The following letter appeared in yesterday’s Opelika-Auburn News:
To the Editor:
Nobody forces anyone to enter a particular restaurant. If the owner of a restaurant voluntarily allows smoking in his or her establishment, and nobody who dislikes smoking is forced to enter, then what is the problem? Going into a privately-owned restaurant where smokers voluntarily associate and then complaining about the smoke makes as much sense as going to a rock concert and then complaining that they won’t turn off the loud music.
Yes, smoking is dangerous to one’s health. So is mountain-climbing. Whether it’s a risk worth taking or not should be up to the individual to decide. I don’t smoke, but I can’t see that it’s any of my business whether others do.
What happened to the idea of free choice? Why can’t some restaurants allow smoking and others not allow smoking, and let everyone choose which restaurants to patronize? Why inject the violence of the state into a peaceful situation?
Other people will often make decisions in their personal lives that annoy us. They will worship the “wrong” god, have sex with the “wrong” people, buy the “wrong” things, forget to fasten their seatbelts, etc.
But they are human beings like us, not subordinates under our authority. So long as they’re peaceful, their choices are not ours to direct, just as ours are not theirs to direct.
Some of your readers appear to have forgotten the basic principle of civilized life: that other people are not our property.
Roderick T. Long
On a related subject, here’s a letter I wrote to Dear Abby (not published):
Your readers who supported the mother for turning her son and his friends over to the cops for drug use are confusing the legal with the ethical. Laws against drug use are profoundly immoral, since they treat human beings as though they were the property of the state; and this country was founded on the principle that an immoral law is not binding. “Second Guessing” should be ashamed of herself for siding with armed enforcers against her own son and injecting governmental violence into a peaceful situation.
Roderick T. Long