COLUMN NOTES: Quite a few comments on the newspaper's website on this one. Very entertaining. Also, I have a strange feeling I used this photo before when writing about some other government actions. I guess that shouldn't surprise me though. (Photo is from wikimedia)
HARBESON: Smoking ban is for stooges
> SOUTHERN INDIANA — In what shall forever remain an undisclosed location, except to say it was somewhere in Indiana, I had a wild experience. Upon entering my room, I heard groaning, squealing and slapping sounds coming from next door. So naturally I put my ear against the wall. What I heard shocked me.
I had apparently stumbled upon a secret legislative caucus. I heard three distinct voices and the following is my reproduction of their conversation, as best as I can recall.
Moe: OK guys, looks like we need to pass a statewide smoking ban this year.
Curly: I don’t know Moe. Why can’t nonsmokers just refuse to patronize places that allow smoking?
Moe: Why I oughta poke you in the eyes for saying that! If people took care of themselves, why would they need us?
Larry: Hey guys, look! Now that I’m a legislator, I have almost 5,000 Facebook friends. They love me!
Curly: But Moe, should we really be telling business owners how to run their business?
Moe: That’s not what this is about you numbskull. Pay attention. This is about the health of the employees that work in these places. You don’t want to force them to breathe smoke while at work do you?
Curly: Soitanly not! But why don’t they get another job?
Moe: What’s the matter with you? You want to force those people to leave their jobs?
Curly: Gee, no. But, hey, what if some people lose their jobs because of a government ban?
Moe: They’ll just have to get another job of course.
(At this point I heard a slapping sound.)
Larry: I just put up a Facebook status, “Curly is slapping himself, ha ha.” Whoa, you should see all the “likes” I’m getting!
Moe: Listen Curly, you can’t think in terms of economics. The health of the people is at stake here.
Curly: Well, it would help I guess.
Moe: Attaboy. Now you’re thinking.
Curly: OK then, let’s ban it.
Larry: You mean, let’s “mostly” ban it. We can’t ban smoking in the casinos.
Curly: We can’t?
Moe: Of course not, dimwit. We get tons of revenue from casinos and lots of smokers gamble. So we can’t create a law that could negatively affect the casino business.
Curly: But Moe, I thought it was about health, not economics. What about the employees in the casinos?
Moe: Imbecile! As legislators we have to weigh things differently when government revenue is concerned. You don’t want to be irresponsible do you Curly?
Curly: Soitanly not! But I thought we were taking responsibility for people by banning smoking everywhere.
Moe: Geez, you just don’t get it. Listen, government revenue from casinos helps provide important government services.
Curly: Like gambling boats?
Moe: Yes. Wait, no. I mean like paying us to write new laws to fix problems.
Curly: OK, I get it. We need to keep people smoking.
Moe: Yes. What? No, we need to keep people gambling. No, wait, what I mean is that we need to give people the freedom to gamble and smoke.
Curly: In government approved areas.
Moe: Now you’ve got it.
Larry: Hey guys, I just changed my status update to “about to head off to lunch.” Wow, lots of people commenting on where we should go. I didn’t even know there was a restaurant called Hell. I wonder if smoking is allowed there.
Moe: Pipe down you slug! We still have one more item on our agenda. There’s a problem with that law we passed last year that forces businesses to card 80-year-old wine drinkers.
Curly: Yeah, we better create another law to fix that or everyone’s going to think we’re just a bunch of stooges.
— Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson swears she isn’t really in the habit of putting her ear against walls. She much prefers peepholes.