Everyone that's arguing about whether or not secondhand smoke is harmful has completely missed the point Williams was trying to make. How is passing a law that nobody can smoke in your restaurant different from passing a law that nobody can smoke in your house? They're both private property that you own, and nobody but you has any inherent right to be in either. What if New York City passed a law that you were no longer allowed to use trans fats when cooking for yourself? The point is, if we accept that these are the sorts of laws we want our government to create, there's no logical end to the things that we might be forbidden from doing, simply because a government bureaucrat dislikes it or thinks it's bad for you.
Public misunderstanding, ignorance and possibly contempt for liberty play into the hands of people who want to control our lives. Responses to my recent column "Compliant Americans" brought this home to me. In it, I argued that the anti-tobacco movement became the template and inspiration for other forms of government intrusion, such as bans on restaurants serving foie gras, McDonald's giving Happy Meals with toys, and confiscating a child's home-prepared lunch because it didn't meet Department of Agriculture guidelines. A few responses read like this: "Smoking is different because that actually affects other people. We should be living by the notion...
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