Monday, March 5, 2007

Smoke If You Got Em (While you Still Can!)

I'm not sure what to make of this, but there is a bill in the Texas House to make throwing a lit cigarette, cigar, or match out of a motor vehicle a Class A misdemeanor, meaning fines of up to $4,000 and up to a year in jail.
There is also a bill to make smoking illegal during Holy Communion (OK I made that one up, but it's a great visual).

On the one hand I support the bill because smokers aren't harassed nearly enough, even though these benevolent people are so generous as to support a huge chunk of the Texas school system (I wish I could figure out to indicate sarcasm in print). Also it is a property issue. If the driver throws anything out of his vehicle onto someone else's property, it's a trespass, whether it's a cigarette butt, gum wrapper, or political advertisement. (By the way, I do support a bill to ban political advertising on public and private property under the reasoning that I don't like seeing political advertising, therefore it should be illegal).

On the other hand, how do you enforce a law banning throwing a lit object from a vehicle? Short of everyone dialing 911 every time they see someone's window go down and a set of fingers flick something, what do you do? Part of the rational behind it is to prevent wildfires, but once again if you can't enforce the law what good is it? If preventing wildfires is the goal, wouldn't banning matches, lighters, lightning (that's right the stuff that cracks down from the clouds), the internal combustion engine (the exhaust system gets awfully hot), and the use of shiny objects during daylight hours be more effective?

Overall, I find this proposed law quite stupid, despite whatever noble and high minded ideals might be behind it. As Charles Murray observed:
"(S)ociety is weakened every time a law is passed that large numbers of reasonable, responsible citizens think is stupid. Such laws invite good citizens to choose knowingly to break the law, confident that they are doing nothing morally wrong."

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