...busting up my brains for the words

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Smoking ban talk and hitler

I'm listening to the NARN rebroadcast from yesterday here on this quiet Sunday evening. I was unable to hear it "live" yesterday as I was at my BPOU Christmas party.
I must say, the NARN boys are really reaching new heights of anger and histrionics over this issue. Chad the Elder is just livid over this issue and has taken to ranting. Mitch Berg confessed to being close to speechless over the issue, he was so flummoxed. As a regular listener of Mitch's radio appearances, that's extremely rare. King Banion, usually a very reasonable and measured fellow, actually made the Hitler comparison. Quoting from memory, King said something to the effect;
"And the proponents of this ban talk of preserving FREEDOM for bar-goers. Well guess what. Hitler claimed the very same thing!"
It is a very sad thing for me to observe that my friends and fellow MOBsters are actually taking pages from in their vitriolic attacks.
And I suspect I know why; Because they are losing the battle.

I've been reluctant to go toe to toe with my friends over this issue because I've suspected all along that the news that Terry Keegan brought to the broadcast would come to fruition. Terry reports that a statewide ban on smoking in bars is inevitable. Why should I strain my good spirited relationships with my fellow bloggers over this issue if there's no reason for me to raise their ire? Another reason I am reluctant to argue with my friends is that they are so out of control, as yesterday's NARN show demonstrated very clearly. They scream of the arrogance of the ban proponents. They rage over the disingenousness of the pro-ban folk. But my friends should not confuse me with those bitter elements, for I am none of those things and have not joined any of those pitched ranks.

I've written an email to Terry Keegan;

Hi Terry.
I'm in support of the smoking ban. I was cheered to hear you on NARN Saturday when you explained that the statewide ban is inevitable. Bravo! It's unfortunate that any bar should go out of business or suffer poor business due to the ban. But I think it's necessary for the health of the people of Minnesota. I attend bars at least as much if not more now that the ban is in effect. It is such a pleasure to be able to go to my favorite bars and not be poisoned. I'm sure you've noticed that I've been a regular customer of Keegan's lately. I support you. If smoking were allowed in your wonderful bar, I'm not so sure I'd want to do that so often. See you soon. -Scott

So why do I bring up the subject now, if I claim I am reluctant to argue the issue? Because the best political talk show on radio, The Northern Alliance Radio Network, made it a topic of discussion. Just because I disagree with the boys over this one doesn't trump the quality of this great show.

I respectfully disagree with them. And if being in opposition to the ban makes those folks More Conservative than Thou, then I'll concede that I'm not held in such high esteem as they are. Is that a sin?

I still maintain the issue is a health issue. I applaud the ban. The sooner it goes statewide, the sooner the local business competition will compete on a level field.


  • At 8:01 AM, Blogger marcus aurelius said…


    Secondhand smoke is definitely not a health issue, two government agencies recently proved that right here:

  • At 6:00 PM, Blogger King said…

    I regret using the Hitler reference (I contemplated shooting myself, but Lileks was coming), but not the context of this. You are saying something that you think is good for you is good for everyone else, and that you are reducing other people's freedom in order to help them. That's well down the road to serfdom, the title of a book Hayek wrote about the reaction to Hitler. Just to bring things full circle.

  • At 9:00 PM, Blogger pinkmonkeybird said…

    Welcome to my blog.
    I'm writing a careful and thoughtful, (so I hope) reply. I'll publish tomorrow.

  • At 2:52 PM, Blogger pinkmonkeybird said…


    " I regret using the Hitler reference... but not the context of this."
    Is that the same as saying that while you regret using the Hitler reference, you're going to use it anyway?

    "You are saying something that you think is good for you[,] is good for everyone else, and that you are reducing other people's freedom in order to help them."

    Let me clarify that I do not take the position that "everyone else" will benefit from the ban. And I maintain that it is regretable that the smokers will lose some of their freedom. With this issue somebody is going to be unhappy and I think that somebody should be the group that poisons the air.
    One could say it's the lesser of several evil choices (if you'll allow that I'm not talking Hitler evil).
    I'm not interested in imposing good choices on smokers against their will. After all, they've already demonstrated that they are not capable of making wise health choices. When I reduce that group's freedom, if they benefit, it's really just a side benefit mostly. A little extra whipped cream and a cherry with choco sprinkles on top, as this group of smokers will benefit despite their opposition to the ban. I truly wish we could find a solution that would make everybody happy.

    Being unable to do that, I support the larger group's happiness.

    Neither choice, not pro-ban or anti-ban, is as evil as Hitler. Thanks for your expressed regret, King.

  • At 11:33 PM, Blogger Atomizer said…

    With all due respect, PMB, knock it the hell off! You are, purportedly, a conservative. A conservative would let business owners decide how they want to conduct their business. If you don't like the way a particular bar operates, you don't have to patronize them. Stop pushing your "Smoke is icky" campaign on all of us who vehemently disagree.

    Also, your sanctimonious arrogance is not helping your case. Writing this:
    "I'm not interested in imposing good choices on smokers against their will. After all, they've already demonstrated that they are not capable of making wise health choices."
    can only help to inflame matters.

    Drop the patronizing B.S. You may find that people are more receptive if you stop treating them like children.

  • At 5:25 AM, Blogger pinkmonkeybird said…

    You're joking, right?
    While I am a former smoker, I don't pretend to be all-wise in all aspects of my life choices.
    Is this the crux of the vitriol? Pride?

  • At 11:23 AM, Blogger American Lung Association of Minnesota said…

    "Is this the crux of the vitriol? Pride?"

    Not pride, I think, but shame. People of good will and intelligence who oppose the common-sense smoking ordinances realize, at some level, that they are facilitating an unhealthy (legal)habit that kills people.

    There is also, unfortunately, a tendency many bloggers have to 'turn on their own' if anyone like yourself dares to break ranks. This is true of blogs on the right and the left.

    I find it interesting that people who claim to care about civil liberties spend so much time talking about "bar owner rights" and so little on major issues like SCOTUS Kelso vs New London, Jose Padilla, etc..

    Once again, PMB, thank you for having the courage to say what you know in heart to be true...

  • At 10:53 AM, Blogger pinkmonkeybird said…

    I owe it to those who come to this blog to more fully explain my position. It is important to me that I do so respectfully. I will post more on this next week, hopefully. The minute I become condescending or insulting, my friends will be tempted to stop listening and will viciously attack.

    I disagree that shame has any part in this, Lung. But you're right about how the heat of this issue seems to violate the usual political parameters. I first became acquainted with this from a radical anti-American leftie in NYC who was appalled by the "fascist" ban in that city.

    I think my anti-ban conservative friends are principled in their decision. Their anger is aggravated by the obscene amounts of money spent in false public address information. You speak of common sense. My common sense tells me that 38,000 deaths per year from second hand smoke is an absurd exaggeration.

    I think the number is actually much lower and that the ALA would be well advised to use a more reliable figure.

    The conservative anti-ban folk are proud of their principled stand and angered that big money lies are employed in what is already an open field in tobacco bashing.

    "I find it interesting that people who claim to care about civil liberties spend so much time talking about "bar owner rights" and so little on major issues like SCOTUS Kelso vs New London, Jose Padilla, etc.."

    Cheap shot, Lung. Of course the anti-ban conservatives are concerned for civil liberties.

    Sorry if it looks like I'm out to bruise you, Lung (btw, I call you lung with affection. I am pink lung), but my aim is to call 'em as I see 'em.
    Respectfully, I appreciate your work, but I think it might be a good idea to seek out some help at ALAM in putting to rest once and for all, the statistical refutation of the health hazards of second hand smoke. My principled friends think they are winning on that score. It's your job to prove them wrong.

  • At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was directed to your site after a friendly exchange with the ALAM, as I recently mused on the topic of bans on my site. Milwaukee is considering a citywide ban, and being a conservative AND a hater of smoke, I am conflicted. My heart says the ban is good, my head can't get beyond the free market/personal responsibility issues. I'm still working it out.

    I appreciated reading your own thoughts, and those of your detractors.


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