A father was busy reading his paper one day when his young child came and climbed into his lap. "Daddy," said the son, "why is Tommy so bossy? He always tells me what to do. I was riding my bicycle by myself and he took it away from me and made me play games instead. I tried to take my bike back but he is too much older and bigger than me and I wasn't strong enough. What makes people want to make other people do what they want instead of letting other people do what they want to do? I was having fun. I wasn't bothering anybody, why wouldn't he just leave me alone."
The father thought for a minute. This was a remarkably profound question from one so young. "Son, he said, the world is full of people who will not mind their own business. They have a sick need to control others. Sometimes they think they are doing good things, and sometimes they might be. But most of the time it is simply about power and control."
"They make themselves feel better by forcing others to do their will. They have been called lots of things down through history," Daddy continued. They have been called Chiefs, they have been called Kings, they have been called emperors. They have been known as conquerors, tyrants, bullies, masters, fascists, communists and many other names. But they and the outcome are the same. Take away people's freedom. Make people do or not do things they don't choose to do whether they want to or not. The folks these people control are quite simply slaves."
"Do I have to be a slave? Do we have to live our lives the way stronger people want us to? Do we have no choices," asked the Son.
"Yes" answered the father. "Unless we are wise enough to band together to protect each other from those who are stronger and value the freedoms of each other much as our own.”
"Even if they do stuff that's not good for them," the little boy queried his father. "Especially then. Being forced to do something for our 'own good' is one of tools that tyrants use to make believe what they're doing is right, moral and proper."
"What do you mean,” the little boy asked.
“Well, I mean you have to be willing to defend the right of someone to smoke for instance if he chooses to. I told you smoking is not a smart thing to do. I've told you it will damage your health and could take your life," the father continued.
"But, when you're old enough, if you choose to smoke, that's your business and your business alone. I have to be willing to let you do it anywhere you want as long as it doesn't interfere with another person's ability to use what belongs to him how he sees fit."
"It’s not right for someone who smokes to light up in a crowded elevator where everyone must remain for some time and can't get away. We all have to use elevators. But it's not right to demand that someone not be allowed to smoke in a private restaurant or any other private property. If we object, we can simply choose not to go in those places. You have to be willing to defend a person's right to allow an activity that does not interfere with anyone else's enjoyment in their own place, even if that activity is not wise. If you insist on imposing your will on someone's private property, then you are no better than a tyrant, an emperor, a conqueror, a bully, a fascist or communist. The rest of us are no better than slaves," the father explained.
I have been asked to sign a petition in favor of "Smoke Free Mesquite." As a doctor it would seem a no-brainer that I would sign that petition. I haven't and I vehemently refuse to for the reasons listed above. All too often good intentions hide another agenda.
Why Mesquite and why now? Who is the Lung Association anyway? Hopefully, we are now all familiar with charities that spend almost all their money on collection costs and administrative salaries. I researched the Lung Association. The Better Business Bureau rates them as someone you should give money to.
I'm a bit confused though because the same report lists $55 million as their gross receipts and less than 2 million as coming from individuals etc. It doesn't make sense to me but you can look it up for yourself on the Better Business Bureau site. (If you understand it better than I do, please enlighten me.)
One thing is for sure, the fine print on those glossy, expensive mailers we've been receiving lists them as being at least partially paid for by Health and Human Services. Last time I looked, that is a tax based agency of the United States government. In other words, my tax dollars are being used by my government to propagandize my fellow citizens on a political issue. And to endanger my fellow citizen’s private property rights.
I would object just as strenuously if the Department of Defense was spending tax dollars on glossy mailers that insist everyone own a gun even though studies show a well-armed population has less crime. I happen to favor the right to “keep and bear arms” but people are entitled to believe going unarmed is safer than being prepared for dangerous situations if they choose to.
Professionally and personally, I will be happy to discuss the dangers of smoking with anyone who wants me to. I am against it. However, I will not tolerate my tax dollars being spent on propaganda even if it is for our "own good."
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and mind your own business. Less than 20 words that almost say it all.
Leo Black Jr.
[Editor's note: The Mesquite Citizen Journal is currently running a reader's poll regarding the smoking issue in Mesquite. If you haven't already, cast your vote in the unscientific poll in the left navigation column of the MCJ.]