Positively freedom



Once or twice a year I get up early, haul myself down to the donut shop and get something not good for me. What can I say? We all have our vices, right?

A short time ago I made the trip. Along the way, around 9:15am, I passed a tavern. Out front was a guy leaning against the building not far from the front door. It was a cold, wet, gloomy morning and an arctic 30 degrees (not counting any damn wind chill).

The man was smoking away.

Look on the bright side, I thought. At least I’m not him.

Who says I can’t have positive thoughts? Apparently all of mine come tinged with a wee bit of judgement. Perhaps that’s not ideal but I can live with. It makes the donut that much more delicious. At least I have taste buds.

As you probably know a pharmacy called CVS recently made big news by announcing they were phasing out sales of cigarettes (and other tobacco products) in their stores. Now I don’t know CVS from a hole in the ground. I’ve never been in one. I tend to avoid places like that.

Still, I welcome this bit of news. It feels like a step in the right direction to me. I actually heard something on the news about tobacco companies are hurting due to reduced sales. Is that supposed to be troubling? In the United States sales of cigarettes have reportedly dropped by 31.3 percent from 2003 to 2013.

Some, like me, thinks that’s a pretty good sign.

Then there’s that other group. You know, the people on Twitter who embrace the #boycottcvs hash tag. I guess you could call them the yin to my yang.

Hang on to your hats, space cowboys. It’s time, once again, for the epic battle between good and evil. Anyone know if George Lucas is a smoker?

Monday night we went to dinner. It was the beginning of the big Portland melt. It’s a restaurant called Miho on Interstate. Outside it was freezing, drizzling and slushy. On the front porch a couple sat smoking away. Meanwhile, all the way inside at our cozy table for two, the toxic smell was interfering with the enjoyment of our dinner.

Last night we had dinner downtown at the Blue Moon Cafe & Grill. Again, in the slush, cold and rain, we were amazed to see a couple of women sitting at a sidewalk table and opting to smoke. They were about one foot away from us on the other side of a window. Pleasant ambiance. It’s performance art. “Two Iced Nuts Committing Slow Suicide.”

I get it. Smoking is really important to some folks. It overrides other considerations like frostbite and dry pants.

So what gives with a CVS boycott? We all know by now that when any company takes any position on any issue the villagers will get excited. Some will react by reaching for their wallets. Some will react by lunging for their torches and pitchforks.

In each and every case some will come to praise Caesar. Others, to bury him.

Barilla pasta CEO makes an anti-gay comment? It’s go time.

John Schnatter, the CEO of Papa John’s Pizza, says he’s against Obamacare and the minimum wage? Mobilize!

Chick-Fil-A opposes same sex marriage? Bring on some Culture War duality!

CVS Pharmacy is going to stop selling cigarettes and tobacco? You don’t have to be an Einstein smarty pants to know who this will piss off. The people who buy such things, right?

Wrong. Lots of other folks, too. Who knew?

My first hint came when some, like a blond white woman on FOX News, asked, “Is it OK legally … to restrict tobacco availability in a private store like this? For people who smoke, you know, they have a right to buy cigarettes. It’s not illegal.” Gretchen Carlson, FOX News professional philosopher and thinker.

In retrospect a position like this from these folks isn’t all that surprising. The Culture War is very much a game of  “my way good, your way bad.” Consistently applied rules get in the way of that win objective. In fact, the only way to win the Culture War is to have two sets of rules, and they must be in your favor in both directions at the same time. I call this the two-way one-way street. Just like my dad used to say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Or something like that.

Looking down the #boycottcvs stream, I see complaints about CVS asserting itself as a “nanny.”

This argument seems confusing until you realize, again, that a concept like “freedom” is a smokescreen. (Ha. Get it? Meh!) What they actually want is their way to be the only way, all the time. That’s all.

According to this nanny logic, if you decided to open a privately-owned small business (the proverbial backbone of this country) and sell something like diapers, binkies and baby rattles, you are a goddamned “nanny” if you don’t also carry cigarettes. That makes sense. Totally logical. Nothing to see here.

Free markets and win-win micro transactions are a good in theory, but only when they accomplish things exactly the way you want them to be. If those namby pamby libtards try using those same rules to their advantage, then they’re just a bunch of agenda-driven pussies with their politically correct bullshit. When we do it it’s “principled.” When they do the same thing it’s un-American. Our preachers will tell them to get the hell out. (This means you, atheists.)

This idea of freedom can be extended further, too. You have a right to own guns. For example, you can keep loaded gun in your house for self protection and what not. It’s your property. You have private property rights. They are absolute. You have the right to the Castle Doctrine. (Which I personally support.) But when you take your gun into someone else’s home? If they try to assert their private property rights they’re just a bunch of un-American communists. How dare they? The unmitigated gall!

My rights always trump yours.

Starbucks once tried to take a position on guns in their privately-owned locations. M-O-O-N, that spells “stepped in it,” laws yes! Are you trying to assert you have rights, just like mine? Damn you to Hell!

The Culture War basically works like this: Tell people they have a right. Tell people it applies to everyone. (Hint: It really doesn’t.) Use that right exclusively for yourself to the point of being an offensive asshole whenever you feel like it. Any time someone else tries to assert the same rights, throw the biggest hissy fit of all time using all of the exact same tactics you routinely decry as “liberal bullshit.”

By the way, no one on this planet is going to tell me where I can or cannot blow my second hand poisonous toxic cigarette smoke. Even if I choose to aim it right in your damn face.

Because, that’s my damn freedom!

15 responses

  1. One of the most encouraging stats in American society to me has been that the percentage of smokers is about cut in half since the early 1970s. Good for us, I say.

    I love how the wingnuts can convolute a PRIVATE BUSINESS’ decision to sell or not sell something into an anti-Obama nanny state argument. I thought letting businesses do what they want without interference was the whole point? Of course, the private businesses not wanting to serve same-sex couples on “religious” grounds? Perfectly okay.


    1. I have a blog post planned (i.e. in my head) regarding the so-called “freedom of conscience” argument that’s being bandied about so much these days. I plan to tackle the subject material with my usual grace, style and charm.


  2. I’m afraid it will one day come to having red grocery stores and blue grocery stores. Woe unto those of us who just want a loaf of bread.


    1. But how will we know if you’re buying the RIGHT loaf of bread if you don’t pick a side???
      I mean, you could be buying the wrong bread, and then be in the same neighborhood as children, and corrupt them with your immoral (Select One: _Left / _Right) ways!!!


      1. Good point. It’s time I openly declared my love for pumpernickel.


    2. The real problem, however, is that the situation is not binary. We’re not talking about a single issue here. The grocery stores and other businesses have taken stands on all sorts of things, both publicly (in some cases) and by voting privately with their money.

      To really determine where you should buy that loaf of bread, you’re going to have to create a spreadsheet with 42 tabs prioritizing the issues and scoring businesses on how well they fit with your worldview.

      When done, you can also compare prices, but by then it won’t matter.


  3. I finally managed to cut down to about half a pack a day, and have absolutely no problem with CVS stopping cigarette sales.
    On the other hand, I still haven’t bought Barilla pasta since their statements.

    As a private company, they are entitled to do/say anything they like, as long as it;s legal.
    And I’m entitled to give them my money. Or not.

    On the other hand, stuff like this gives the crazies something to do, so they’re out of my hair, at least for the moment…


    1. Snoring Dog Studio | Reply

      Keep at it, EG. The best thing you can do for your health is to stop smoking. I’m rooting for you.


    2. Grats on cutting down! I’m sincerely impressed. I think I know the herculean effort required. That’s quite an accomplishment.

      By default, I’d say CVS initiated a boycott against themselves. I mean if they no longer sell tobacco products then it’s a pretty safe bet tobacco customers won’t buy their tobacco products there any more, right? That makes any boycott threats at this point rather mute, I’d say.

      We still don’t buy Barilla pasta, either. I had to start a list to keep track of these damn things, but I admit that in the case of John Schnatter that’s not needed. I’ll never forget.

      The crazies are always up to something. One person’s crazy is another person’s will of God.


      1. I haven’t had a problem with Papa John, mostly because I think their food sucks.
        But it’s nice to have a side of moral superiority with my non-order.


      2. My wife thinks their sauce is too sweet. And then there’s that whole “Our ingredients are better but we won’t disclose them” thing. Moral superiority FTW! It’s what keeps me going.


  4. You Lady Liberty on the Beached, man. Right on.


    1. You damn dirty apes!


  5. Snoring Dog Studio | Reply

    Good for CVS. Nanny? The last thing I’d ever want to be is a nanny to a bunch of whining conservatives.


    1. I’ve heard a lot of conservatives claim that only liberals whine. The truth is they do it just as good.


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