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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Breaking unjust (and stupid) laws

From the New York Times:Aleqm5ho2kn0dfskwx0rc4nkeqhni6mvjg

"Defying France's strict new antismoking laws, Sean Penn, right, president of the jury at the 61st Cannes Film Festival, lighted a cigarette at a news conference yesterday, Agence France-Presse reported. After a couple of puffs in defiance of rules that banned smoking in enclosed spaces since January, he put the cigarette aside and returned to answering reporters' questions. But a jury member, the Iranian writer and director Marjane Satrapi, prompting laughter, then asked if anyone minded if she smoked "for medical reasons." She lighted a cigarette; Mr. Penn and the French actress Jeanne Balibar joined her."

The Winnipeg Sun reminded me that:

"Penn made news at the 2006 Toronto filmfest when he smoked at a press conference; fest officials earned a stern rebuke from provincial watchdogs and Toronto's Sutton Place Hotel was fined for the infraction.  That is unlikely to happen at Cannes, a tobacco-stained jewel in the south of smoke-choked France."

(H/T Jason Kottke)

Posted by Kalim Kassam on May 22, 2008 | Permalink


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What a childish fellow.

Posted by: dp | 2008-05-22 6:41:46 PM

Are we to believe that Sean Penn objects to smoking bans on a principle(s) shared by libertarians or consevatives? Does anyone believe he's a property rights advocate? My guess is that he's just an addict with no impulse control or manners.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-05-22 6:49:46 PM

MJ- Add showoff. It's one sure way to stay center of attention.

Posted by: dp | 2008-05-22 6:56:11 PM

MJ, and dp, good points. It does illustrate the principle of freedom in an interesting way. We all believe in freedom when it comes to us, for at least some things. But some are willing to impose restrictions on the freedoms of others.

Posted by: TM | 2008-05-22 7:01:43 PM

I think we should all be honoured by his attendance at these events. These rules infrations serve as reminders as to just how unworthy we are in his magnificent presence.

Posted by: daveh | 2008-05-22 9:03:19 PM

These anti smoking nuts should really get a life. For every freedom removed,another freedom must be put into the breech. Before you know it we will have people that will try to control what we say or even think. Wait a minute, that's starting to ring a bell.At the rate we are going Cuba will soon look like a bastion of freedom.

Posted by: peterj | 2008-05-22 10:21:56 PM

It's been so long I've almost forgotten how disgusting it used to be trying to eat in a restaurant. In my line of work restaurants are not entertainment, they're a necessity. I have this vision of my fist landing between that guy's ears shortly after he lights that stick.

It's been so long I've softened a bit on the smokers. I actually sort of feel sorry for drunks who have to go outside the bar for a smoke. I mean, really, who goes to the bar for his health? Of course I don't go to bars, so it doesn't affect me. Yes, I'm going soft.

Just when I think I should live and let live, I remember the time some guy lit a smoke and proceeded to blow it right in my 2 year old's face. I remember asking politely, and getting that look. I remember waiting 2.5 seconds before twisting his collar really tight and pulling his soft smoker's body across the floor and out the door. It all comes back in a rush when I look at that smug little punk with that stinky stick in his hand.

Right between the ears.

Posted by: dp | 2008-05-22 10:47:35 PM

In a true democracy we would have smoking and NON smoking restaurants. Life could be so simple in a true democracy.

Posted by: peterj | 2008-05-22 11:10:49 PM

It's a nice thought Peter, but I've been stuck for weeks at a time in towns with one restaurant. It really makes life miserable to feel sick every time you sit down to eat. Believe me, my freedom was trampled for a lot of years.

Posted by: dp | 2008-05-22 11:18:44 PM

Now you know how smokers feel. All i am saying is that it should be left up to the owner of any restaurant to cater to one side or the other. He/she knows who the customer base is. If there is only 1 restaurant in a town, that would be a opportunity for for any savy business person to fill the vacuum.. Stuck for WEEKS in towns with a single restaurant. My god......what do you do for a living.

Posted by: peterj | 2008-05-23 12:05:04 AM

What is childish is expecting the whole world to cater to your preferences, just because on rare occasions you can't make plans to avoid annoyances.

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2008-05-23 12:48:38 AM

Peter-What do you do for a living? Thousands of people in Alberta are forced to eat in restaurants for weeks at a time. Over 50% of the population do not smoke. It only takes a couple of inconsiderate assholes to make it unbearable for the majority of diners. That's why the no smoking laws were enacted. Democracy in action.

Grant- You've been working in a non-smoking environment for so long you've lost touch. You view restaurants as a form of entertainment. You are completely out of touch. Making plans to avoid annoyances? Right between the ears pal, that's my plan.

Posted by: dp | 2008-05-23 7:44:57 AM

Two words, dp: take out. :-)

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-05-23 9:10:50 AM

Spiccoli should move to France. The French will appreciate all varieties of his exhaust.

Posted by: Joan Tintor | 2008-05-23 9:11:26 AM

>"What is childish is expecting the whole world to cater to your preferences, just because on rare occasions you can't make plans to avoid annoyances."
Grant Brown | 23-May-08 12:48:38 AM

>"Over 50% of the population do not smoke. It only takes a couple of inconsiderate assholes to make it unbearable for the majority of diners."
dp | 23-May-08 7:44:57 AM

"Believe me, my freedom was trampled for a lot of years."
dp | 22-May-08 11:18:44 PM

The anti-smoking lobby is spearheaded by Seventh Day Adventists who term their campaign "Tobacco Control".
Now smokers can't even smoke outside in some public places in Alberta now.
What's next?
The government will be taking people's children away because their parents smoke.

You think your freedom has been trampled at some else's restaurant?
My freedom is trampled right at home.
I have 5 neighbours whose homes are close enough to mine that I could hit them with an easy throw.
I call them pyros.
They all have backyard burn pits and love to burn on summer evenings.
They like to burn when it's a warm evening after a hot day.
The majority of my home's windows face due south, so my home gets very hot on those warm days.
I would like to open the windows in the evening and let the heat out at night, but can't, because my bedroom fills up with the smoke from their burn pits.

I could avoid restaurants that allow smoking.
I can't even enjoy my own home, or spend a warm evening on my deck or inmy own backyard.

On Monday, I'm shelling out $5300 for a Trane air conditioner so I can sleep at night in the summer.
I still won't get to use my own backyard or deck, though.

That is how my freedom is trampled.

Posted by: Speller | 2008-05-23 9:34:46 AM

Thank you Speller. I think far too many have lost the meaning of freedom. Oh yes, they can shout with the best of them when they lose a freedom dear to them, but then are willing to join the Brown Shirts to trample on the freedoms of others when they do not like those freedoms. This is exactly how we have reached the present point concerning the erosion of freedom of expression. As long as people are willing sheep to be conquered by this sort of division, we shall continue to lose all remaining freedom one step at a time.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-05-23 10:59:22 AM

Alain, agreed. And it is easy to lose those freedoms one step at a time, because many times the cost to fight is more the immediate cost to just live with it. Think about legislation that errodes a freedom. How do you change it? Not easily thats for sure.

So freedom lovers can be viewed as soft on crime, or whatever, because we see ANY action by government that restricts freedom in any way, as a threat.

Posted by: TM | 2008-05-23 3:05:11 PM

Speller- I've had the same problem with fire pits. It's all the worse in southern Alberta because poplar is the only wood most people can get. Poplar smoke is extremely toxic. My new place has central air so I don't notice it any more.

For some reason you don't see the similarity between your complaint and mine. Both are the result of someone allowing a toxin to enter our lungs. Both involve someone claiming that they deserve the freedom to create this toxic cloud as long as it's on private property.

They tell me to eat somewhere else when there is no other place to get nourishment after walking 10 or 15 km. in the summer heat. They tell you to close your window and try to sleep when the temperature in your bedroom hits 35 celsius.

Matthew says get takeout and huddle in my car to eat. Why can't you catch a few Zs in the old Toyota? I'm sure it has air conditioning, right?

The truth is I've had enough arguing over it. The fight's pretty well over, the smokers lost. One concession I'd make is to let people smoke in bars. I think that may have been over the top. Bars are a place for people to unwind and do things they can't do at home or work. Judging from Grant's comments, he probably wasn't allowed to smoke at home. Bars and restaurants were likely his only refuge, a place to let his hair down and bond with other abused men.

Posted by: dp | 2008-05-23 6:58:01 PM

"For some reason you don't see the similarity between your complaint and mine." -- dp

The difference is that one is private property and one is the public environment.

You can fill your business with smoke, noisy music, etc. If I don’t like it, I can go elsewhere or do without.

When someone fills my house with smoke, they're polluting the public environment and violating my property rights. It's a negative externality.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-05-23 7:11:52 PM

Oh well, like I said, I'm done arguing. Smokers lost. Ha Ha. I suppose it was ultimately the employees of these establishments that turned the tide. They obviously have the right to work in a safe environment. Workplace safety is such a big issue today that there's absolutely no chance these rules will be relaxed. If anything they'll get more and more restrictive.

Posted by: dp | 2008-05-23 7:33:05 PM

No dp, freedom lost not smokers. It is sad you cannot grasp the concept and get beyond the me and only me. The day will come however that those like you will find freedoms you hold dear gone to the wind. Only then it will be far too late.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-05-23 9:01:49 PM

Oh come on Alain. Don't go all phylosophical on us. Freedom gone in the wind? It's an addictive drug that harms innocent bystanders. It's used by an ever shrinking minority of people. It's supporters are addicts who shouldn't even be part of the argument.

When I hear someone going on and on about freedom of choice and personal freedoms, I know its actually a tiny part of his brain that's been deprived of nicotine doing the talking. Anyone who's ever dealt with an addict knows they'll say and do anything to get a fix. Arguing with them is an exercise in futility.

Smokers lost, freedom reigns.

Posted by: dp | 2008-05-23 9:20:25 PM

The basic principle is this: Part of what it means to be an owner of property is to be able to enjoy the use of that property howsoever you wish, "without the leave of any man," as long as it does not disrupt the enjoyment other people derive from the use of their property.

Consistently with this principle, smoking in restaurants and other private businesses should be up to the owners of the property to decide. Laws taking away this right of property owners are real and unwarranted infringements on freedom.

Consistently with this principle, nobody should be allowed to create smoke (or noise) on their property that drifts into the neighbour's property and causes a nuisance there that detracts from the neighbour's enjoyment of his property. Foisting your pollution or noise on neighbours is a real and unwarranted infringement on your neighbours' freedom.

The latter case is actually somewhat more complicated because of course we can't prohibit absolutely everything that might cause molecular movement between property boundaries. The pollution or the noise your neighbour creates has to reach an unacceptable threshold before it counts as a genuine nuisance that can be prohibited in the name of preserving your fredom. Ideally, those thresholds would be the subject of freely negotiated restrictive covenants between neighbouring property owners, or subject to neighbourhood governance (as in condo buildings). In some extreme cases, the law of torts could be engaged.

Those are the principled positions on the matter. But dp seems not to have had enough contact with principled people to realize that a position can be advanced on the basis of something other than one's own personal preferences. That would explain why he thinks accommodation of his own exquisite sensibilities is the only reasonable position.

He is completely off base in the preferences he attributes to me, however. He should have said he was jumping to conclusions about me in complete ignorance, rather than that he was "judging" by my comments. There's very little actual judgment in his opinions.

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2008-05-23 10:51:30 PM

My exquisite sensibilities? What a pansy.

Yes I've resorted to name calling so you can dispense with the indignation.

You are wrong because the law says you're wrong. You can't smoke in public. You can't inflict injury on bystanders with your addiction any more. It's over. You lost. Shut up.

And the topping on the cake is restaurant and bar owners are actually happy with the new regulations. All your claims that business owners would suffer was just more lies from a bunch of addicts. Why in hell would people stop eating because they can't smoke between bites? Only an addict could rationalize that sort of behaviour.

I doesn't matter how much you cry, it won't change a thing. You lost. You are wrong. You've always been wrong.

Posted by: dp | 2008-05-23 11:38:18 PM

dp, I hate smoke and like that I don't need to smell it or be around it anymore. I think most people would agree with me, even some smokers.

So we have all won in the sense that we are all less exposed to second hand smoke. But if you move above the issue and look at it from the point of view of property rights, you begin to see something disturbing. And that is an entity that can physically force you to do something, or not do something, has been able to legislate what people can do on their own property.

True, there may be some employees who are rejoicing because they do not have to be exposed to second hand smoke. But the reality, is that it is a bigger problem when a property owner is physically forced to prohibit smoking on his property than it is for an employee to go get another job.

Posted by: TM | 2008-05-24 12:04:01 AM


You see, there's a point of view I could work with. The people who accuse me of being ignorant, and misinformed are the ones who lost the fight because of their shitty attitude. The way they approach the issue reminds me of Marc Emery's approach to the fight for pot legalization. They will never succeed with spokesmen like that.

Most non-smokers would have been willing to accomodate smokers if they hadn't been bombarded with the sort of personal assaults we've seen here. No wonder people like me finally dropped the hammer. If only they'd been just a bit humble they might have kept a few special areas, but the addiction just took control of their actions.

The time for concessions has long passed. Why would I give the slightest favour to someone who calls me unprincipled, ignorant, and lacking in judgement?

Get outside to smoke Brown. Make sure you stay 5 metres from the door, and exhale before you come back inside. And pick up that butt. There's a garbage can right in front of you. Sound childish? Too bad.

Posted by: dp | 2008-05-24 12:27:08 AM


Your reading comprehension leaves as much to be desired as your "judgment." So let me drop all subtlety and tell you bluntly: I have never taken a single drag on a single cigarette in my entire life -- not even as an "experiment" as a teen. I have never used any illicit narcotics, not once in my life. I have never used the services of a prostitute....

I am making a principled argument for liberty -- something you seem incapable of appreciating.

Saying things like: "You are wrong because the law says you're wrong" is sheer idiocy. Keep it up and you will be toast just like Logic Chopper, truecolours, ROGER, Karol, and the other discredited hacks who once inhabited this space.

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2008-05-24 10:39:17 AM

Actually Grant, this space would be better off without a pompous ass like you, but if you want to block me go right ahead. Your ceaseless whining over the inequality of the sexes has turned off a lot of regulars, including me. You represent a very, very small segment of society. If that's who these folks want to cater to so be it.

So what's it gonna be folks? Does a pseudointellectual pansy like Grant get to police the site? If so, goodbye.

Posted by: dp | 2008-05-24 11:22:57 AM

In looking back through the various comments, dp you are the one insulting and attacking those who disagree with you and point out how the concept of liberty escapes you. You need to step back and try to reflect on the issue in order to get beyond the "me" issue. You may think start to understand what true liberty/freedom means. If I supported the concept that everyone who does or says something I do not like or find offensive should be deprived of their freedom, then I could no longer in good faith claim to support liberty and freedom. This is exactly what is killing all free societies to-day, those who are determined to impose their agenda on everyone else. Frankly it is not any different than the Islamo-fascists.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-05-25 11:23:23 AM


Technically, I'm attacking and insulting those who are assaulting me with a toxic substance. Using the issue of freedom of choice is their smokescreen, so to speak. The concept of liberty does not escape me at all.

I believe that free people have the right to access essential services without being assaulted by profanity, unsafe premises(no railings, slippery floors, open flames, etc.), spoiled food, and a long list of other things the government has jurisdiction over.

You and I might have a different view of what an essential service is. If you believe I have no right to eat while in a certain town for business, I guess you can argue that point. In a province where so many people are transient for the better part of their working lives, you'll end up with a big disagreement from a fairly powerful industry. When we had "no smoking sections" things were acceptable to me, but as some people pointed out it's a bit like having a "no pissing section" in the swimming pool.

If my reading comprehension doesn't measure up to Grant's standards, I can't do much to change it. I'm too old to suddenly become an intellectual. My world is just a long series of experiences with real life situations. Maybe I started the insults, maybe not. It depends on what you think should insult me.

Where our paths cross is the right of an individual to have an establishment where all users agree to allow smoking, pornography, fistfights, etc. I believe people should be allowed to have dogfights, as long as the dogs have absolutely no possibility of making it into the general population. Just as restricted weapons must be kept under lock and key, so should fighting dogs. Kelly Sutherland had it figured out back in the 80's. If a couple of bullriders decided to duke it out, he'd lock the doors and make sure they got it out of their system. Free beer for the winner. No cops got in til it was over. Everyone understood the rules going in. There were plenty of other places to go if it was too rough for you.

When an entrepreneur applies for a business license, say for a restaurant, he has quite a number of codes to comply with. I haven't seen any freedom of choice advocates complaining that bar owners shouldn't have to install dry chemical fire extinguishers above their grills. No one is up in arms that food handlers are required to take a course in safe food handling. No one gets upset that restaurants can't serve moose meat they bought in the alley from a couple of natives in a pickup truck. Why? Because they know there's a health risk.

The majority has obviously decided there's a health risk to non smokers in public places, and they've designated these licensed, regulated, restaurants as public places. As far as I'm concerned the "people" have spoken. When Grant says I'm an idiot for interpreting this decision as making my position "right", he's going against the will of the people, not an unjust law.

For my insults, I apologize. Not so much because they hurt others, but because they hurt my side of the argument.

Posted by: dp | 2008-05-25 12:11:44 PM

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