Sunday, May 08, 2005

Another Freedom Up in Smoke

We had an election yesterday, in Austin, and the draconian smoking ban passed with 52% of the vote (free registration may be required). As I mentioned before, I quit smoking some ten months ago; I haven't cheated once, and I have no doubt that I will not. My smoking days are over, period. For eighteen years that wasn't the case, and for quite a few of those years, I frequented the live music establishments that make Austin unique. Let me let you in a little secret, folks; people that go to bars like to smoke.

Make no mistake about it, this ban is terrible for the 'Live Music Capital of the World'. We were told, in the run-up to this election, about the teaming masses who longed to see live music, but were chased away by the smoke. Yet, every bar that tried having 'smoke-free' nights inevitably cancelled them for lack of attendance. So, the 'progressives' have voted to achieve by governmental fiat what the marketplace would not support, the livelihood of club owners be damned.

And this is a 'progressive' cause, make no mistake. It just doesn't seem right that people should be able to engage in that awful smoking, so let's make it illegal. (Exhaust fumes are harmful, too, and every day we must inhale them - are the days of the automobile numbered?). Look at the communities across the country that have imposed a complete smoking ban; almost all are largely liberal (though, I suppose, the case could be made that most cities are more liberal than their rural counterparts).

If I seem bitter about this, I am. Going to a club and seeing live music is not a right - it is a privilege granted to you by the owner of that club, who has put his money on the line to try to entertain you and make a living. Nothing in the world stops a club owner who wants to ban smoking from doing so in the absence of a ban; now, they have no choice in the matter. All those who supported this measure had better go out, every night, and start spending the dollars, like they assured us they wanted to all along. What a fiasco; it's almost enough to make me want to smoke a cigarette...

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