David Rodeback's Blog

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Saturday, May 12, 2007
Random Smokin' Thoughts

First, I have to say positive things about the Utah Jazz, because 'tis the season. Then I present my two-part plan for a kinder, gentler, less littered society. Preview: It's a pair of truces.

First, the Jazz

Allow me to note that the Jazz are smokin' -- despite getting burned last night. If I were a wagering man, I'd wager that Game Four will be a lot different from Game Three. Game Threes (Games Three?) happen in the NBA, and life goes on.

This Jazz team is fun to watch. They are talented, athletic, disciplined, and not crippled by monster egos, as we see in so many places in the NBA. They're a team.

Jerry Sloan is the man. I think he's my favorite personality in all of sports. I also think he'll arrive at the Hall of Fame having never been voted Coach of the Year. But you already knew there's injustice in the world.

Second, the Technology

What does it mean about my status as a sports fan that I still don't have cable or satellite television, despite the fact that BYU football and basketball and the current Jazz playoff series are not available on broadcast television?

Third, I Propose a Truce with Smokers

Here in the Land of the Free we've almost completely eliminated tobacco smokers' freedom to inhale the legal intoxicant of their choice. Two years ago, here at the blog, I called one small Utah piece of that effort "half-wit moralizing" and "petty tyranny."

I don't smoke, never have, and never will. Nobody else should, either. It's stupid, expensive, and deadly. But tobacco is a legal substance, officially endorsed by the US government. What I mean is, we subsidize tobacco farmers and are seriously addicted to tobacco tax revenues. How does that not add up to government endorsement?

None of which is actually my point.

I spent an hour and a half today with some other volunteers in downtown American Fork, sweeping sidewalks and picking up trash in front of downtown businesses. You might be wondering, "Why don't the businesses do that themselves?" I prefer to ignore that compelling question and pat myself on the back for setting a good example.

In the process I swept up a lot of cigarette butts, which leads me finally to my point.

Here's the compromise I propose. We'll let club owners, bar owners, and restauranteurs decide whether it's better for their businesses to allow smoking in all, part, or none of their establishments, rather than simply banning it everywhere. And we'll dial back the moralistic, democratic tyranny a couple of notches generally.

In return, smokers statewide will put all their (cigarette) butts in ashtrays, rather than throwing them on the ground. That's all I ask.

To help them develop the habit -- is that an insensitive phrase in this context? -- we'll make improper disposal of a butt a primary offense and fine the litterbugs $50 per occurrence, plus two hours of community service spent picking up litter along Utah roads.

The use of cigarette butts in landscaping statewide bugs me more than the occasional breath of secondhand smoke. Am I the only one? (You already knew I don't care that much about what I breathe, since I live on the Wasatch Front.)

Finally, a bonus item. This is for the slippery slope crowd. You know who you are.

Next, I want a truce between the junk food fascists and the straw, lid, and cup crowd. There will be no infringement of the right to go to the local convenience store or fast food outlet, purchase a 378-ounce cup of caffeine-rich malted battery acid, and drink it through a large-bore straw during work, play, sleep, whatever. In return, those who engage in this activity will receive the same official encouragement to discard their trash properly as our smokers will receive under my plan to keep their butts off the ground. For each offense, fifty dollars and two hours' community service, picking up trash along the road.

Think about it. It makes sense. Meanwhile, I'll put away the peace pipe and go have a little coughing fit.

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