[FoRK] The Shift

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Fri May 27 14:16:41 PDT 2005

On May 27, 2005, at 3:41 PM, Stephen D. Williams wrote:

>> Not at all.  The cheapest and easiest is merely REQUIRING PEOPLE  
>> that,  now, can we?
> Ok, now we're really getting to an interesting issue.  What if  
> smokers had to immediately pay for the actuarials of their choices  
> rather than foisting their costs on the rest of us?  This is in  
> addition to second-hand smoking injury of course.

Okay, I'm all for smokers paying for their own health costs.  (They  
will, of course, ban together for mutual insurance.  FWIW smoker and  
non-smoker risk derivatives are often internally traded in an  
insurance fund, apparently.)  Given the nebulous nature of "second  
hand smoke damage" and the general pass-the-buck-ness of the second,  
no.  If you don't want to risk second hand smoke, STAY AWAY FROM IT.   
Your problem, not mine.

>>> As well, while there may be other motivations for having a ban  
>>> on  smoking in
>>> public places, it seems to me the medical argument is  
>>> convincing,  and stands
>>> on its own.
>> Well, for the first NO and for the second NO.
> Prove it.  Point to an independent, proper study that Doesn't show  
> correlation with second-hand smoking and ills.

I don't have to prove anything, I'm not the one making the claims.   
Jim says that (a) there are other (presumably compelling and  
justified) motivations for having a ban on smoking in public places  
--- I'm saying I don't believe that there are.  I certainly haven't  
heard any.  As I've expressed, I believe it ultimately boils down to  
NOTHING AT ALL more than aesthetics.  Jim also claims that the  
"medical argument is convincing and stands on its own."  I disagree.   
I'm entitled to do so.  And I have ample reason for doing so:  namely  

Personally I feel that anyone whose standard of proof is so low that  
they can claim with a straight face that smoking CAUSES lung cancer  
with certainty isn't very credible on such issues in the first  
place.  Again, the majority of smokers simply don't develop cancer.   
That simple fact puts a lie to the urban myth.

>>> So, in which part of this logical chain do I have a fallacy?
>> All of it?
> You haven't shown that at all.

Again, the burden of proof is not in my court.  Paraphrasing the old  
saw, extraordinary actions (like totally undermining the liberty and  
the pursuit of happiness of anyone, be they smokers, bar owners, or  
what have you) require extraordinary proof.  Said justification does  
not exist, and those who would claim otherwise are either hypocrites,  
fools, or merely delusional.  Take your pick.  For those on the list  
beating the Prohibition drum, I assume the best:  by virtue of higher  
than average intelligence they're falling into the trap of being  
deluded by their own complex and high-minded rationalizations.   
Better that than liars or fools.

Think of it this way:  assume that "smoking" was a defendant in an  
individual's Murder One trial.  Would it be convicted?  Would a  
reasonable jury find that the burden of proof --- "beyond a  
reasonable doubt" --- had been met?  Of course not.  All the defense  
would have to do is trot out a long line of non-dead smokers.   
Instant acquittal.

Yet we're happy to convict this defendant for other, spurious  
reasons.  We're sending this defendant off to jail for being smelly,  
unpopular, and thuggish --- with pockets far too fat.  Surely a  
criminal, regardless of evidence.  Guilty of SOMETHING.

It's shameful.

And again --- I would have the same feeling about this regardless of  
my own indulgence.  I believe that this issue is a lot like Hustler  
vs. Falwell.  It is important BECAUSE it is so unpopular.  Our  
willingness to tolerate unpopular behavior is a litmus test for the  
health of our Republic and our society.  And it's not looking good.


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