Thursday, April 16, 2009

Butt heads

Right up front, I need to let you know that I don't like smoking. If you smoke, I don't like that you smoke.

However, I understand that it's your decision to smoke. I just figured you were smarter than that. Obviously, I was wrong about some of you.

You don't need me preaching to you about all the things that are bad about smoking. You've heard it all. You know all the reasons.

And, if you still smoke, that's your decision. I just don't want to have to smell it.

I don't want to have to pick up your cigarette butts, either.

And that's my quandary.

When I was in the Army, one of the duties I hated most was having to police the area around the barracks or around the company or battalion headquarters.

Not that I minded picking up trash so much. Things would blow in -- candy wrappers, Burger King bags, paper napkins, and such -- and they'd need to be policed up.

But the wind doesn't really blow cigarette butts very far. When we picked up cigarette butts, it was because some butt head had tossed it on the ground.

Being a non-smoker, I didn't like picking up the butts. But it needed to happen. Soldiers often go in and clean up other people's messes. Whether it's something some politician screwed up somewhere, or someone's cigarette butts on the ground, soldiers end up cleaning it up.

So, when I read about Deb Schallert and her crusade to make it a crime in Oregon to toss cigarette butts on the ground, I understood from whence she came.

But I disagree with her.

It's already a crime to litter. Even in Oregon. I suppose another law is supposed to make people stop?

And that's the mentality of lots of folks. "Hey, let's pass a law making it illegal, and people will stop."

Passing laws has certainly stopped other things like:

  • Drinking and driving

  • Smoking dope

  • Robbing banks

  • Rape

  • Speeding

  • Murder

  • Kidnapping

  • Running red lights

I mean, nobody does any of those things since they've been made illegal, right?

Oh, I'm certainly not saying that we shouldn't have laws preventing these -- and other -- things. I'm saying that if one law doesn't stop it, why would another law stop it?

That's the thing about that mentality: pass another law.

You end up with a United Nations that passes resolutions and follows up with more resolutions -- resolutions that rouge nations will just ignore.

You end up with more and more laws that make it harder for law-abiding citizens to do simple things -- laws the criminals are going to ignore anyway.

You end up making a bunch of noise and not solving the problem.

Somebody throw a cigarette butt down in front of you? Hit them in the nose with a newspaper.

Yes, that's what you do with a bad puppy. But most folks that throw cigarette butts on the ground aren't any smarter than a puppy. And not nearly as cute. 

It also give newspapers a purpose.

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