With the passing of the smoking ban, Virginia demonstrates that, when it comes to individual liberty, its ongoing urbanization renders it just another Mid-Atlantic nanny state like New Jersey, Maryland, and New York. I don't need to rehash the libertarian arguments against smoking bans in private establishments. I will, however, note the following:
- Despite an email sent out by a minority of Republicans in the legislature, this ban passed with bipartisan support.
- Republicans are the worst advocates of libertarian policy imaginable. They're all too eager to go along to get along. And if they do have some moderate libertarian positions, they usually shoot their consistency in the foot by being moral policemen to the max (see my thoughts on the Blackburn vs. Stoch race).
- We erroneously and self-righteously frame this issue in simplistic terms of "rights" and "freedom" and "liberty", a language that nanny staters learned long ago to turn around on us. Nobody is against "freedom" or "liberty" or "rights", so this approach does not capture the essence of the controversy. If this were about abstractions like "rights", there are far more egregious government intrusions that would have been rejected long ago. No, we are against bans on peaceful behavior because they are enforced by men trained to hurt and kill us - period.
It's time to stop pretending our self-important, philosophical civics lessons wrapped in political activism work. Our outrage at the state, heartfelt as it may be, is not nearly enough to constitute the necessary resistance, nor is the rhetoric it produces adequate to the task of appealing to our fellow man. We have to start showing people that this is not a game: passing superfluous and intrusive laws pits men trained in violence and suppression against peaceful people. Confront the nanny staters directly with the means they've chosen to promote their agendas and ask them why they want to threaten, hurt, and even kill us and our fellow human beings. The stakes are too high to treat this as a friendly debate about ideas.