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My Way

Hospital's policy another step on the road to smoke-free serfdom

February 13, 2013 - Whenever A annoys or injures B on the pretense of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel." – H.L. Mencken

I wish I could go one day without reading or hearing about how someone somewhere is attempting to – or succeeding at – stifling individual liberty.

Case in point, a major Oakland County hospital announced last week it will no longer hire people who use nicotine products.

The hospital's policy states that job applicants will be tested for tobacco as part of the regular drug screening process.

The policy does not apply to current employees of this hospital.

But don't get too comfortable existing employees because I'm sure that will change at some point and you'll be bullied into giving up tobacco as well.

If history has taught us anything, it's that those who seek to persecute and control others pick off small groups one at a time until there's nobody left to speak out and soon everyone's under thumb.

It's one thing to tell employees or prospective employees they can't smoke in the workplace. I'm perfectly fine with that. Work is for work, not for recreation or relaxation.

But it's quite another to dictate what they can and can't do during their personal time.

It's just plain wrong to tell people they can't utilize a legal product in their own home if they want to be hired or keep their job. Yes, despite what you may have heard, tobacco is still legal – for the moment.

I realize that smokers are probably the last group in America that not only is it socially acceptable to discriminate against, it's actually encouraged by everyone from the government to busybody, do-gooder activist groups.

After all, telling people what to do is not considered anti-liberty or anti-American if it's for their own good.

In fact, meddling in other people's lives is a tradition that dates back to the Puritans and their Draconian ways.

You see most people are just too darn stupid to make their own decisions when it comes to things like smoking, eating, drinking, gun ownership, wearing a seat belt, who to marry or date, what movies or television shows to watch, what video games to play, what words we use to express ourselves, etc.

That's why we need folks like the Health Police, the Moral Majoritarians, the Politically Correct and all the other anti-freedom extremists on both the Left and Right who seek to impose their values and their way of life on all of us.

Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone made their own choices, did what makes them happy, didn't try to force others to believe and act as they do and minded their own business?

That would be . . . wonderful, simply wonderful.

But that's not the world we live in and it never will be because there are always going to be folks who believe they know better than everyone else, therefore we all must bend to their tyrannical will.

I say if this hospital – and all the other hospitals that have implemented similar discriminatory policies – is really serious about not hiring people with unhealthy habits or hobbies, they shouldn't limit their intolerance to smokers.

There should be a policy that prohibits hiring people who are overweight, who have high cholesterol or who have too much red meat in their system.

There should be a policy against hiring folks who don't exercise regularly or who consume alcohol.

There should be a policy against hiring sexually promiscuous people because they have a higher risk of contracting a disease. There should be a policy against hiring people who engage in activities with an elevated risk of injury or death such as rock-climbing or skydiving.

If we're going to control people's lives and trample their rights in name of health and rising insurance costs, by all means, let's not stop at smoking.

Let's control everything everyone does all the time.

Oh, that's right, we're already headed that way.

I'm reminded of the chilling warning issued by Alexis de Tocqueville in his seminal 19th century book "Democracy in America" – "It must not be forgotten that it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life. For my own part, I should be inclined to think freedom less necessary in great things than in little ones, if it were possible to be secure of the one without possessing the other.

"Subjection in minor affairs breaks out every day, and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their own will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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