Via Dave Hitt on Facebook, Christopher Hitchens on smoking bans:
There used to be areas, like the West Village in New York or North Beach in San Francisco, that are now dull and boring and have to be policed. And I think that’s a terrible loss. I write better when I have a cigarette and a drink. I’m more fun to be with—other people seem less boring. The life of bohemia, of the small cafe and the little bar that never quite closes, is essential to cultural production. It may seem like a small thing. It doesn’t add very much to the GNP. But if you take it away, you may not know what you’ve lost until it’s too late.
But suppose all this was really a good idea—people might live longer. Suppose all that was really true. There would still be the question of enforcement, that awkward little bit that comes between your conception of utopia and your arrival there. The enforcement bit. You could appoint regulators and inspectors to enforce the law. It would take quite a lot of them, but you could do it. There are such people. I know about them because they’ve come after me.
My editor, Graydon Carter, the splendid editor of Vanity Fair, and I were having a cigarette in his office. And someone on our staff—it’s not very nice to think about it—was kind enough to drop a dime on us. And round the guys came. “You’re busted!” These people are paid by the city, which evidently has no better use for its police.
I think that’s bad enough. But then Graydon went on holiday, and I went back to Washington. And his office was empty. But they came round again and they issued him another ticket because he had on his desk an object that could have been used as an ashtray. In his absence. With no one smoking. But there are officials who have time enough to come round and do that.
The worst part is that the staff has to become the enforcers. The waitresses have to become the enforcers. The maitre d’ has to become the enforcer. He has to act as the mayor’s representative. Because it’s he who is going to be fined, not you. If you break the law in his bar, he is going to have to pay.
So everyone is made into a snitch. Everyone is made into an enforcer. And everyone is working for the government. And all of this in the name of our health.
And in respect of the killing of Eric Garner:
And 6 myths that people believed about alcohol during Prohibition:
1. ALCOHOL TURNS BLOOD INTO WATER
2. MERELY SMELLING ALCOHOL COULD DEFORM UNBORN CHILDREN
3. SOME BOOTLEG WINES WERE MADE WITH COCKROACHES
4. MOST BEER DRINKERS DIE OF DROPSY
5. ALCOHOL CAN GIVE YOU A 25-POUND LIVER
6. DRUNKARDS’ BRAINS CAN BE USED AS TORCHES
I got invited to the Institute of Ideas. I’m glad I didn’t go. What Christopher Snowdon says in the first section made perfect sense. But the woman who spoke after him said she thought it was a good thing to have a nanny state making decisions for people about stuff like smoking, because it allowed them to concentrate on more important questions. And the guy who spoke after her said that a lot of people simply make the wrong choices, and so the state had to step in. I stopped listening after that.