Monday, November 20, 2006

N&N'S Hatemail from NDP Council Matt Todd - Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love second-hand smoke.

Here it is, folks. The wrath of Todd, unabridged, as read by Leonard Nimoy. My response is as follows. But please do note, as I'm a private sector employee with some measure of responsibility and productivity expected of me, don't expect such lengthy replies, or even necessarily any at all to these kinds of posts, as common practice. I have simply way too much on my plate to devote either the time or energy to continually hacking out essays for the benefit of local bureaucrats.

For starters and for the clarity of N&N's readers, the legislation in question....

Described here...

Since Bhutan seems to be getting by just fine without tobacco sales, White Rock Councillor Matt Todd wants to see if we can make it work here. He's proposing that White Rock become the first city in Canada to ban tobacco sales.

....does not ban the ownership or use of tobacco, per se, as per Mr. Todd's assurances. That is to say, it would only ban it's usage as a sellable commodity by store owners, an undeniable comfort.

In order to get the pipes off the shelves, the province would have to ban tobacco sales first. "It feels like the right thing to do, but how to implement I'm just not sure that it's possible," said Todd.

Now, to the meat of the matter. Namely, that I am some manner of anarchist who laughs like Bela Lugosi in the face of child seat belt laws, and must naturally endorse drunk driving in the wrong lane of city traffic, seeing as I support the rights of merchants to sell tobacco in their own stores.


Saying I support A and must therefore support B is unadulterated sophistry, and properly deserving of the malignment you would heap on me for suggesting that your wish to regulate tobacco usage makes you an unswerving advocate of martial law and jackbooted thuggery. Machinelike ideological consistency is neither politically desirous, nor practical in application. Principles inform us, but application of principle must be tempered with wisdom and sound judgment.

Rather than a linear ideological extrapolation, I have made a judgment call in accordance with my ideology that says such things need not be regulated so. Period. You have made one in accordance with your ideology that says they must be. Period. The limitless extension of the principles that inform my decision, result in a degree of civic freedom you consider dangerous to others and undesirable. The limitless extension of yours, have, with unerring consistency, ended in economic stagnation, loss of liberty, poverty, and a morally timorous civic society made helpless and trained to look to the state as the solver of society's ills. As they do now, with cries to the government to enforce their 'right' to not be exposed to smokers.

As to your comments analogizing trace amounts of outdoor second-hand smoke to a veritable firehose of benzene and abestos, I will offer the concession that despite its generally hyperbolic unpersuasiveness, it's certainly your perogative and seems to be working in those ads played in movie theaters.

However, I will express my profound sense of civic concern and suspicion at those willing to enact sweeping legislation targeting commerce, behavior, and what can and can't be done on private property, based on even the possibility of exposure to trace amounts of potential airborn toxins numbering in fractions of parts per million, comparable to say, a walk through a parking lot. Many, myself included, see this as a rather frightening precedent. And if your chief concern is indeed the children who start, you had best be prepared to get into their parents homes, though I'm all but certain that's not far off.

Even if we agree philosophically with the premise that something as dangerous as tobacco should be heavily regulated, (which I don't) are we to believe that the purpose of such legislation is to make a tangible contribution to the public welfare? Doubtless many will be more inclined to see it as a largely symbolic and politically motivated act, aimed in no small part at entrenching cultural attitudes about the role of government as the citizen's nanny.

Or likelier still, a resume-enhancing career move by a bushy-tailed young socialist who dreams himself a future rising star in the NDP, if only he can get some really cutting-edge legislation pushed through. ("And he was so young when he did it, too! Keep an eye on that Todd boy!")

And you can tell Og I said so.

Further Reading:

Where There's Smoke, You Don't Have to Be

Smoking and Property Rights


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