The desire to eliminate

Sharing something I wrote for my Facebook friends…

The change of an era… This was the first week with the new rule where I work prohibiting smoking anywhere on campus. Now those who smoke have to either completely leave campus grounds whenever they want a cigarette, or be forced to sneak a drag behind a bush like some adolescent pot smoker.

I remember when I first came to campus, you could smoke in the buildings – not in classrooms per se (at least not during an actual class), but just about anywhere else – offices, break rooms, theatres… At the end of each day, they had to sweep up buckets full of cigarette butts from the floor of the coffee shop. When they finally stopped allowing smoking generally in the hallways (and restricted it to designated rooms), it took forever to get some of the students to stop doing it.

I’m glad there’s no longer smoking in public areas of public buildings. It makes sense.

But I confess that I’m a bit sad and discouraged when I see any kind of blanket prohibitions. Was it really that much of an inconvenience to non-smokers to allow some segregated outdoor locations where smoking could occur?
We have this tendency as a species to desire complete eradication of something we don’t like. Take those who are offended by nudity, for example. It’s not enough for them to have beaches where clothing is required so they can attend without fear of seeing a breast. No, they work to make clothing mandatory at EVERY beach, no matter how remote, even though they would never go there themselves.

This same drive has helped keep the drug war going despite its disastrous consequences. And it is behind the effort to attempt to deny gay people the same rights as others.

Of course the desire to blanket ban is often justified by the “do-gooders” as being their “concern” for the well-being of others. They just want to save others from sinning by being gay or naked, or from harming their health by smoking or doing drugs. Well who the fuck gave them that right?

If someone wants to educate me about what they think is bad for my soul or my lungs, that’s fine. I’ll listen and decide for myself what I want to do with that information. But when they want to force me to adhere to their beliefs, I’m not interested.

I know that smoking is harmful. And I’m glad I gave it up years ago. But I also have no regrets for those years that I was a smoker. God, I enjoyed it! I have great memories of sitting around an overflowing ashtray with a bunch of friends talking about… well, anything. Philosophy, movies, art, politics — OK, there may have been another kind of smoke involved as well. And I wouldn’t give those experiences up.

No, I don’t mind some time-and-place regulation of activities. But the drive to completely eliminate an activity because some people don’t like it, is, to me, a very ugly part of who we are.

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