I’m not a fan of smoking, both because I am a fan of healthy lungs and cardiovascular systems and because I am not a fan of tobacco companies. I discourage my children from smoking. But I know a lot of smokers, and so long as they take care not to make it too difficult for people to avoid second-hand smoke — the primary purpose of “No Smoking” signs — I leave them to their vices. (We all have our vices, after all.) I think that cigarettes should be taxed higher just to internalize their social cost, but I don’t favor complete eradication of smoking or smokers.
This seems pretty standard, safe stuff, right? Not to a Tea Party Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in West Virginia, it doesn’t. I import this into Orange County because we’re one of the home bases of the Tea Party and I’m hoping that some Tea Party advocates out there can either explain it or will distance themselves from it.
Today (through sundown) is “Holocaust Remembrance Day” (Yom Ha Shoah), but I’d like to think that the story I’m about to convey is just a horrible coincidence.
I saw a story this morning saying that John Raese of West Virginia had “compared” no smoking signs to the yellow Jewish stars forced upon Jews in Nazi Germany before and during the Holocaust. I’m very suspicious of complaints that someone “compared” A to B, because technically saying that Adolf Hitler’s mustache was less attractive than Tom Sellack’s can be describes as “comparing Tom Sellack to Adolf Hitler,” and someone is usually, for their own political gain, willing to pretend to get offended over such a comparison being made and make a big deal over it, hoping that people don’t read too closely. So when I see a “comparison” complaint against someone, I make a point of going to the original story.
Here’s what U.S. Senate candidate (and 2010 nominee) John Raese recently said:
“I don’t want government telling me what I can do and what I can’t do — because I’m an American. But in Monongalia County, you can’t smoke a cigarette, and you can’t smoke a cigar, you can’t do anything,” Raese said.
“And I oppose that, because I believe in everybody’s individual freedoms, and everybody’s individual rights to do what they want to do. And I’m a conservative and that’s the way that goes.
“But in Monongalia County now, I have to put a huge sticker on my buildings to say that this is a smoke-free environment. This is brought to you by the government of Monongalia County. OK?
“Remember, Hitler used to put Star of David on everybody’s lapel, remember that? Same thing.
“You remember the NRA — not the National Rifle Association, but the National Recovery Act, when General Roosevelt [sic] was in charge of the presidency at the time? It was so unconstitutional, and so many regulations, that he made you put an ‘NRA’ sticker on your building, so you applied — or complied, with these regulations. That was Fidel Roosevelt.”
Yep. He deserves all of the criticism he gets for this. By the way, Roosevelt wasn’t a general, let alone being Castro.
I know that some people in the Tea Party are rational and sincere, expressing what I think to be genuine although sometimes misplaced concerns about the scope of government. So could y’all step in and say what you think about forcing buildings to put up “No Smoking” signs (so that people won’t smoke and make those near them sick) being equated to making a minority group wear special patches so that others would know to shun and abuse them? I don’t get it, and I’d like to think that many Tea Party members here don’t get it either.