Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Profiles in Freedom(TM): The Freedom to Kill Others With Secondhand Smoke

A statewide smoking ban in Minnesota is a dangerous constitutional precedent. If the new regime wants the ban to pass, it very likely will pass. But we should at least call it what it is as we plummet further into the nanny-state formerly known as Minnesota. [. . .] The first law on the DFL legislative agenda is a statewide smoking ban. The real issue is much larger. The real issue is how far we are willing to let government rules erode our freedom.
-Tom Emmer, Letter to the Editor, St. Cloud Times, 12/26/06

(Image from banthebanminnesota.com)

The passage of the Freedom to Breathe Act, which banned smoking in bars and restaurants statewide, is yet another example of an oppressive anti-Freedom(TM) policy that Stonewall Emmer opposes. It's worth examining in some detail, since at the time it was debated in 2006-2007, a number of dire predictions about the creeping fascism that would result were bandied about the Capitol. Many of these predictions came from the mouths of Stonewall and his campaign manager, Rep. Buesgens. Lucky for all of us, the "regulatory engineers" haven't subsequently turned their sights on restricting speech, religious expression, using genetics to dictate who can reproduce, or telling farmers what they must plant - all predictions that Emmer made in that op-ed. This is the problem with slippery slope fallacies - the act that begins the slide does not lead to the "hellish" end result, and the specter of the "hell" at the end of the slope is nothing more than an appeal to fear. Like restrictions on teen drivers and mandatory seat belt laws, banning smoking in public places is sound public health policy, now the law of the land in 26 states.

I think that illustrating the cost of the Freedom(TM) that Stonewall Tom would bring us if elected is important. I've had enough with the bumper sticker slogans about freedom and individual responsibility from his campaign - when the rubber hits the road, Emmer is willing to let the practice of Freedom(TM) by "sovereign individuals" kill and injure innocent bystanders. The problem with libertarian thought generally, and Tom Emmer's thought process specifically, is that the collateral damage from the practice of Freedom(TM) is none of their concern. The Freedom(TM) to smoke at a bar or restaurant runs up against the right of workers to work in a safe environment where they are not exposed to second-hand smoke. But what do these workers know? They must hate Freedom(TM)!

It's absolutely crucial to put Tom Emmer's crusade for Freedom(TM) in specific contexts, to be able to explain concisely that the choice is not between Freedom(TM) and totalitarianism, but rather between whateverthehelliwannado and reasonable community standards. His opposition to the Freedom to Breathe Act provides a vehicle to do exactly that. And the bonus is that the smoking ban is enormously popular, and most popular among Republicans.

September 2008 poll conducted by Decision Resources Ltd. for Clearway Minnesota

So, go on, ask Stonewall Emmer if he plans on repealing the smoking ban if he's elected! After all, he's received the full-throated endorsement of "Ban the Ban Minnesota," an organization devoted to overturning the Freedom to Breathe Act. Emmer's described as "one of our greatest supporters" and ban opponents feel they have a "good shot" to elect a "
governor who will fight to remove or alter the destructive smoking ban from Minnesota's lawbooks."

It's not news that Tom Emmer opposed the smoking ban, and the endorsement from Ban the Ban Minnesota was made in February. The key here is developing clear examples of exactly what Freedom(TM) means for Tom Emmer.

For Tom Emmer, Freedom(TM) means the freedom to kill and injure others with secondhand smoke.

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