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Friday, July 27, 2007

Smoking Ban vs Gay Marriage

Before I even get off into my usual slur of bad analogies, half-baked jokes and other things that prevent me from forming a coherent verbal (but not written) sentence before 8am - I have no idea what I'm talking about. You hear that? My opinions on these subjects really don't matter because neither of them really affect me directly. Just like men and abortion rights, we can have an opinion, but we'll be seen as wrong just for having one since it's not our issue and it apparently never will be. Now that this is out of the way, I'll say my peace.

Hopefully at least SOME of you read my last piece, about the new Illinois smoking ban that still allows people to smoke, just nowhere where they'd LIKE to smoke. Like in places where there's shelter from the environment other than their own home. What was GOING to follow was a piece about the new cigarette taxes coming into legislation.

I can't begin to think of a better analog for "adding insult to injury."

Instead, certain reader responses in the RedEye this morning just got me BACK onto this original rant, and I felt I had to add more on because people STILL just don't get it: there should NOT be laws being created to ostracize people just based on the theory that secondhand smoke is really that dangerous. Again, I haven't seen any scientific proof. And even if there were test subjects in controlled environments who got cancer from extreme doses of secondhand smoke, I highly doubt that those experiments would reflect the REAL world, where secondhand smoke isn't that concentrated (even indoors) and the hundreds or thousands of other factors that determine when a person gets which cancer.

But no! The liberals (who, might I remind you, are taking away liberties rather than protecting them) are trying to argue that they can tell you where you can't smoke because they're afraid of dying from secondhand smoke. Fine. If you want to make the argument that a hypothetical scary result that hasn't been factually proven yet can be stopped by one of the things that might trigger it in limited circumstances (a long way of saying "you MIGHT get cancer from POSSIBLY secondhand smoke IF this all happened INDOORS and you ignore everyone OUTDOORS")...

...then I say that you have to also agree with the arguments to ban gay marriage.

That's right, I went there. I went there, took some photos, bought a T-shirt, came back, and showed you boring slideshows of it all. Smoking ban? Gay marriage ban. But why, Aaron? Why would you equate something as silly as not being able to smoke indoors with the lifelong struggle of the gay community to commit to each other for life in a federally-recognized ceremony?

Because it's the same argument being made against gay marriage that was made against smoking indoors: something that could potentially harm in a non-proven way if conditions were met. I'm taking about the "gay marriage destroys families" argument here.

I'm arguing that there's an equal percentage of people trying to prove that this seemingly-unlikely event is what triggered their horrible problem. Trying to pin secondhand smoke as the culprit for lung cancer in non-smokers is just as improbable as pinning gay marriage as the culprit for the lack of value of the sacrament of marriage itself.

After all, while being gay is NOT a choice that can be turned on or off, deciding to couple and deciding to want to get married is TOTALLY a choice. You can be gay and do whatever you want to other gay people for as long as you'd like - but when you make the choice to invade the institution of marriage, that apparently affects OTHER people in the bond of marriage and some see it as possibly destructive.

Likewise, while nicotine addiction is not as much of a choice (at serious levels of addiction), it is TOTALLY a choice to start smoking. And you can smoke whatever kinds of cigars and cigarettes you want for as long as you'd like - but when you make the choice to invade the air space of other people indoors, that apparently affects OTHER people in the room and some see it as possibly destructive to their health.

Can you agree on the similarities in the arguments?? One is just as ridiculous as the other! And yet the insane one about SMOKING is easily thrown together as actual legislation by the liberals, while the insane one about GAY MARRIAGE is a rallying point liberals AGAINST the same argument!

Sorry, liberals, but you can't have it both ways. One fauly argument becoming law should equate to more laws backed by the same argument - whether it's something you believe in or not. Smokers believe they have the right to smoke. You argue it threatens the health of others and besides, "smoking is bad for you anyway so maybe this'll help people to quit." Gays believe they have the right to get married. Others argue it threatens the sanctity of marriage and besides, "being gay is morally wrong anyway so maybe this'll help people to get right with God."

Are you starting to see how absurd it all is?

You don't have the right to quash someone's liberties because you're afraid people could get hurt and die. If that were the case all around for everything, people shouldn't be allowed to play sports because there's a high risk of steroid use, and people shouldn't be allowed to drive cars because they can't be trusted to not crash and kill people, and farmers shouldn't be allowed to grow peanuts anymore because so many people are allergic to them and they kill so many people.

You have the right to defend yourself from imminent danger.

You don't have the right to legislate a ban on anything that could potentially be dangerous.

Because people have the right to do dangerous things - to themselves especially, and potentially to others. You can drink alcohol. You can own a gun. You can drive a car. You can bungee jump and parasail and skydive. You can also smoke a cigarette.

And if people are going to take away that liberty for such a stupid reason, I'm just saying that the things THEY believe they have the liberty to do should be taken away just as easily.

And please don't try to turn this into me being a homophobe or against gay marriage. I have several gay friends and I'm not against gay marriage. If you read this piece properly, you'd see that I'm trying to NOT ban gay marriage by trying to get this smoking ban lifted due to the ridiculous reasoning that brought it into existance. It just usually gets a hot-button topic to get people to actually notice the NOT-hot-button topics.


Bridget said...

Really, you haven't seen any research? Try googling 'secondhand smoke clinical research' and click on the first two hits (of 591,000).

The analogy between banning secondhand smoke and banning gay marriage doesn't work. In one case we're talking about SCIENCE: quantitative data, carcinogen levels, risk factors--and in the other case we're talking about RELIGION: someone's god doesn't like it. Both are paternalistic laws, but there are plenty of distinctions to be made among that group.

AaronBSam said...

While I completely agree that the difference between science and religion is one that never equates well, I'm trying to focus on the "we know what's best for you" and "ged rid of anything that could potentially pose a threat to me" mentalities.

I was stretching the "risk factor" to prove a point: we can't just ban anything other people do just because it potentially risks our happiness/safety.

Gay marriage was the extreme. Car driving and drinking alcohol are more along the scientific lines, so I offered them on the table as well.

And while I've seen actual research about certain chemicals like carcinogens that CAN cause cancer, so do apparently hundreds of OTHER things that scientists throw in our faces every day. While you can try to blame cancer on the secondhand smoke, and probably be right, you can't prove it was ONLY secondhand smoke and not the other hundreds of things partially or wholly to blame.

Brandee said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...