Thursday, November 03, 2005

READER RESPONSE -- Here’s what I mean: Why "Devil's Weed" is a good thing

Posted by Craig Westover | 10:43 AM |  

In response to my column this week on the documentary “Devil’s Weed” opening up the debate on the smoking ban, I received an email from a reader. He wrote --
Lots going on with the smoking bans. I've been reading your columns. That one with all the numbers and formulas was way above me, but my position is firmly in support of the bans. But, I've been reading and listening. So, tell me if my thinking is naive or not. I'm not a writer, so bear with me as I try and get my points across.
He then listed six questions about smoking bans that touched on the idea of majority rule, whether a “ban” was really a ban at all or merely an “inconvenience,” and why bans were being discussed in so many places if secondhand smoke wasn’t a health hazard and other equally perceptive questions.

In other words, unlike the paid professionals supporting smoking bans, this reader was was willing to engage in a discussion. He was willing to question his his own position and test it against another opinion -- just like this blog does when it opens for comments and links to opposing opinions. I owed it to him to respond, not by preaching to him, but by responding directly to his points. Here is his reply.
Thank you for taking serious time to write back, that itself is pretty impressive. You bring up points I had never really thought about before. The bar owners are so emotional over this, they can't get the message across like you do. Many thanks, I'll keep reading. no response necessary
Did I convince him? Maybe, maybe not, but if I didn’t, his position in favor of bans is stronger and more solid because he’s taken what I said and incorporated it into his thinking, addressed my points and come up with arguments that he feels are stronger. He hasn't just bought into a bunch of unsupported statistics. He has real arguments, not simply obstinate resistance.

This is the kind of debate that the attitude “the smoking ban has been debated enough” would stifle. That was the point of my column. This reader response is further evidence of why something like “Devil’s Weed” is healthy for the intellectual environment.

Category: READER RESONSE, Smoking Ban