Saturday, February 28, 2009

Flipping the bird at the Big Gauleiter

Now here is a newspaper column worth its weight in eco-friendly pulp paper. It is the incomparable George Jonas in the National Post commenting on the asinine Ontario government of Dalton McGuinty and its incremental state nannyisms.

Ontario recently passed a law that made it illegal for anyone to smoke in their motor vehicle if they were transporting a minor. This gets awfully close to passing a law that it is illegal to smoke in your own home if there is minor present. It may be dumb to smoke in your home, at any time, but under 800 years of English common law your home is supposed to be your castle.

But I digress to a dystopian future. Getting back to the cars.

A couple of weeks ago, a policeman pulled over a twenty year-old driver and issued him a ticket for this smoking offense. As they were waiting for the paperwork, the driver’s fifteen year-old passenger climbed out of the car and lit up a cigarette from her own pack. In Ontario, it is illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone under the age of 19, but it is not illegal for a minor to possess or smoke them.

Two paragraphs from Jonas’s column were spot on:

One day, historians may view our society as an anomaly. Canada fought long and sacrificed much for freedom-- then gradually adopted the philosophies and practices of the dismal societies it defeated. Canadians, who used to offer their lives for liberty, now offer their liberty for a modest increase in life expectancy: seven years, on average, for non-smokers.

But being around isn't the most important thing. The important thing is to be around as a free person. It's possible to combine the two, but unless we choose the second whenever a choice needs to be made, we won't enjoy the benefit of the first. Smoking is deadly, but it's not a patch, not even a nicotine patch, on the deadliness of tyranny.

Another reason I like Jonas is that he expands my vocabulary. There were two words he used that I had look up.

One was “gauleiter”, which, according to my Oxford dictionary, means: 1. an official governing a district under Nazi rule; 2. a local or petty tyrant.

The second was “iatrogenic”: (adj) caused by medical examination or treatment.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you and George are missing the point. This law is not about removing the liberty of its citizens for their own individual good (like the seat belt law, or the illegality of drugs, etc.). It is about intervening to protect the health of one who does not have the choice. The relatively rare case of the 15-year-old smoker aside, the minor in the back seat who sits quietly while a parent or caregiver lights up has no say in a matter that affects their health, so the law has stepped in to protect them. I dislike the government poking its nose into our personal freedoms as much as the next guy, but children need to be protected from the selfishness of adults who should know better.