For a place that is allegedly so conservative, there sure are a lot of nanny-staters in the Lowcountry.
If you noticed the list of cities and counties with smoking bans in The Post and Courier this week, you saw that Hilton Head, Bluffton and Beaufort (city and county) have outlawed public puffing just like Sullivan's Island, the Isle of Palms, Mount Pleasant and Charleston.
These are all places (with the exception of Charleston) that almost always vote strongly with the get-government-out-of-our-lives crowd. Yet they have no problem imposing their will on private businesses when it comes to smoking.
Sorry, but it's hypocritical to say "less government intrusion, except when it comes to smoking because that's icky."
Dorchester County Council is the latest bunch to ponder an attack on freedom. As Bo Petersen reported Wednesday, the council delayed its vote on a county-wide workplace smoking ban yet again, and appears ready to snuff it out.
It's about time somebody stood up to political correctness.
The bottom line
There are, of course, two sides to every story -- no matter what the cable news people say.
The anti-smoking activists say they do it for the health of people who work in, and frequent, places where smoking is allowed. It's true that a lot of people who work in bars and restaurants where smoking is allowed aren't keen on smelling like an ashtray day in and day out, and they probably don't consider secondhand smoke much of a gratuity.
It's easy for pro-smoking folks to say those workers have a choice, but in this economy the choice might be unemployment. It is a troublesome dilemma.
Patrons, of course, have every choice in the world. Let 'em go someplace else if they don't like the smoke. No one is guaranteed the constitutional right to have a beer at Upstairs at the Icehouse and not smell a Salem.
That's what it comes down to ultimately: the rights of business owners. Anyone who thinks this kind of thing doesn't have an effect on the bottom line should ask the folks at Bert's Bar.
Oh, wait -- you can't. The smoking ban on Sullivan's Island effectively shut down the place.
Let 'em live?
At Dorchester County Council this week, Councilman George Bailey put it all in perfect perspective.
"Are we going to tell the people in Dorchester County you can't go out in the sun because we have a fear of melanoma?" Bailey asked. "When are we going to stop telling people what they can and can't do with their lives."
The next logical stops down the road from this smoking-ban mentality includes outlawing drinking and sausage. And then what will we eat while watching football?
Smoking is a nasty habit, it's not good for anyone and folks would be better off if they didn't do it. You could say the same thing about eating pork rinds. But people around here are so passionate about personal freedom that we're about to get a "Don't Tread on Me" license plate in this state.
So let 'em smoke, let 'em live. Or let 'em die. It's their choice, not the government's.
As many anti-government types as we have around here, you wouldn't think you'd need to spell that out.