Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Tennessean Advocates Ignoring Individual Rights

The Music City Oracle does not necessarily oppose banning smoking in state owned buildings, but The Tennessean editorial attempting to "look beyond the traditional arguments" only succeeds in offering bizarre ones. The editorial writer makes an odd leap in logic by seeming to argue that banning smoking in public buildings will cause all state employees to quit smoking, thus saving the government zillions of dollars currently lost through absenteeism, long smoke breaks, and health care costs.

That would be a considerable stretch, though employees may get more exercise if they have to leave the building to take a drag. And is the editorial suggesting that savings will come because the reduced absenteeism and fewer breaks will instantly result in a decrease in the number of state employees due to the sudden reduction in lost work time? That would be doubtful, but the advertising campaign by the state might be amusing: "stop smoking so that we can lay several thousand of you off." The state employee union might launch a "start smoking" campaign in response.

It is refreshingly, or perhaps distressingly, honest, however, for the editorial to admit that it is asking legislators to "look beyond ... arguments about individual rights." Our society seems to be quick to invite legislators to look beyond those rights, as long as they belong to someone else. Find an issue where there is some advantage in looking beyond the rights of individual journalists, and the editorial page will likely find that concept shocking.

The Music City Oracle always strives for consistency.


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