Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.”     Robert H. Jackson

January 31, 2006

Carnival Of Liberty XXX

by Doug Mataconis

Carnival of Liberty XXX is up at Mover Mike. I haven’t had a chance to read through anything yet, but it looks like we had another great set of contributions. Go check it out.

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22 Comments

  1. It was disappointing to see a smoking Nazi like Dan Melson over there.

    Comment by John Newman — February 1, 2006 @ 2:15 pm
  2. Playing devil’s advocate for a moment, what makes regulating smoking anti-liberty? I realize it is an article of faith in the libertarian community that smoking regulations/laws are part and parcel of the nanny government. I am a firm believer that you should be able to do whatever you want to your own body without interference from the government or nosy Mrs. Grundy. But, how is regulating where you can smoke so that you don’t do harm to others anti-liberty?

    Comment by Eric — February 1, 2006 @ 9:49 pm
  3. First, you would have to prove conclusively that second-hand smoke harms others in regular everyday situations – which it doesn’t.

    Comment by John Newman — February 2, 2006 @ 6:35 am
  4. Mmmmm, I don’t know enough about the research on that topic to agree, or disagree, with that broad of a statement. That said, there are most certainly specific individuals, such as asthmatics, who will be harmed by second-hand smoke.

    But, you do agree, that if someone is causing harm to others by their actions, those actions can be regulated by the state without it being an unreasonable intrusion by the state? What about harm to other’s property?

    Comment by Eric — February 2, 2006 @ 6:57 am
  5. I would suggest that asthmatics and others don’t go to bars or eateries where people smoke. Or live in cities that spew pollution in the air, or drive behind a city bus. Antartica is nice.

    Cologne and hairspray conntain carcinogens that when breathed can be harmful, besides the smell drives me nuts. I avoid people that drench themselves with the smelly stuff. If I am seated next to them at a restaurant, I move, I don’t ask for regulations.

    Comment by John Newman — February 2, 2006 @ 7:20 am
  6. So, you are suggesting that it is okay for a smoker to cause harm to others, and it is the other person’s responsibility to avoid the harm? That the smoker is not responsible?

    Comment by Eric — February 2, 2006 @ 10:14 am
  7. Give me an effing break. First, you must prove that second-hand smoke positively causes any harm in the minute amounts that people may come in contact with in a day. Have fun with that. Then, if I am in a bar and the owner allows smoking anyone that doesn’t like smoke should probably not go in there.

    Comment by John Newman — February 2, 2006 @ 3:07 pm
  8. 1. I’m not talking about private property.
    2. I haven’t looked at the research to know, one way or another, whether second hand smoke causes harm, or not. What I do know is that the research has been heavily politicized by both sides of the argument, and neither set of arguments is trustworthy. In other words, we don’t know the answer, which is not the same as “yes, it causes harm” or “no, it does not cause harm”.
    3. Nice way to debate a point. Have you considered that you technically win, but in actuality lose, through your approach to the discussion?
    4. If the only valid reason for government to exist is to protect life, liberty and property, regulating smoking in public places might actually be a valid purpose of government. Setting aside the rhetoric of those who want a nanny government and those who want to yell against it, there is evidence that second hand smoke in enclosed spaces causes harm to non-smokers.

    Comment by Eric — February 2, 2006 @ 6:57 pm
  9. First Eric says:
    I haven’t looked at the research to know, one way or another, whether second hand smoke causes harm, or not.

    Then Eric says:
    there is evidence that second hand smoke in enclosed spaces causes harm to non-smokers.

    To which I reply, Make up your mind.

    Comment by John Newman — February 6, 2006 @ 4:15 pm
  10. I haven’t made up my mind, but, I’m playing devil’s advocate here. If there is evidence that second hand smoke causes harm to others, then what obligation does society have to provide its citizens with protection of their life, liberty and property? Your answer appears to be that it is incumbent on only the individual citizen and that society bears no responsibility.

    Comment by Eric — February 6, 2006 @ 5:13 pm
  11. Does society owe you a job? Why do you think society owes you anything?

    Comment by John Newman — February 7, 2006 @ 12:35 pm
  12. Eric, the real question is to what degree of harm is society obliged to protect you from? Clearly laws should be in place to punish or regulate Coca-Cola lacing their product with strychnine. On the opposite end of the spectrum, regulating something that is marginally harmful (or not at all) to small subset of the population is probably not the government’s place. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that John believes smoking to be firmly rooted in the latter  camp. But the question remains, where is the line? At what point does the responsiblity shift from the harmer to the harmed? Does it ever?

    Comment by Bret — February 7, 2006 @ 4:49 pm
  13. What do you think we institute government for?

    Comment by Eric — February 7, 2006 @ 7:26 pm
  14. Eric, if you aren’t talking about private property, then what are you talking about?

    Government office spaces? The govt. is the private property owner. Do what it wants.

    Govt. services offices? I think they should be smoke free since all of us must do business with the govt. at some time.

    Sidewalks? No harm done. Not enclosed.

    Stadiums? Don’t care. I’m fine with the regs there if the govt. is the owner. Otherwise, it should belong to the owner.

    Again, if you aren’t talking about private property, then what? It doesn’t seem that hard. What smoking regs are about though IS PRIVATE PROPERTY. Restaurants – bars – clubs. Banning smoking from places regardless of what the owner wants for his own business.

    That most certainly is anti-freedom.

    And I don’t smoke and, when my daughter is with me, don’t go to places that allow it. But thanks to the big government, that is getting easier and easier.

    Comment by KJ — February 7, 2006 @ 8:12 pm
  15. Question: Does second hand smoke cause harm?

    Eric’s Answer: I don’t know because there are conflicting pieces of evidence. But, there is at least some evidence that it does.

    So, assume for a moment that second hand smoke in enclosed spaces conclusively causes harm to non-smokers.

    That being the case, due to the publicity of this, smokers are aware that their activity can cause other people harm. This means that smoking in enclosed spaces with non-smokers present is akin to assault. If we believe that government is instituted to protect our life, liberty and property then government has an obligation, based on that social contract, to take action to prevent smoking in enclosed spaces.

    That is the basis of the argument for regulating smoking in enclosed spaces. If you subscribe to the philosophy that your right to do as you please stops one inch short of your fist hitting my nose, then you should agree with this position, as long as it is true that second hand smoke causes injury. The real question then, is whether that is the case, or not. Assuming, of course, that you agree that the reason we institute government is to protect life, liberty and property. That sentence created an implied negative about someone who didn’t agree with regulating second hand smoke that wasn’t appropriate to an open conversation. Rather than simply delete it, I thought it was more appropriate to strike it out and explain why.

    Comment by Eric — February 7, 2006 @ 8:46 pm
  16. Just adding to these thoughts. If the above assumptions are true, bear in mind that second hand smoke is not voluntary in the same sense that smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol or driving your car fast is.

    On a side note, I don’t think government regulation is the solution. Market forces will correct the problem, if it needs to be corrected. Enough people feel that second hand smoke is a problem that restaurants that don’t allow smoking will do just fine, for example. Market forces will allow for choice, which government regulations don’t.

    That said, if the situation is actually harmful, as depicted by some of the evidence, government regulation of an activity that causes harm to others is not as unduly anti-freedom as it is often portrayed. The flip side, of course, is that it may not be particularly harmful. In which case it fits right in with the other environmental activist nonsense. The real issue is that we have government regulation based on the precautionary principle, which is absolutely the wrong answer for dealing with public policy.

    Comment by Eric — February 7, 2006 @ 10:59 pm
  17. Eric said:
    That being the case, due to the publicity of this, smokers are aware that their activity can cause other people harm. This means that smoking in enclosed spaces is akin to assault.

    “Akin to assault?” What in the hell are YOU smoking.

    Comment by John Newman — February 8, 2006 @ 8:56 am
  18. John, if you do something that causes injury or harm to another person, if it isn’t assault, what is it?

    Comment by Eric — February 8, 2006 @ 8:45 pm
  19. Have you stopped to consider that this is a valid topic to be discussed? Or that your points are not strengthened through nasty comments? Or looked at whether taking a position contrary to the conventional wisdom of the group and defending it is a valid means to understanding the debate?

    Or do you just indulge in ad hominem discussions when you don’t like what someone says?

    Comment by Eric — February 8, 2006 @ 9:10 pm
  20. Eric, do you ever read what you write? I mean, some of it is idiotic. It is not that I disagree with it, it is that there is no other word to describe it.

    And then you ask me if I have stopped to consider that this a valid subject to consider. DUH!!! I’m the one that started the discussion.

    And please don’t start with that ad hominem attack crap. If a person is retarded, you call him retarded; if he is short, you call him short; if he says something stupid, you point out he said something stupid.

    Saying a smoker who exhales smoke in the presence of another person is assaulting him is stupid and idiotic. There just are no other words for such a comment and it is obvious that you cannot carry on a discussion without resorting to nonsense.

    Comment by John Newman — February 9, 2006 @ 4:10 pm
  21. John:

    1. You didn’t bother to consider the logic at all. I’ll explain in small words. If you know something is harmfult others and you do it anyway, then you have intentionally caused harm.

    2. You don’t like it, but when you attack the person by calling them “idiotic” or “stupid” you are using a personal attack to try and invalidate the idea. That is an ad hominem attack. You clearly don’t understand the logical fallacy of such an argument.

    3. You didn’t try to start a discussion, you tried to bash someone because you don’t agree with them.

    Because of the above, this discussion is done. If you continue this sort of behavior I’ll ban you by email and IP address. You are more than welcome to discuss anything you want on this blog. You are more than welcome to disagree with anyone. But the continued use of personal attacks is not welcome, nor conducive to a constructive discussion.

    Comment by Eric — February 11, 2006 @ 12:41 pm
  22. 1. Really? Would that be like an injurious truth as compared to an injurious lie?

    2. I didn’t call you an idiot or stupid, I said your statement was.

    3. No, I pointed out that Meslon was no better than a Nazi in his attitude to smoking. You may want to look into the Nazi treatment of smokers if you think I’m kidding.

    4. Now we know free speech is not welcome here.

    btw, do you stand by your statement that second hand smoke is akin to assault?

    Comment by John Newman — February 11, 2006 @ 2:20 pm

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