Last Sunday, I dropped off DH at Golden Gate Fields to bet on the ponies and drove a few blocks south to the very posh radical chic shopping area of 4th Street in Berkeley where the East Bay Anthropologie store happens to be located. I opted to avoid the congested I-80 both because my rout was so short and because the highway is, well, always congested. And why is I-80 always jammed? Well, to drive from a high-trafficked Golden Gates Field and Target area to a fairly high-trafficked 4th Street one needs to cross Gilman, which is nearly impossible. There is a stop sign on every cross street, but the traffic on Gilman itself practically never ceases. I’m sure there is a back rout I can take, but all I keep thinking about is that somebody out there has to buy the City of Berkeley a traffic light.
The City of Berkeley can’t be bothered with petty issues like traffic, because those involve cars, and cars are not “the people”, and neither are the drivers. Bicycles, on the other hand, those are “the people”. But that, dear readers, is a totally different subject.
The City of Berkeley is preoccupied with significant issues, like whether or not to permit smoking in single family homes — because freedom is something that government allots to individuals. For instance, it’s been agreed that multi-unit residencies public spaces should prohibit smoking. But what does the City Council think about family homes?
A City Council member says a proposal to ban cigarette smoking in apartments and condos, where smoke can waft through ventilation systems, is not tough enough or fair. Councilman Jesse Arreguin says his fellow council members should consider expanding the proposed ban to include single-family homes where children, seniors or lodgers are present. [emphasis mine, --ed.]
Tough and fair, eh? He is a benevolent ruler, little father, the government. Is that the kind of thinking that lead this country to the presidency of Barack Obama?
The above exercise in toughness and fairness is not free of charge, of course. The enforcement of the ban is estimated to cost the city 120K a year, a sum to be offset by a $5 rental unit tax. (Did I mention that the City of Berkeley is the 4th largest employer in the city of Berkeley?) And what will the enforcement look like, exactly? Knocking on doors to make sure nobody is smoking? Or are the tobacco-related issues going to come up once the individuals residing in family homes file for divorce?
Needless to say, marijuana has long been legal in the municipality in question. Several “medical” pot dispensaries are located within it’s limits today, and as early as 1979 the residents passed the initiative that made marijuana law enforcement the lowest police priority, effectively legalizing the drug. Shouldn’t cigarette law enforcement have a lowest priority as well?
Tobacco prohibitionists inflate the dangers of second hand smoke, and, I think, it’s safe to assume that the poorly studied marijuana with its 420 chemical components is probably just as bad for user’s lungs and has the same negligible effect on second hand pot smokers. Plus the later does have psychedelic effects that may or may not be detrimental to user’s well-being in both long- and short-term.
Berkeley smoking laws only make sense as a power grab. Run the white male heterosexists Christian patriarchy out of town while replacing it with it’s own brand of new age control apparatus: “Cigarette smoke? Oh no, can’t have that! Think about minority children! I have to take my clothes to [eco-friendly] dry cleaners every time I pass by a bar where patrons smoke! Oh no! Every time I pass by a smoker, I give him a look! Good thing we have all the stores we need here, on 4th Street, so I don’t have to venture to cities where people have freedoms and such”.
And by the way, I don’t know how Asian students are coping with UC Berkeley’s anti-smoking crusade. Should said students opt to apply to a university friendly to smokers, what will happen to the Cal’s prestigious STEMs programs?
UPDATE: Reblogged on Blackmailers Don’t Soot — thank you!