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View Full Version : Right On Christopher Hitchens!!!


alanm
06-23-2005, 12:20 AM
http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=8343

I thought this was a great article. I wish there were more common sense people in Washington than him. :clap:

The Nation's Pulse
Smoking Room
By David Holman
Published 6/23/2005 12:06:14 AM

Recently dining at a Dupont Circle establishment, Christopher Hitchens noticed there weren't ashtrays at the bar. When he asked for a smoking area, he learned the restaurant is a "non-smoking facility." Hitchens has seen the cold, inhospitable future of dining in smoke-free D.C. bars and restaurants and he won't accept it. "I don't go to dinner at facilities," he says.

Hitchens, the accomplished British writer, told the D.C. Council last week that its proposed smoking ban is "un-American." The Washington Post reported this characterization without explanation. Yet one of Washington's most colorful and prolific journalists, who is applying for American citizenship, troubled himself with the tedium of a D.C. Council hearing to object to a smoking ban in the capital city's bars and restaurants. What would Hitchens find un-American about such a ban? Its denial of tobacco's role in our nation's founding and general ignorance of history? Its destruction of the third place? Its affront to liberty?

The ban is un-American for all these reasons, Hitchens explained in an interview with TAS Tuesday. Settings such as the Apollo Room in Williamsburg's Raleigh Tavern were crucial to civilized life and the plotting of the American Revolution, Hitchens says. "The availability of intoxicating liquors and various forms of tobacco is in some way essential here. The existence of the bohemian has always been important to the righted life. You went there for an unrestricted atmosphere."

Smoking bans would have stilted the development of some of America's cultural treasures as well, he argues. "If you want to go hear jazz in New Orleans there will be no smoke in the blues room. Without smoking and drinking there would be no ----ing jazz."

Yet smoking's historical role isn't the lynchpin of Hitchen's opposition to the bans. He grants claims that second-hand smoke is hazardous to others' health, even though "the academiology of it as a problem isn't all that stellar." Airplanes and railcars aren't polite places for smoking either -- people who don't like smoke "shouldn't have to breathe my air," he says.

Even if the science were impeccable, smoking bans undermine the personal liberty of both patron and proprietor. "The attempt to have a one size fits all program for all drinking and eating establishments is un-American in the way that someone who owns a bar cannot hang out a shingle saying, 'This is Murphy's Pub. If you don't like smoke, stay out,'" he says. "It's saying we know better than you. It's not up to you or your customers."

Proponents say the ban is necessary to protect workers. Hitchens isn't buying that argument: "Nobody can be compelled to take a job in a restaurant that allows smoking. I'm not an uncritical fan of market forces, but I'm sure they're good enough to sort this out without any help. The idea that there's a worker whose only skill is being a barman or a waiter who can only find a job in a place where he has to inhale others' smoke... I don't believe in the existence of this person. And if he does exist, he shouldn't be able to change my behavior."

At the council meeting, Hitchens pressed Jim Graham, a proponent of the ban and 1st Ward Councilman, to produce such a person. Graham declined. Such a person's existence is "just as likely that a devout Christian would come and complain that he could only find a job in a strip joint," he told the council. Noting that strip clubs are exempted from the smoking ban, Hitchens said to TAS, "I don't know why these blue noses and puritans are trying to drive me into a life of debauchery."

In reducing bars and restaurants to mere workplaces, "a very paltry definition of a place of reflection and entertainment," Hitchens argues that the D.C. Council rejects the most basic tenets of hospitality. He asked the council, "Is it not beyond the wit of this great city, this great country, this great culture, to find a place where people like myself can meet people to whom hospitality means, 'This is my house but when you're here this is your house and you can do as you please'? And that's why we call it a hospitality industry in the first place."

Hitchens is only asking for separation between smokers and non-smokers. Since the council won't accept even the most accommodating compromise and allow some highly regulated smoking establishments, it's "using taxpayers' money to try and change our behavior." The ban proponents' position is "not logical or moral in its force....It wouldn't pass muster in a sophomoric class on formal logic."

This former man of the left is a bit puzzled to find himself opposing left-wing prohibitionists. Reasoning by the standard of "diversity," "which I think you could be sure would be a celebrated word on the D.C. Council," the smoking ban ought not to pass.

Though conservatives have historically favored some prohibitions, Hitchens concedes that "the current version of prohibitionism is a left one. It's phrased in what you'd have to describe as a liberal voice, but it has a fundamentally illiberal conclusion. And it believes everywhere should be a freakin' cheerful Disneyland. I don't want to live in a freakin' cheerful Disneyland. I want to live in a world with fearful anxiety and with all the things to combat it."


David Holman is The American Spectator's editorial assistant.

alanm
06-23-2005, 12:23 AM
I didn't know if this was DC worthy or not since we've discussed smoking on the main board a time or 100. :)

Saggysack
06-23-2005, 12:24 AM
damn liberal media....

alanm
06-23-2005, 12:27 AM
damn liberal media....
By a strange coinkydink I haven't seen this story anywhere before I was scanning the headines at the Spectator. You'd of think a story like this involving Hitchens would have made a blurb somewhere? :hmmm:

Saggysack
06-23-2005, 12:31 AM
By a strange coinkydink I haven't seen this story anywhere before I was scanning the headines at the Spectator. You'd of think a story like this involving Hitchens would have made a blurb somewhere? :hmmm:

How many David Holman articles have ever hit the mainstream media?

ENDelt260
06-23-2005, 02:51 AM
The idea that there's a worker whose only skill is being a barman or a waiter who can only find a job in a place where he has to inhale others' smoke... I don't believe in the existence of this person. And if he does exist, he shouldn't be able to change my behavior.

Amen.

mikey23545
06-23-2005, 05:10 AM
I didn't realize the monkey on someone's back could be so eloquent....

Chris Meck
06-23-2005, 01:08 PM
I'm a musician; I play in bars all over the country. This smoking ban thing really affects my livelihood, believe it or not.

Look, lots of people smoke; and more to my point, lots of people that get involved in independent live music tend to be smokers. Add to that the large number of people who 'only smoke when I drink', and you've got a big slice of bar patrons. What is happening is this: in towns where they've enacted the smoking ban, business is way, WAY down. Which means way less people to play for, which means way less people buying drinks, which means way less pay for the band.

Instead, people are staying home, or having little house parties or whatever and NOT going to check out some music. It's a fact.

Lawrence used to be a hotbed for live music in the midwest; now it's just dead. The nail in the coffin was the smoking ban.

Chris

HC_Chief
06-23-2005, 01:12 PM
Lawrence used to be a hotbed for live music in the midwest; now it's just dead. The nail in the coffin was the smoking ban.

Chris

What?! Is the Larryville scene really dead? And when was a smoking ban established?! The Jazz House? Bottleneck? (my place of choice to see shows was The Outhouse - but that was <i>years</i> ago) The Granada? Liberty? All dead?!

I'm telling you, getting married & having kids wrecks your social life.

Saulbadguy
06-23-2005, 01:19 PM
Lets places decide whether or not they want to cater to smokers.

NewChief
06-23-2005, 01:47 PM
.

Lawrence used to be a hotbed for live music in the midwest; now it's just dead. The nail in the coffin was the smoking ban.

Chris

Meck,

While I agree that smoking bans tend to be keeping people at home and out of clubs, I think that there's a more widespread phenom going on with live music. Fayetteville also used to have an amazing live music scene. Now it's dead with some of our best music venues becoming nothing more than cookie cutter cocktail bars. We also have a smoking ban, but it's only in establishments where so much of profits comes from food, so clubs aren't really affected that heavily.

Anyway, it seems to me that live music scenes in general are suffering. Love or hate the jamband scene, it was a boon to musicians. Up until a few years ago, people were really, really into live music in college towns. They'd go out and see bands several nights a week. The college scene thrived on live music. Music festivals abounded (and still do to an extent, though they've become more and more eclectic to reach a wider audience). Now it seems that the college scene thrives on drinking cocktails and looking good.

By the way, I downloaded the Gaslights stuff from the website. I like!
:clap:

tyton75
06-23-2005, 01:59 PM
I think this is just another example of the ongoing trend that "the government knows better how to take care of you than you do".. . I don't need the gov't telling me some of the things I do are bad for me... thats why I do them!

Edubs
06-23-2005, 02:01 PM
I'm a musician; I play in bars all over the country. This smoking ban thing really affects my livelihood, believe it or not.

Look, lots of people smoke; and more to my point, lots of people that get involved in independent live music tend to be smokers. Add to that the large number of people who 'only smoke when I drink', and you've got a big slice of bar patrons. What is happening is this: in towns where they've enacted the smoking ban, business is way, WAY down. Which means way less people to play for, which means way less people buying drinks, which means way less pay for the band.

Instead, people are staying home, or having little house parties or whatever and NOT going to check out some music. It's a fact.

Lawrence used to be a hotbed for live music in the midwest; now it's just dead. The nail in the coffin was the smoking ban.

Chris



I think this may be the dumbest post I've read in awhile. I am sorry you lazy ass smokers have to go outside and smoke. I am sick and tired of smelling like your stinky ass does all the time when I leave a bar. $hit stinks, it's unhealthy, and I hope it get's banned at all bars in KS/MO.

Maybe your music just sucks......or it's played out.....

Edubs
06-23-2005, 02:03 PM
I think if your band added more cowbell.......they would come!

RaiderH8r
06-23-2005, 02:16 PM
Chewing tobaccy...now there's an answer.

FringeNC
06-23-2005, 02:46 PM
I don't understand who supports these smoking bans. I don't smoke, nor do most of my friends, but I know no one who supports these things. Are there really that many nanny-state / do-gooder liberals? It's probably an alliance of the liberals with the fundamentalist Christians who are essentially prohibitionists, and anything that hurts bars is fine by them.

No rational person supports these assinine laws.

tyton75
06-23-2005, 02:49 PM
someone must.. they aren't just materializing out of the ether

KC Kings
06-23-2005, 03:13 PM
Send this guy back over to England. The smoking ban is important, and here top stay. When I go to a bar I don't mind seeing people geting so piss drunk that they are going to puke on themselves. I don't mind seeing 300 pound women so hammered that they shake their ass around like they are Jessica Simpson. I don't care if a few guys can't handle their liquor and get in a fight for no reason. But I will not stand having to smell smoke or inhale the smoke of those around me. Alcohol poisening, fat women, drunk driving, and violent drunks are a little dangerous, but nothing compared to the dangers of second hand smoke.

KC Kings
06-23-2005, 03:16 PM
I think if your band added more cowbell.......they would come!

I got a fevah! And the only prescription, is more cowbell.