Smoking and Other Infamies: Part II


Often people make the argument for government interference concerning activities such as smoking because the word addiction comes into play and because the question of harming other people’s health is raised due to second hand smoke. Now, as for addiction, I was not transformed into the fiendish smoker that I am from the chemically addicting properties of cigarettes. Are they addictive? Hell yea! But here’s a fact about addiction, every second of every day that I “languish” under the yoke of cigarette addiction is my personal choice. This is where that wacky thing called free will comes in.

There is no addiction on this Earth that the spirit of human will has not been able to conquer. People quit smoking –and shooting heroin for that matter– every day. In our culture we have seen with the emergence of Neuroscience a growing question as to whether people are nothing more than electro-chemical wind up dolls, who when biologically predisposed to a behavior will get ensnared in said behavior upon contact. Who am I to argue with science, but I know that fat kids love cake because it tastes good regardless of the genetic composition of the fat kid or the cake. I also know that inside of every little pudgy child on this planet there is a will that with time may be cultivated. The power of this mind can refrain and even change behavior.

But whether being fat or being thin is a desirable state is up to each individual mind to decide, and from that conclusion each individual mind will pursue either the happiness to be gained from the achievement of mastering the body or the happiness to be gained from indulging the body. No matter what social censure may come from any one decision, the individual continually makes these choices, and the mind working as the tyrant of the body can either rule with an iron fist or say “fuck it” and give in to that Big Mac Attack.

Of course, from watching television the other day I was informed that apparently the streets of our nation are soon to be choked with the corpses of the obese.  On the television program I saw a thin man in a nice suite deliver a proclamation of doom. He said that the obesity “epidemic” has finally hit such a horrendous proportion that for the first time in history more people will die of over eating than of hunger. I don’t know about you, but personally I was jumping for joy once I heard that. Let me see, would I rather die trying to eat my way out of a vat of Chunky Monkey or sitting in a desert attempting to glean nourishment from sucking on rocks? This is like asking a teenaged boy whether he would rather die of a terminal case of ruptured blue balls or die by the crush of a horde of beautiful nymphomaniacs. Granted, to not die at all would be the better proposition, but until scientists devise some creepy way to transplant our brains into robot bodies it looks like death is the final stop no matter how healthy a lifestyle is chosen. We have no say in this, but what we do have a say in is the way we get to the grave. Whether by ascetic rigor or by hedonist indulgence, the thoughts, actions and philosophies that guide us through our lives are our own, chosen by us, lived by us. To concede to the notion that any sort of legislation concerning personal habits is good has to be based on the idea that the people who conceive the law know what is universally good for all. The last time I checked the human race is still at odds concerning what is good in life.

The idea of health may have an enormous amount of appeal to you, but every mind in our world is its own world, where what is desirable and what is undesirable vary. This is why shit eating videos exist. Who wants to watch people eat steaming logs? I don’t know, but apparently somebody does or half the damn Internet wouldn’t consist of perversion-porn-pop-ups. But you know, however consenting adults pursue their own happiness is their own business. Of course, here is where the Nanny State tends to pop in. “But what if the children see these videos and confuse the toilet for the dinner table?” Of course, the busy bodies of the world would protect their children far more by monitoring the activities of their own children rather than the interests of their neighbors, but as history has taught us “the best defense is a good offence” and it’s also the best bullshit slogan to throw around when you want to start an unjustifiable war. Just as the drug user must be locked up because certainly their drug use will lead to crimes, we must see into the future to predict all possibilities of catastrophe. Imagine a world littered with dead and decayed fat people rotting on every corner because the landfills were full from unrecycled plastic bottles, or a smoke hazed wasteland where the few remaining children –who didn’t perish from the imitation of sheiza videos– cry out, “momma, the second hand smoke momma…I’m dieing momma…why didn’t you stop them?” Oh God, how can we bear to let this happen! Well, that is if it’ll happen at all. But what has happened is a belief that our neighbors will always do the wrong thing. We’re being taught to fear one another. Finally when the streets are full of faces we no longer trust, to whom will we turn other than to Big Brother?

As a smoker I try to respect the wishes of those around me who do not smoke if they find the odor harsh or unpleasant, and I know I am not alone in this. I have heard it debated whether second hand smoke is even harmful. I am going to go out on a limb, forget the debate, and even say that, yes it is. With that being said, the question at hand is still not one of health but one of choice. When the barroom smoking ban in Maryland went into effect the choice was taken from us. Instead of letting the market work itself out — which it was since several smoke-free bars were already popping up– the State stepped in, in the name of protecting its citizens from each other. Did we really need that protection? No one was being forced to patronize the bars where people smoked. I know lots of people liked the ban because then they could go out to places they liked without spending the evening in a haze of smoke, but before the ban was put into effect they still had the choice as to whether they would patronize bars that had smoking. After the ban the choice of the bar owners to run their establishments as they saw fit was taken from them. This was done in the name of public health even though all persons involved were exposing themselves to cigarette smoke by choice. Some like to point out that many of the people that worked in those environments didn’t like the smoke. To this I would say that there are a lot of things about capitalism that I hate, but the one aspect of it that I adore is that you can always quit your job. We are not slaves. Evaluating whether the risk is worth the pay is up to the individual to decide. The individual will reap the benefits and suffer the consequences. I know career hopping is no easy thing, but gaining back rights once they’ve been taken away is even harder.

Right now at the college I am attending, a smoking ban is about to go into effect since it is a State school. The funny thing is that since announcing that the policy was going to go into effect the school has hosted several forums and accepted e-mails concerning the subject. What’s funny about this is the fact that they asked the students whether they liked it after they had already told the students that it was going into effect: ah nothing beats fake democracy. Anyway, the thing that makes me cringe about this–besides the fact that I’m going to have to get creative about where I smoke to beat the $75 fine– is not that these young adults are going to have to refrain from smoking while on campus — unless they get creative as well– but that this was a mandate from the State. Now granted, it is the choice of the students to still attend this college. I’ve got one semester to go so I’ve decided to sweat it out rather than go through the hassle of finding another academic nest. Still, this is a state college. This implies it is owned by the people for the people. When the fuck were “the people” asked about this? Surely there is nothing better for a young person striking out on their own for the first time than to be told how to live by the State. How did we get used to this? How did the word health become the justification for telling people what to do? Of course, I can find a lot of blame to throw around but for this one I think I might need to turn inward. As of right now I don’t even know who these assholes are that are making these policies. This is on me. I need to become more aware of the local oligarchs and the positions that these many tyrants hold because even on the local level Lady Liberty is getting the shit beat out of her, and if I’m given the option to vote these bastards out but I don’t because I don’t even know who they are, well then, what can I say? I want the ones I love to have the option to find their happiness wherever it may be, and these days my vote for any liberty minded candidates is the best way to make this happen. We can bitch and moan all we want, but in the end, it’s in our hands.

About Author

Mark Leake is the writer of the independent films Isle of the Damned and Pleasures of the Damned. He is a former member of the bands Animatronics and The Federalists, as well as a current member of the band AV Anxiety. He is also a student and a guy who thinks it is time for a political change.