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28 April 2009

Aiken's Unfortunate Consensus

On 18 July 2008 the Aiken Standard ran a piece of mine, a simple letter to the editor.  Aiken's City Council had recently passed a smoking ban in restaurants and bars downtown, a measure I opposed.  I was therefore prompted to write this--admittedly polemical--piece.

Please note:  I myself am not a smoker.  I believe that it is a repulsive habit and has serious health risks.  At the same time, there are many establishments that thrive on smokers' business.  Additionally, smokers are well aware of the risks they are taking.

Smokers have been villainized for far too long.  This villainization has cut across political boundaries and has become a bipartisan issue.  The problem with this state of affairs is that we are now seeing the same attitudes toward the obese as we have been seeing toward smokers.  Obesity, like smoking, is simultaneously being treated as a disease and as a moral shortcoming.  As a portly fellow myself, I recognize the long-term health problems that come from obesity; however, I also recognize that being overweight is not some sort of disease.  With hard work and determination, an obese person can lose weight and a smoker can quit smoking.

Cancer is a disease.  You can't just work your way out of cancer.  Obesity and smoking are not diseases, and should not be treated as such.

And now, without further adieu, the unfortunately-titled "Can different people co-exist?" (Kudos to the Aiken Standard's terrible copy editing):

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