I am a conservative, and I oppose most initiatives that require significant discretionary spending and impose greater government interference in the lives of Americans. This includes the campus smoking ban set to take effect in July. I found Timothy Hall’s piece (A burdensome ban, 1/31/2011), however, to be a little over the top.
Setting aside the flawed intimation that President Mary Sue Coleman decided to pursue this initiative for personal economic gain, it was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quest to gain the most basic civil rights for African Americans alongside that of the mild inconvenience smokers on campus will face beginning this summer that struck me as objectionable. I know Hall didn’t equate these two things directly, but even an indirect association is overly dramatic, not to mention disrespectful to those who actually endured maltreatment in decades past.
The time has come to put the smoking ban into perspective. Not to give up on pursuing a stop to it if that’s the goal, but to at least consider how valuable our time spent on this issue really is. On so many days in this paper’s opinion section, I have read two or three thought-provoking, well-reasoned pieces — and then yet another piece about the smoking ban that essentially repeats what has already been said. Whether or not smoking is allowed on campus, the University offers an incredibly wide variety of viewpoints and opportunities. It would be foolish to allow the space consumed by an issue like this to prevent us from taking advantage of them.