So there I sit in my editing bay working on a project when I hear next door discussion of a wholly supported smoking ban proposed here at Dixie State College.
As a non-smoker, I’m sure I’m just as guilty as most of us when the thought, “Who cares?” passes through our minds. If we banned people from eating Thai food on campus, I really wouldn’t mind that much, and the same thought would come around of “Who really cares?”
Well, the second thought to come to me was that of a disappointing, “I knew it,” “It had to happen sometime” and “What a shock.”
Let’s be honest with each other here. Like it or not, this is Utah and some of the values from residents and elected officials will inevitably make their way into laws and basic social structure. Here’s where I’d like the readers to draw some contrast: laws and rights.
Laws tell us what we can and cannot do to maintain order in society. Rights are established by society so that no law may take away said rights through an ordinance.
Well, it doesn’t take a smoker to see the rights of the few are being infringed by the law made by the many. Those proposing this smoke-free campus hold up a strong, and many would agree, practical excuse for such a ban. That excuse is ever so noble, and therefore perfectly acceptable: public health dangers related to secondhand smoke. Sure, sounds reasonable. It’s nothing to do with morals or some sort of ulterior motive. The ban is merely imposed for public health and safety. Airtight, am I right? Let’s look at some other rules imposed.
We have also banned pornography and drinking alcohol from campus and official student housing, so what’s the public health risk there? What is the excuse deemed acceptable to serve one purpose, but unacceptable for the other ordinances? Secondhand beer fumes? Naked lady carcinogens?
We already have laws and safeguards in place to keep people underage from drinking, smoking and viewing pornography at an inappropriate age. In fact, there’s even more enforced ordinances for smoking within a proximity of public entrances and doors.
Is it really health reasons driving these things? No. Are we to see these laws and rules pop up around us and think, “Oh, it’s mere coincidence, it’s not religiously influenced?”
This is religion intermingling in state affairs, which Thomas Jefferson would oppose. Let’s ban all the things our religion says not to do. Nobody will care about a smoking ban since it’s unhealthy in the first place.
But we came to a 99 percent vote in favor, you may say. However, we have rights in place to ensure the majority cannot merely impose any law they deem fit based on a vote. It’s those same guaranteed rights that allow review of the constitutionality of Obamacare instead of passing it on the basis of the majority vote. These same professors and students that bolster the majority rule as reason alone for banning smoking on campus are quick to deny it with anything conflicting their viewpoints. Take Obamacare and global warming’s majority consensus into consideration.
The feeling I get, based on the laws and ordinances enforced in the state of Utah and its towns, universities and colleges, is that when presented with free will and choice, those of us who are of the LDS faith will choose to drink, smoke and view pornography despite what we tell them to do in our churches and temples. It’s the majority’s lack of control of its own flock that drives these unbiased laws in this state and population as a whole.
This is a public college. Until it is private, you have to be fair to the full range of students and personnel. When private, sure, impose the rules you deem fit to control the people in your group.
The majority is not the end-all solution for “This is why you can do this and not that.” We dress it up as democracy when really it comes down to 58 percent of people deciding how the 100 percent should live.
As long as Utah is a state of the United States of America, I will not allow the rights of the few to be pushed aside in exchange for the wishes of the majority.
Cory Carter, a senior communication major from Sandusky, Ohio, and card-carrying member of the ACLU (in charge of upholding the Constitution and ensuring the rights of all Americans).