Thingish Things

No Onions

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Feb• 03•11

Tools of the Criminal Trade

If New York City is going to ban smoking in parks, it should logically ban it everywhere. The new law was passed to protect the lungs of non-smokers, right?  So why will non-smokers in Central Park be better protected than non-smokers on, say, Fifth Avenue?

Pedestrians on Broadway and Steinway Street are in closer proximity to cigarette puffers on a daily basis than are strollers in MacArthur Park or the Van Cortland woods. Does the City Council not care about them?

Why will smoking be banned in pedestrian plazas in Times Square, but not on the sidewalks three feet away? Both locations are public. Does standing in the plazas give one a special right to protection?

What if smoke from a cigarette legally smoked on a sidewalk wafts over the imaginary divide and into a park?  Is that a crime? Or do one’s feet have to be planted on a beach or in a park for the criminal conduct to be committed?  And what if one foot is in and one foot out? Do college rules apply, or do you have to have two feet in like in the NFL?

These seem like natural questions to me.  If the City wants to protect non-smoking lungs, why the half-measure?

The reason, of course, is that the law is patently ridiculous as is, and extending a ban beyond parks and beaches would have only highlighted that more. The mayor and the Council clearly surmised that this was as far as they could go — for now — without facing overwhelming blow back from civil libertarians and late night talk show hosts.

If they really had guts, they’d go all the way and live with the consequences.

Now we are told the law will be “self-policing”, which means it’s no law at all. It will only make criminals out of smokers, and narcs out of tattle-tales — “Officer, I just saw someone SMOKING by Bethesda Fountain. Get him!”

I don’t smoke.  I quit a few years ago, so I won’t be breaking this law. But I won’t be turning anyone in on it either.

Will that make me an accomplice to a crime? And is that a self-policing offense, too?

I better turn myself in right now.

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