You know what really grinds my gears?

Besides people who quote Fox cartoon shows all the time?

People who drive Hummers.  And the smoking ban in Denver.  And the way I seem to be the only one who realizes that living in a society in which driving a Hummer is okay but smoking a cigarette is not is insane.  Let me explain.

Second hand smoke is bad for you.  If you are exposed to it, you could one day get cancer and die.  So we made it illegal to do it any place public.  Never mind what an individual business owner wants to do in his own establishment.  Never mind the consumer’s responsibility to choose the type of establishment they want to go into.  None of that is the point in our supposedly free country, I suppose.  Second hand smoke might kill you one day.

Hummer exhaust is also bad for you.  In fact, I submit that it is far worse for you than cigarette smoke.  If you get locked in a garage with someone smoking a cigarette, it would be unpleasant, yes, and one day you might get cancer from the exposure.  But if you get locked in a garage with a running Hummer it will kill you in a matter of hours (assuming a Hummer would not run out of gas before being able to asphyxiate someone, that is).  Maybe minutes.  I don’t know, I’ve never committed suicide with car exhaust fumes, but I do know that it is a popular means of suicide, where second hand smoke is not. 

I have been locked in rooms with many a smoker many, many times, and I have yet to die from the second hand smoke exposure.  I know if I were breathing Hummer exhaust for an hour I would die, but I actually smoked for ten years, at times as much as a pack and a half a day, and I didn’t die from that.  How is something that won’t kill you after ten years of constant exposure (24 years, if you count my exposure to second hand smoke in there, since both my parents and most of my friends are/were until recently smokers) worse for you than something that will kill you in an hour?

My point is, why do we get so bent out of shape about breathing in a substance that might give us cancer in a few decades, when we don’t bat an eye about breathing in a substance that has been known to kill people within an hour?  Its okay to pump one toxin into the air around us, but not another?  Why?  Who chooses which deadly fumes are socially acceptable?

The biggest problem for me is that before there was a smokers ban, every consumer could make a choice about whether or not they wanted to visit a smoking establishment, but I have no choice about whether or not I want to live on, walk down or drive on a road on which Hummers drive.  Hummers have a right to be everywhere, and I have no means of avoiding them.  There are no privately owned roads which the owners can designate as “Hummer Free”, and I can choose to be a patron of those roads rather than others.  But there were plenty of non smoking establishments which non smokers could choose to frequent, and they could boycott smoking establishments if they so chose.

Now, I’m not saying that smoking is good and we therefore should repeal the smoking ban, nor am I saying that we should ban Hummers (though I wouldn’t complain one bit if we did).  I’m just saying that I don’t understand how, in what’s supposed to be a free market, we can justify putting restrictions on how a privately owned business operates but we don’t do it for public spaces which we all are forced to share. 


Oh, and by the way, people who quote Fox cartoon shows don’t really grind my gears.  I’ve been quoting the Simpsons since Bart and Lisa were older than me!


About Rockingthehomestead

Badass feminist environmentalist.
This entry was posted in Community, Health and Diet, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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