Web Only: Point/Counterpoint pt 2

Jeff Schooley

Government should butt out of bar policy

Only an overbearing uber-conservative would recommend something as ridiculous as banning smoking in bars. Any individual who would recommend such an action would be a variable Strom Thurmond for smoking, preaching a doctrine of “separate but equal,” while trying to squash the rights of a certain demographic of people.

By using a rather antiquated, yet trustworthy definition of what is liberal and what is conservative, it becomes quite clear what each would do concerning the issue of smoking in bars.

A liberal values, above all else, the individual’s rights. Each individual has the right to make whatever choices he or she desires, assuming they are within the confines of the law.

A conservative, on the contrary, sees the government for the upholding and advancement of a moralistic agenda, for example, “bring the light of democracy to the entire world.”

A liberal would be appalled (or, rather, should be) at any suggestion that the government make such a great claim into the lives of its citizenry. Who can smoke when and where is a laissez-faire issue. However, this does not appear to be the case any more.

Maybe it is because of the granola-loving, health nut hippies that have bred the current liberal doctrine, but apparently there no longer exists any need to uphold values where the body is concerned. If a body is at risk, it is inherently bad (except, of course, in the cases of abortion, Terri Schiavo and other “lifeless” humans). At any rate, liberals are now making an attack on smoking that is inconsistent with their “liberty” doctrine of “right to (fill-in-the-blank, marry, choose, etc …”)

The issue is this simple. Certain people have purchased property and can then do whatever they please on that property, assuming that the state or its citizens aren’t at risk. If a person does that, the government will not (or, again, should not) interfere. Now, let’s assume someone purchases a bar and wants to make money off of this purchase. The government, aside from liquor licenses and taxes (both of which should be used for the advancement of the citizens), cannot dictate exactly what happens there. The government cannot say that Thursday night shouldn’t be karaoke night or that happy hour must begin at 7 p.m. To do so is ludicrous.

Yet the argument is that the citizenry is at risk in a smoky bar because smoky bars kill. However, we’ve once again forgotten that there is an element of choice in the matter. Those who do not like smoky bars should not patronize them with their presence and money. To do so stands in implicit support of the establishment and its values.

What has happened is that a liberal populous has been raised up to believe that the government should do everything for them, that the government is some parental unit. The government, when it is doing what it should, does not act as such. Rather, it lets its citizens decide in a free market what is best for themselves (within some confines) and allows economics and the human condition to run its course.

A great example is my friend Josh who studied for a semester in Europe. Josh is a marathoner and health nut (though, by no means, a liberal). Josh is slightly allergic to smoke. All of Europe smokes. What did Josh do? He found a vegetarian restaurant that didn’t permit smoking, and he ate there. Thus, Josh participated in perfect democracy and capitalism, allowing his presence and his dollar (or Euro, as it was) to be his “vote.”

I do not recommend that every bar be forced to either have or not have smoking. I recommend that each bar make that decision for itself.

Jeff Schooley is a graduate student in English and an editorial writer for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him a [email protected].