Over the last few months in New York there has been much consternation over new anti-smoking proposals by Mayor Mike Bloomberg. The good mayor has endeavored to make smoking illegal in all public places, including restaurants and, those last bastions of carcinogenic filth, bars.
The resulting din of whining degenerates has been no surprise. From every corner of our decaying culture we hear the fallacious arguments of nicotine-addicted ghouls desperate to maintain access to their hourly fix.
• "But cigarettes are legal! You can't tell citizens how and when to use a legal product!": Oh, we can't? Our country regulates the usage of all kinds of things. Alcohol can't be sold to anyone under 21. It can't be consumed in an automobile. It can't be sold without a license. Valium is only available with a prescription from a doctor. Cars can only be operated after the driver has passed a rigorous test. We have a responsibility as citizens to decide when certain products or actions are appropriate and when they are not. And the spewing of foul-smelling smoke into the lungs and onto the clothes of innocents is a practice that is unacceptable (both socially and legally) to a couth culture.
• "But what about the economy? People will lose their livelihood!": The argument that banning cigarettes in bars will cause bars to close is false. In California, where a similar ban was passed several years ago, patronage of bars is up since the passing of the new law. Secondly, even if it were true, what kind of moral cowardice have we succumbed to in this country where every decision of moral import is decided on the basis of money and lost jobs? Maybe we should make crack legal, too? After all, the tobacco companies could make a fortune hooking poor single-mothers on the stuff. Just think of what it will do for RJ Reynolds stock. And while we're at it, let's make underage prostitution legal. The bottom line is this: cigarettes are disgusting. The cancerous fumes they emit are deadly for both consumer and bystander. The stink that they deposit on to clothes is sickening. The yellow teeth and tear-inducing breath suffered by addicts are enough to make a decent person vomit. Let's have enough guts as a society to say enough is enough. If there is a certain segment of people who, due to personal weakness or some other malady, are unable to shake their addiction, fine. We can set up special treatment centers where they can go to inhale their dosage under the watchful eye of medical experts. Let's implant them with microchips so their movements can be tracked for the future implementation of forced sterilization programs.
• "This is America! Let's keep government's nose out of people's business!": The desire to keep government small and non-intrusive is dearly held by many conservatives, and rightly so. We should never forget the damage that has been done by overzealous utopian governments out to remake humanity in a fortnight. But at the same time, let us not forgot conservatism's twin mandates: To keep government small, yes, but also to fight for traditional institutions and conservative moral values like cleanliness, virtue, bravery, and truthfulness. Even the Boy Scouts of America, a decidedly non-liberal group, use not "Small Government!" for their motto, but instead "Physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight!" There is a name for people who believe that government should have absolutely no role in protecting our culture, and that name is not conservative. It is "radical libertarian", a name that describes those who want to legalize prostitution, gambling, and drugs, as well as privatizing our schools and police forces. Surely, small government is balanced with the pursuit of moral good in the current conservative worldview.
Most conservatives, after all, support all kinds of government intervention, and not only in the arena of drugs, gambling, and prostitution. Most also believe in the regulation of abortion, poisonous pop culture, deviant sexual activity, etc. Why, not too long ago even such a respected and august conservative journal as National Review proposed an amendment to the federal constitution designed to preserve the institution of marriage from perceived threats! This is hardly a small government at all costs philosophy. The regulation of toxic addictive drugs like nicotine is not only the right, but also the duty of a truly conservative government. Let's put the responsibility for the disintegration of our country's moral and intellectual standards squarely on the heads of our liberal friends who would defend the decadent "if it feels good, do it" lifestyle choices of miserable drug addicts, despite the manifest costs of their yearly butcher's bill.