First they came for the menthols…

Courtesy: Chris MaddenThis Tuesday, April 5, I get to flex my democratic muscle once again. Love it! I’m pumped, even though my stance on one of the issues has drawn the ire of the other members of my household. I’ll explain.

One ballot measure, according to Springfield News-Leader reporter Amos Bridges, “would outlaw smoking indoors almost everywhere except private homes and vehicles, as well as outside in playgrounds and within 5 feet of prohibited areas.” I plan to vote “No” on this issue.

Full disclosure: I’m not a smoker. It’s been a good year since I’ve used tobacco of any kind, and there was another significant gap before that. And, contrary to the views of the News-Leader’s editorial board, I do understand that “the freedom of one person to smoke infringes on the personal liberty of others.” I also understand the health risk posed by tobacco use – even incredibly limited use like mine. I’m not denying that, like some opponents of the ban are (which I think is pretty ridiculous). To me this isn’t a public health issue. It’s a personal freedom issue.

I don’t mind outlawing smoking in bars and restaurants, hospitals and colleges, even playgrounds. That’s fine. What concerns me is the bill doesn’t allow exceptions for certain businesses, including tobacco shops. Supporters of the ban claim they are protecting workers and members of the public from the risks associated with secondhand smoke. That’s good. Most people, at some point, find it necessary to go into a restaurant or, even, take a job there. They shouldn’t have to be bombarded with secondhand smoke.

But a tobacco business, like Just for Him or The Albatross, isn’t like a restaurant. The average citizen could go their entire life and never set foot inside of those places, and the average citizen wouldn’t seek out employment in such a specialized shop unless they were interested in the product. Selling tobacco is perfectly legal, and the secondhand smoke in those businesses isn’t bothering anyone who doesn’t want to be bothered. But if the ordinance passes, both of those places will be forced to go smoke free, and The Albatross is likely out of business.

I don’t want to be responsible for that. Restrictions to protect public health are fine, but, when they force legal businesses to shut down, the civil libertarian in me gets uncomfortable, so I’m voting no. That means, according to the QCFW, I’m currently living in a house divided.

I’m also voting no on the ban on alcohol in family theaters. The News-Leader editorial board has my back on this one, calling it “unreasonable, and likely unenforceable.” This ballot measure seems aimed at Campbell 16 Cine, which has no history of troubles with alcohol. This, like the smoking ban, feels like an overreach.

But that’s just my opinion. Whatever your opinion is, make sure it’s heard Tuesday.


Another brick in my old man wall


courtesy "Married to the Sea"


I know I’m late to the party on this, but it’s too good to pass up…

I’m sure Eric Ramsey dreamed of the day he’d become a high school principal. He probably imagined the way the building would look, the relationships he’d form with his teachers and all of the children’s lives he’d shape and transform. He probably never imagined telling the local newspaper

“They can stand in the grind positions, they can stand with their partner behind them but they can’t break any of the rules.”

But there was the Parkview High School principal in the Springfield News-Leader Sept. 29, explaining that to reporter Claudette Riley in an article detailing the “mixed” reaction to Springfield Public Schools’ new rules for dances. These rules fall under the category of “What, you have to tell kids that?!?!?!?!?” For instance, students can’t simulate sex acts or thrust. Nor can they “run their hands under their partner’s clothing or touch breasts, buttocks or genital areas.”

Ohmygosh, I gotta sit down for a second. Kids were doing that? In a high school dance? This is making me feel like an old man.

Or at least it did, until I remembered what dances were like the last time I was a high school student before the turn of the century. And now that I think about it, I think I saw several of those things at my high school dances. Not everyone was doing it, of course, and the ones doing it without fail were the last people you would want to see copping a feel on the dance floor. Ugh.

The “mixed reaction” to the rules, unlike what KSGF’ Nick Reed said on his radio show, wasn’t because people didn’t like the restrictions. The problem was with enforcement. Some students felt like they didn’t get enough of a warning. That’s totally fair. Kids aren’t stupid. Most of them will stay within the rules as long as they understand them and the process of enforcement. Staff at Parkview – which ejected 15 dancers – met with students to discuss concerns and address ways to make the next dance better for everyone. Basically, the system worked the way it should.

Not to be gross, but groping and grinding has become a part of the process of sexual exploration that a lot of teenagers go through. It’s pretty normal, and despite what they may think, they’re not the first generation to go through this. And while those activities may be more acceptable on the homecoming dance floor now than when they were when I was a teenager, they’re still gross and administrators still have a responsibility to tell those kids to knock it off.

There’s another responsible party involved here, the parents and guardians of the students. My oldest will be a high schooler in just five years, and I have a big say in whether or not she’ll be one of the 15 ejected from her high school dance (over my dead body) or if she’s like well-spoken PHS senior Tiffany Moyers.

“It’s really sad that the rules have to be that specific, like we’re in elementary school,” she told the News-Leader. “We ought to know how to act.”

Oh Lawd, let me raise a daughter like that.