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View Diary: Stop the Expansion of the U.S.A. Patriot Act (80 comments)

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  •  The difference being, (none)
    of course, the Harm Principle, ala John Stuart Mill. Second hand smoke has been proven to be very bad for you. But we still allow smoking. You just have to find a way to do it that doesn't hurt anyone else. Same with drugs. You want to do drugs, fine with me, just don't do them in a way that could harm others.

    Basically, I really don't care what people do as long as they don't hurt me.

    The problem with the Patriot Act is that it tries to pre-emptively stop harm by restricting freedom. This has many problems, not the least of which is what happens when the government is wrong about someone. That's why we have the 4th amendment (and the fifth, et al) - to not allow the Government to intrude in hopes of finding a crime, like your drug testing example.

    •  I agree with you (none)
       The "harm principal" can apply in both of my examples, but does not necessarily apply in all of the cases where law has been used. The reason that I mentioned them is the arguments that libertarians make aren't alway as easy to toss off as the previous comment implied.
    •  Being a libertarian-minded individual... (none)
      I think you're glossing over the real differences.

      • Your initial analogy on Second Hand smoke is good, but the science backing the harm claim is not so good - it's junk science by a lot of folks with an axe to grind.  Even in the airline attendants cases, the epidemiology is just not that good; that danger is dogmatically accepted by smoking opponents.  Most people would agree that inhaling any smoke is not good for you, but it's like the fear of airplane crashes - the risk may not be any worse than what you inhale from your car's tailpipe walking around the back of the car.

      • You punt on the drugs issue - the original commenter is quite right - you may not personally care who does drugs, but the government most certainly does, and until the WoT, the WoD was the spearhead for giving LE free reign over our civil liberties.  Yes, the 4th has been gutted, and the recent SCOTUS ruling that dog-sniffs are "not searches in the meaning of the fourth" but can create the PC to allow officers to then get past the fourth is the effective destruction of the Fourth.  
      •  Well, that was a fake punt... (none)
        I believe in making all drugs legal. You don't get much more libertarian than that.

        As for second hand smoke, you're just wrong. I use the same argument about why we can regulate tailpipe emissions. They harm me. The harm may be small, but it's cumulative, and like with so many things, second hand smoke hurts children the most.

        Furthermore, second hand and side-stream smoke contains all kinds of nasty chemicals. We regulate many of them when they come out of smokestacks. Why not out of your cigarette?

        Basically, I think the Democrats can win over libertarians by fighting for freedom on things that it's a lot harder to prove harm on, like someone doing drugs, or what I read at the library, or a reasonably person owning a gun.

        Also, pre-emptive strikes at people who meet some profile also have inherent problems when it comes to effectiveness. You wind up with a lot of false positives when you arrest someone because he's reading about Che Guevera.

        •  A debate I can't win, but... (none)
          montpellier is right about it mostly being junk science.  I see that you linked to the EPA's website for reference.  The EPA's report on second-hand smoke that they released back in the 90's has been proven wrong.  The numbers they report are just flat out falsehoods.  Call me a "tin-foiler" or whatever but I've done the research.  Yes, smoke in most forms is bad for you to some degree, but like montpellier stated, it's not going to accumulate enough to cause major harm.  At least if you compare it to the air you breath in most major urban areas nowdays.

          So, how about a compromise instead of outright banning it in every public place (such as L.A., I hate that I can't smoke in a bar or club)?  Leave it up to individual establishments to decide whether to ban or section off smoking as they do in a lot of other places.  It's called choice.  If you don't like the smell of smoke (let's be honest, that's what a lot of the fuss about) or you truly believe it's going to give you cancer at some point in your life for being around it, then don't go there!  Not trying to "flame," I just think I deserve to have some rights on this issue as well as non-smokers.

          "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." -Gandhi

          by midvalley on Mon Nov 14, 2005 at 02:12:14 PM PST

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          •  Hey, I'm an x smoker (4.00)
            and I really don't care if you're smoking near me, assuming the ventilation is good. I've always seen this as an architectural/engineering problem. Most buildings, especially old ones, don't have good ventilation.

            The point of linking to the EPA is that the damage to children is greater.

            Also, there is the difference between second-hand, or what comes back out after your lungs have filtered it, and side-stream. A lot of the time, second hand is used for both, and in some of the studies that you aren't linking to, they only study the breathed smoke, not the side-stream.

            •  Beating a dead horse: I am an ex-smoker too... (none)
              ..well, I still have a cigar on the weekend.

              My stance comes from looking at the numbers - I'm a chemist by training - and we have a well understood and accepted approach to impurities - we just call 'em insignificant factors and drop them from equations.  That is, certain concentrations of any compound/molecule/atom are so vanishingly small as to not contribute significantly - certainly orders of magnitude less than the error terms in any measurements.  

              The second hand smoke study methodologies don't really even deal with the ppm question well.  Yes, I'm sure you can find some really nasty stuff in high concentration RIGHT NEXT TO THE BURNING ember.  How often is a smoker holding the tip of the cigarette under your nose (and I mean close enough to singe your nosehairs)? Since the human nose is one hell of a chemical detector, I'd be interested in seeing just some concentration numbers for a given compound in a real-world test.  That is, put a cigarette on one side of a building entranceway, and then, say 10 ft. away, put a detector.  Just show me the benzene (major cig. carcinogen) numbers that the dector picks up.  Is it enough to even differentiate from the background noise?  I don't know for sure either, but I'm betting you can't even pick it up.  

              When you find that people breathing low concentrations of 'side stream' smoke have higher disease rates than people who breath the same smoke directly at far higher concentrations something is way wrong - it points to there being a negative correlation with smoke particle concentration.  I think that the data have been massaged and methodology badly flawed.  Either that, or smoke isn't causing the disease at all.  

              The second-hand smoke research is somebody seeking data to support their conclusions - real science doesn't work that way.  We collect data, and then see what theory is suggested.  Then we do a negation test, if possible.  In this case, the express purpose of such studies is to get around the libertarian argument - basically deliberately creating a compelling interest for regulation.    

              I still firmly believe there are environmental factors out in our air, unregulated, which FAR exceed side-stream tobacco smoke, as carcinogens.   I definitely support regulating this stuff, on the basis of what presents a meaningful threat, based on objective science (vs. results-oriented).

              The EPA report was debunked.  This is junk science by would-be prohibitionists, who seek to operate like the anti-abortion death-by-a-thousand-cuts state regulations, and the BS spun by the NIDA on behalf of the DEA claiming pot is way more potent these days and therefore dangerous.  

              I don't think I should have a cigar in my kid's nusery when I have a kid, and I won't light up indoors around you or yours.  Outside you may smell it, but the concentrations are WAY too low to be meaningful.  

              In a vaccum I agree with you: the harm principle must be invoked - that is what creates compelling interest on the government's part for intervening and regulating my state of nature freedoms - I think we are both reasonably libertarian on that and agree.  

              I don't believe second hand smoke rises to the standard.

              Crack Cocaine, like predatory lending, probably does.  

              These are judgement calls - not black and white.  I stick by my statements.  

        •  because one is the behaviour of a person (none)
          The other the act of a commercial i.e. publicly responsible entity.

          "Furthermore, second hand and side-stream smoke contains all kinds of nasty chemicals. We regulate many of them when they come out of smokestacks. Why not out of your cigarette?"

          A company is soliciting the public and are responsible for whatever they produce. I ain't tryin' to do nothing to nobody. I'm just walking around trying not to hurt anyone. if I hurt someone I fix it. I'm Accountable and responsible.

          In closing I leave you with one word: Dow

          "The pen is mightier than the sword, but only at a range of greater than five feet" Malaclypse the Younger

          by buhdydharma on Mon Nov 14, 2005 at 05:01:18 PM PST

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