You dangle the fat juicy worm. I know are a Florida woman who loves to fish and catch the whopper.
I am a civil libertarian. As thus, I am often defending rights of those who disgust me, but I am who I am, and I am a civil libertarian through and through. I have been most of my adult life, and even as young as my early teen years. Jefferson is one of my idols. I believe in your rights and will defend them.
I do agree that smoking on the beach when non-smokers or kids are around is socially unacceptable. However, I do not believe our government or any other entity should have the right to chip away at any of our civil liberties because they are unpopular at the moment. Social conscious should teach us how to behave. Smokers should have respect for non-smokers.
“Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward.”
― Henry David Thoreau
I know I am taking a position that will cost me respect and possibly even friendship in this town I love, which it already has, but I am not a fake. I speak my mind and cannot with any self-respect do otherwise. Over the past decades, I have taken a toll for being a firm supporter of personal rights that I even find disagreeable to my own standards. Of course, Cathy, I am speaking of the right to free speech as much as other unpopular rights.
As a journalist, how would you feel if the City Council of Gulfport, and 90% of the people dictated what you could say in public? “Shut up, Cathy, by the laws of Gulfport we demand of you regardless of the United States Constitution.”
Cathy, count on me to defend your right to say whatever you want at any time you want. Period. If I don’t like what you say, I hope you defend my right to say what I want to say back. I sincerely hope we both have the tight to do that for the rest of our lives.
Will I stand up and argue for Nazis to speak? Yes. Do I agree with what they say? Hell, no. But if I support taking away their right to speak, I am supporting taking away my right to speak someday. And my right might be taken away sooner.
Shake-speare in Sonnet 66 (a very important sonnet) wrote it well in 1609 when even his voice (Sir Francis Bacon in my opinion) was subdued by the threat of having one’s head chopped off:
And arte made tung-tide by authoritie,
And Folly (Doctor-like) controuling skill,
And simple-Truth miscalled Simplicitie,
And captiue-good attending Captaine ill.
Do I feel people should smoke on the beach around non-smokers? No. Do I believe people should smoke around non-smokers anywhere? No. I wouldn’t do that, but that is not due to any law, but due to respect for others.
From the first emergence of the Gulfport Smoking Ban discussion I suggested that we put out signs that say, “Please, do not smoke on our beach.” No cost to the City as far as legal fees or lawsuits, no infringement on rights of citizens, no burden to our police who have real crime to deal with, and probably would be as effective if not more than a pseudo-legal or ill-conceived politically motivated ban that anyone who could do a fair Google search of Florida laws would not believe would fly.
The saddest result of this fiasco was the total demise of the most unified movement I have ever seen in Gulfport – to clean up the litter on the beach and around town. The divisions have been deep and permanent, splitting our community when so much positive was developing. What a sad shame. Will Gulfport ever have the collective energy again that was born for that brief powerful moment?
I doubt any of the “Nash’s of the Gulfport Smoking Ban” had any interest in smoking on Gulfport Beach. They are heroes, however much hated, for us few remaining civil libertarians who are 100% Americans and valuable tax payers fighting for your rights as much as ours. Hate us, but we will still fight for you because we believe and will stand up for your civil rights, even if we don’t like them.
Cathy, chip away at our rights, or “their” rights, no matter how small, seemingly unimportant, or socially unpopular, and one day we will have none left to defend. Sadly, we are heading in that direction faster than I care to think about. Fewer of us speak up because it is so hard to be publically attacked by the masses, the media, or even a highly vocal minority.