Thursday, February 5, 2009

Rights Hidden In Smoke

I read yesterday that legislators across the country are slowing down on or, in some cases, even considering backing off of anti-smoking legislation in so-called "public places" because they fear that, in this time of recession, such bans could put additional stress on the economy. That idea, alone, is telling coming, as it does, from people who have sworn all along that forcing business owners to go non-smoking would not have a negative impact on business, but that isn't, in my opinion, the point. The blatant hypocrisy of politicans playing god with business when "times are good" but backing off and catering to business when "times are bad" is just ... well, business as usual for politicians. It is hardly worth noting.
What is worth noting is that, once again, the average person doesn't have a clue what is actually going on or what is actually at state. I read through the comments section, as I always do when one is available, and the silliness was almost unbearable. A few people understood the real point but, for most of them, it was the usual "my right to smoke anywhere I please" versus "my right to not breathe your smoke". I'm a smoker and I'll be the first to admit that I do not have a right to smoke anywhere I please. For you non-smokers, you do not have an inherant right to not breathe my smoke.
It is really quite simple. I smoke. If you come over to my house, you will put up with my smoke. Don't like it? Don't come over. That is your only option. You have no right to dictate terms in my house because it is my house. By the same token, if I come over to your house and you do not allow smoking then I cannot smoke at your house. If that is unbearable to me then I will not come over to your house. I do not get to dictate terms in your house because it is your house. Neither of us has an absolute right in regards to smoking but we both have an absolute right in regards to our property. There can be no conflict because my right over my property has nothing to do with your right over your property or vice versa. There can also be no compromise. I do not surrender my rights to you just because you enter my property. If you enter my home and start demanding your rights, I will point you to the sidewalk and tell you where you can find your rights. Over the years, many people have learned the hard way that I am not kidding about this in the least.
If what I am doing is not otherwise criminal, you get no say in the matter so long as I am doing it on my property. I cannot murder you just because you entered my property but I cannot legally do that anywhere. Smoking is not illegal so the only person who gets to rule on that on my property is me.
Why have we forgotten this simple fact as it relates to business? The fact that I allow multiple people to enter my property for a fee does not stop it from being my property. You don't get to determine what I sell, who I hire, or what uniform my employees wear. Why should you get to be in charge of anything else?
Non-smokers claim that they have a right to go out to eat without putting up with people smoking but that is an absolutely false claim. There is no such right! You don't even have a right to go out to eat, let alone a right to go out to eat in an environment of your demanding. A right to go out to eat implies that someone is obligated to provide you with a location where you can go out to eat. Ask a person who does not live within traveling distance of any kind of eating establishment whether or not they have a right to go out to eat. They'll laugh in your face and probably tell you to get your whiney self off of their property.
If you want a right to go out to eat then you need to get to work building your restaurant because that is the only way you will have such a right. If you want a right to go out to eat without putting up with people smoking then you need to hang a "NO SMOKING" sign on the front door after you build that restaurant. If you own it then you have the right to make it smoke-free. You also have the right to allow smoking. Just because this country has forgotten what property rights mean does not mean that property rights themselves have changed. They cannot change because they are immutable. If you own it, it is yours to do with as you please, such right stopping only when it conflicts with someone else's right. Any law that says otherwise is a violation of natural rights and should be treated as such.
There is no conflict between the rights of the smokers versus the rights of the non-smokers because such rights, as they have been expressed, do not exist. You do not have a right to either smoke or to not be around smoke. What you do have is a right to own what is your and to act as though you own it. That includes your body, your house, and your business. The sooner we realize this fact the sooner we can reduce the number of useless nonsense arguments and maybe - just maybe - we can get on to arguing about stuff that actually matters.

1 comment:

  1. Let's have a smoke...shall we?