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Speakeasies then, smokeasies now

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Why is it some people insist on controlling the lives of others through laws or ordinances?

Why do they think they know how others should live and feel empowered to do something about it?

Take for example back in 1919 with ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment, also known as the Volstead Act, making alcohol illegal and teetotalers and do-gooders finally getting their way. Look at all the mischief it caused.

We had criminals getting rich and the Mob running rampant around the country.

It also led to bootlegging and moonshining. One of my favorite old-time movies is "Thunder Road" about men in souped-up hot rods delivering their liquid cargo.

It’s a little known fact that those vehicles formed the basis for NASCAR as we know it today.

Chicago was infamous as the primary center of illegal activities involving Prohibition. The times spawned such notorious characters as "Scarface" Al Capone, Baby Face Nelson, Machine Gun Kelly, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker and John Dillinger. Another famous figure of the time was Elliot Ness, the "G-Man," who finally put Capone out of business for tax evasion.

If someone wanted a drink or to have a few drinks and socialize with others they’d simply go to the local speakeasy and enjoy themselves. Of course, you had to be known to the folks running the joint. One would knock on the door and a little door would open allowing the bouncer to identify whoever wanted to gain admission. It was all very chic back then.

Apparently, there is no ban or statute any government can cram down citizens’ throats that some folks will not resent and defy. It’s just human nature.

As more and more cities are passing ordinances banning smoking, even in bars and nightclubs, the outcry from smokers is being ignored and they have become second-class citizens forced to defy the law. Once again Illinois is the proof of the statement.

The Telegraph

reports "[l]ike speakeasies during Prohibition, the area now has ‘smokeasies.’ Almost every town has a bar or two where people know they can go to smoke without being told to extinguish it."

Similar reports are coming in from all across the country. Welcome to the resistance, folks.

Anti-smoking Nazis have been gaining ground for twenty years or so now and are having a field day sticking it to others.

It seems white males and smokers are now the only classes of citizens against whom it’s OK to discriminate.

At the building where I work, smokers stand outside in the cold, wind and rain to smoke. I happen to think it’s shameful. Oh, I know, someone would have to tolerate the "smell" and just can’t.

All of this is claimed to be a "health issue." Well, smokers certainly have the right to control their own health as I see it.

If you don’t like cigarette smoke, then for God’s sake don’t go where people are smoking. That’s pretty simple. It’s still a free country, and according to the First Amendment, you still have the right to associate – or not – with whomever you choose.

I happen not to smoke. I quit when cigarettes were $0.39 a pack, and that’s a long time ago. Still, to me it’s a freedom thing. Why should someone be able to restrict someone else’s freedom just because they find the consumption of a perfectly legal product smelly or perhaps unhealthy? As I said, just go somewhere else.

If the owner of a business wants to make their establishment non-smoking for legitimate business reasons I have no problem with that. However, for government to make that decision and force businesses to do it just hits me wrong.

Some people seem to think they have a right to go to any restaurant they want. If the business allows smoking, then it should stop that to accommodate those who don’t.

Just take your business elsewhere. Let the free market compel non-smoking at the establishment.

I don’t know what makes those folks think they’re so special everyone else has to bow to their wishes and kiss their backsides.

Some perfectly legal, established businesses are thumbing their noses at the stupid laws, relying on loyal customers to appreciate the scofflawry and be discreet.

Today’s smokeasies tend to be lower-end, local neighborhood establishments rather than the glitzy, higher-end places with an ever-changing clientele and much more to lose.

It’s a long-established fact that prohibitions just don’t work. There is no penalty harsh enough to make unwilling people obey foolish laws. Do-gooders have always tried to make people bend to their will, and so far all have failed.

Nanny-staters encourage and empower criminals. After all, criminals are in the best position to profit from government’s authoritarian goofs and challenge law enforcement’s attempts to enforce the laws by providing what people want. And, not cheaply I might add.

So, here’s to the flaunters! Liberty is still the best answer to the control freaks dying to tell us how to live.

Light ‘em up and blow a smoke ring toast to smokeasies everywhere!


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