Secondhand smoke kills. There is no safe level of secondhand smoke. The debate is over. Conform and comply or be destroyed.
Minnesota attorney Mark W. Benjamin has repeatedly asked health officials, and particularly Health Department poobah John Stine, to debate the issue of smoking bans and the legality of the "Theatre Night" movement which exploits an exemption allowing smoking in theatrical productions. Hospitality venues such as taverns are staging productions in which all patrons are assigned roles. This allows everyone to smoke.
Given the vagueness of the law as written the theatre night movement gives every appearance of perfect legality. Thus the law has not so far intervened. Threatening letters have however been issued by the Minnesota Department of Health to business owners suspected of participating in the theatre night movement.
Our long familiarity at FORCES with the worldwide antitobacco movement makes this unsurprising. Mark Benjamin is not likely to get his public debate. If he does he will be stonewalled with alarmist rhetoric and personal invective. Antitobacco incessantly chants that "the debate is over," and for the fanatical prohibitionists, indeed it is, in fact it never took place. The conclusion that smokers must be eradicated from society is beginning and end and all in all to antitobacco. Dissent, heresy in their eyes, must simply be crushed.
The Health Department will continue threatening. It will use its muscle. Some will be intimidated more quickly than others. The end is all and all law is mere technicality in the minds of our modern eugenicists. The Minnesota law will be tweaked as and if necessary. This should have happened already if the prohibitionists really respected the specifics of well-written law. They do not. They respect nothing but their own power to humiliate and intimidate.
Antitobacco is marshalling its resources. It is contemptuous of debate, but likewise fearful of it, and also fearful of massive confrontation. Its greatest success has come in evoking acquiescence through fear of its power. It always claims total success and satisfaction with its smoking bans. In fact it tolerates an underground of defiance in most areas, so long as highly visible hospitality locales comply, and so long as it can pounce on individual offenders willy-nilly while simultaneously maintaining that illusion of full and blissful compliance.
"Theatre Night" was guaranteed a short run from the beginning. Through threats, manipulation, and whatever legal maneuvers necessary, it will be subdued unless, and only unless, sufficient force of blatant defiance, with or without a veneer of legality, together with massive protest, are mounted with forceful perseverance. "Theatre Night" has been a successfully exploited loophole. It’s a good beginning. The time for laughter, and dressing up, is however coming to a close. The next act must be played very realistically.
"Secondhand smoke kills," incessantly spouted and endorsed by prohibitionist authorities, is in fact specious and wildly irresponsible rhetoric, the hate speech of fanatics. There is no dangerous level of secondhand smoke, and never has been, in any ordinary situation of living, in one’s home or elsewhere. Debate with monoscopic and stonewalling tyrants is moot. Antitobacco is an intolerant force which must be taken down with every form and nature of force necessary. When a sufficient mass of people ceases to tolerate vicious oppression, and acts with strategically effective, righteous and indomitable force, the oppression shall be broken. Not before.
The strong-arm is in use. Authorities still have not issued citations for theatre night presentations since these presentations do appear in accord with the law as written. The lack of a written legal basis, as usual, does not deter those who wish to enforce a policy which has no fundamental basis in terms of reason or fairness. They simply put on the jackboot. Without specific citation, bar owners are being told they may become liable for ruinous fines, and that their licenses may be "reviewed." This arm-twisting is being initiated at the state level, with greater or lesser assists from local authorities, depending on the level of trepidation and corruption present in those quarters. The Associated Press, in an article appearing Friday, 14 March, reports on a case in point. Click here for the AP article: (Article) (stored version)
Reporter Kristine Goodrich of Vadnais Heights News also notes the apparent legality of "Theatre Nights" as practiced, the reluctance to ban enforcement on such quicksand legal ground, the substitution of jackboot tactics, and the determination of attorney Mark Benjamin to confront such fascism. Click here for this article: (Article) (stored version)
A quote from the AP article cited above — "John Stieger, a spokesman for the Health Department, said Thursday the agency didn’t know how many bars had stopped putting on theater nights since the threatened crackdown. He said the agency hoped a combination of local law enforcement and the threat of fines would put an end to them." — reinforces that crude and vicious intimidation by any means is the knee-jerk response of the jackboot types. To date, we know of no formal attempt simply to reword the theatrical exemption in the law, or as simply abolish the exemption. The smoking ban is a moral injustice in toto. Closing the theatrical loophole would be in accordance with the basic injustice of the policy. Alarmed and corrupted legislators who supported the original travesty should be expected to support simple clarification of their oppression. Why don’t the prohibitionists tweak the law? Because they are, by nature, bullies and brats. They want what they want, now, on their terms, and they intend to get it through outright bullying. If it becomes absolutely unavoidable the bastards will get around to legal technicality at some point, but they hope not to be bothered, they have not the patience at the moment for inevitable legislative delay, and they may well fear that re-opening legislative debate could work to their disadvantage at this point. Indeed some representatives are beginning, just beginning, to consider the interests of affected constituents, and the cause of reason. While "public health" conspicuously avoids public debate with Mark Benjamin or anyone else — we see the same reaction of "hiding under the desk" now from municipal arm-twisters as exemplified in another quote from the AP article: "Maplewood City Attorney Alan Kantrud did not immediately respond Thursday to an Associated Press call seeking comment." — and also avoids the formality of spelling out their oppression in the law, a few state representatives are now introducing modifications to soften the ban. These modifications are by no means sufficient, and their ultimate disposition is unknowable at this point, but they are very certainly along the lines of a ban rollback. The Healthists have got trouble in the legislature. They can be counted on for now to keep threatening bar owners in a technically ungrounded, coercive and legally corrupt manner, while raising more hysterics, to halt any introduction of sanity in the legislature. Anti is used to getting what she wants when she wants it. As we have said, all law is mere technicality, to those who pursue fascism. If the jackboot works a clarification of the theatrical exemption may be overlooked indefinitely. In the meantime, those legislators who are presenting further exemptions and ban softenings, can expect hysterical denunciation and personal invective, from the Healthist camp. Authors of the ban-softening House Bill are representatives Howes, Rukavina, Otremba, Emmer, and Solberg. The essentially identical Senate Bill was submitted by Senator Skoe. Both bills were entered for consideration on Thursday 13 March. To view the House submission click here: (Original) (stored version). To view the essentially identical Senate submission click here: (Original) (stored version).
We are receiving many reports from activists on the ground in Minnesota. Pressure is being placed on municipal officials by prohibitionist forces at the state level. They know the theatre nights are not illegal. Nevertheless cities are being threatened with loss of state aid if they do not coöperate with intimidation plans. There are occurring, resultantly, attempts at spontaneous redefinition of theatrical productions with no basis in law. Threats of white-glove health inspections, covering general sanitation, utility systems and the like, as opposed to smoking specifically, are coming from some cowed local governments. Likewise, sudden reviews of liquor licenses, again on tangential grounds, are being wielded as threats. Attorney Benjamin comments: "It has nothing to do with authority. It has everything to do with power. Cities rely on state aid and don’t want to anger any influential legislators who might have something to say about it in the future. It’s all about payback." Activists are investigating the sources of this institutional corruption. Mark Benjamin adds: "We won’t take this lying down and will continue to take the fight to those who hide in the shadows and refuse to engage us in a court of law or in the court of public opinion." For some on-the-ground perspective from concerned activists please click here.