We have not made the civil liberties argument. Mostly because it seems
The right to pursue happiness is not--or shouldn't be--the right of
one group to wrathfully pursue the happiness of others, and try to run
it out of town.
Rights, in fact, aren't--or shouldn't be-- a zero-sum game, in which,
for one group to have rights, another is made to have none.
The Cornell University Center for Hospitality Research did a study in
1995 (undoubtedly showing all the usual flaws of a "study") but it seemed
to indicate that 47% of smokers said they avoid smoke-free restaurants,
and 59% say they actively seek restaurants that allow it. About 35% of
nonsmokers said they avoid restaurants with smoking.
Christopher Hitchens concludes thus:
"If this means what it
appears to mean, then the astonishing conclusion is that grown-up New Yorkers
make decisions...based on their own preferences. Well, what do you know?
Two further conclusions seem permissible: humanity is not divided into
"smokers" and "nonsmokers" except in the personal ads for the love-lorn.
And the United States is not some hellish kibbutz where there's just one
communal dining area, which serves only comfort food.
"If this is the real state
of the case, then Mr. Vallone (1)
can take all of the pseudo-research on "secondhand" smoking and cram it
into his pipe. The person who smells cigarette smoke and wrinkles his nose
before batting the air like a loon is now in the same position as the Peeping
Tom neighbor who climbs precariously atop the fridge, binoculars clutched
in leprous palm, in order to report the vile bedroom antics of the couple
next door. You have to go out of your way to be offended. Never
doubt that there are such people; never give them an inch either if you
value privacy or diversity."
-"We Know Best," Vanity Fair, May 2001; (1)
Then-speaker of the New York City Council
As Mencken (who once defined "Puritanism" as "the terrible, haunting
fear that somebody, somewhere might be having fun") was to Prohibition,
Hitchens is to Anti-Smoking.
Which gets us, full circle, to Prohibition and the Temperance Movement.
They, too, had all the "science." The proof-positive that even the most
temperate drinking could fell strong men; they even actually had a theory
about secondhand booze-- that the exhalations of a drinker could poison
those in his path.
This Movement is equal folly. Equally zealous. Equally insatiable.
Equally wrong. And equally antithetical to the notion of civil liberties.
The First Amendment's right to peaceably assemble. The Fourteenth Amendment's
right to not have one's ordinary privileges "abridged." The right to private
property (from the business owner's perspective) and the plain American
right to be treated equally, not made into a "social outcast" or a Second
Class citizen by the state.
Even blacks, under Jim Crow, were allowed to have a ghetto. But this
Movement is so absolute, it doesn't even allow for ghettos.
Not that long ago, in this very city, another (officially despised)
group was also forbidden to assemble peaceably, even in its own ghettoized
public places. The result of that was The Stonewall Riots. And this
is the same thing.
If there were one place left--let's posit on top of an Alp--that had
a smoker's restaurant with an all-smoking staff... will anyone take the
bet that Mssrs Cherner and Glantz wouldn't attempt to close it down?.
On the grounds of protecting the lichen?
We hope, if nothing else, that we've managed to open your minds to the
notion that there is another side to this story.
We'll be happy to answer questions,
and delighted to talk to you further.
c. Stewart, NYC CLASH, 2002