[FoRK] Re: Why smart people defend bad ideas

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Sun May 29 12:09:28 PDT 2005

Btw, let me head off one complaint preemptively.

>  I'm not defending smoking;  I'm defending the right of anyone to  
> have whatever dumb idea (and engage in whatever dumb behavior) they  
> want, as long as it does not impact others w/o their consent.

Prohibitionists will argue that when they go into a bar, they have  
not consented to being exposed to second hand smoke.

Scrolling back to previous discussions on this list, I have  
previously argued that I am taxed without my consent, and that  
implicit contracts are a bad idea.  This is usually countered with  
the argument that by my choice of places to live I have implicitly  
contracted myself to various taxing authorities.

Well, surely if that's true then, similarly, choosing to go into a  
smoky bar is implicitly contracting away your right to not breathe  
second hand smoke.

Further I'll argue that the bar situation is *more explicit* than the  
tax situation;  for many bars (around these parts, at least) post  
signs on the door giving notice that they are smoking  
establishments.  The patron, when confronted with this notification,  
must make an immediate choice:  enter, or not?  This choice is an  
explicit choice.  Not wanting to own up to the responsibility of  
making such choices is a cop-out.

But I'll go one further.  I'll even advocate --- pragmatically,  
rather than in principle --- banning smoking in all places that are  
not "private clubs."  A private club would be any place that has a  
membership contract;  and a term of such a contract could be an  
explicit waiver of any "right" to not be exposed to second-hand  
smoke.  Any bars, etc. could then choose whether to become private  
clubs for the purpose of allowing smoking.

I doubt that would satisfy the most rabid Prohibitionists, though.   
It's far too laissez faire and free-market.  Doubtless most bars  
would opt for "private club" status, and that wouldn't be  
satisfactory, would it?

That's the other pisser about this whole thing.  Many of the folks  
advocating tirelessly for banning smoking are otherwise free- 
marketeers.  Hypocrites yet again.  If they had the courage of their  
convictions they'd recognize that, indeed, the market has already  
decided this issue, and not in their favor.  Or if the  
Prohibitionists REALLY had the courage of their conviction --- they'd  



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