioned whether -- in the name of health -- the city might someday ban fried foods.

"Where do we draw the line as a society?" he asked. "Where does this body stop?"

Today, my house is my house unless my house is a business. Will tomorrow's ban include my residence? Your car? We see that nanny laws already extend into the car.

Click It Or Ticket is a nationwide campaign to get people to wear their seat belts. Like the smoking ban, it is meant as a safety campaign. Like the smoking ban, it pits health and safety against liberty. Indy Star story.

Wearing the seat belt is probably the smart choice. Sure, there is the study that shows that when people wear seat belts, they fell safer, so they drive faster, resulting in more accidents. But, if you are in that accident, you are probably not going to die. Your car will need repairs, though, so that's probably why the insurance companies and auto body shops have always been in favor of the seat belt laws.

A big complaint with the smoking laws or with Click It Or Ticket is that the safety forces are diverted from their usual business in order to make a political demonstration. This is clearly not the best use of safety forces. From the Star on Click It Or Ticket:
"There will be zero tolerance. That's zero. None," Col. Larry R. Rollins, assistant superintendent for the Indiana State Police, said at a news conference Monday.


But Rollins and others dispute that notion, arguing that driving should be considered a regulated privilege, not a right.

"It's a political issue," Rollins said. "But I think that everyone in a motor vehicle needs to be restrained."

On smoking:
Councilwoman Marilyn Pfisterer, a Republican, questioned whether police officers should be taken away from more serious crimes to deal with the ban. She also questioned whether the Marion County Health Department, with its roughly 30
inspectors, was prepared to enforce the measure.

"The ordinance is virtually unenforceable," she said.

Maybe these energies would have been better spent in educational campaigns, showing people how better choices could be made. This would at least leave people liberty enough to make the choices that affect their lives, taking the results as their own, too. That way, police could chase murderers, rapists, and violent criminals rather than decent citizens who make choices some might not say are smart.

Wouldn't it make Indianapolis more attractive if it were a more tolerant place and less a place were busybody, know-it-all nannies micromanage the details of our lives?

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