Monday, January 27, 2014

Our Republic Up in Smoke

Our Republic Up in Smoke
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
January 27, 2014

I am not a smoker. However, as long as tobacco is legal I will defend smokers’ rights as well as the rights of an industry to cultivate their product for profit, keeping thousands gainfully employed.

Moreover, I object to the perpetual nanny-state micromanagement of the so-called free people of the United States to live freely in the privacy of their property be it a home or vehicle while consuming a legal product.

Already the law in the state of Oregon, now there is proposed legislation in Illinois to make it illegal to smoke in a car where there is a child present. State Senator Ira Silverstein (D) explained that it is necessary to protect children from secondhand smoke. Should this bill become law, it carries with it a $100 fine.

Make no mistake; I do not endorse children smoking or being subjected to the smoke of others. But, where will this end? Will the nanny-state push to outlaw smoking in people’s homes when children are present? What else will government attempt to regulate and deny to adults?

Will listening to rap music (something I NEVER do or endorse) be illegal in cars when children are present because of its content? Or in the home for the same reason? Will adults arguing in front of children in the car or home be banned for the sake of protecting their delicate sensibilities? Will the state visit everyone’s home to ensure all children eat their veggies and wear a warm coat?

How far will government – local, state, or federal, go, to control the lives of a seemingly free people? While I have opined that common sense is no longer common, we the people still must stand up for liberty and freedom. This is not about smoking in cars around children, which, again, I do not support.

There is a slippery slope at work here, and there are even conservatives who see the protection of children as the be-all-end-all and that it is permissible for government to step in. But how far is too far for government to not just regulate our lives, but dictate our behavior?

Government has pole vaulted far over the line and we the people are facing the point of no return.

“A Republic, if you can keep it,” is the second part and answer of an oft-quoted quip made by Benjamin Franklin at the close of the 1787 Constitutional Convention.

Yet, the question, asked by Dr. James McHenry, a Maryland delegate to the convention, is just as important. “Well, Doctor, what have we got – a Republic or a Monarchy?” queried McHenry.

Are we the people, in the 21st Century keeping our Republic or surrendering back to the days of a tyrannical, despotic monarchy? Do we the people not have the self-discipline, the personal responsibility, to maintain our freedoms? Time will tell. But for now, we are not headed in the right direction with legislation like this.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

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