Cigarettes and Hypocrites

Three items I happened upon this week that I feel the need to rant about:

1. Smoking Ban in Public Housing

A recent article in the last issue of this paper talked about a plan in Boston to ban smoking in public housing. Now as a person who has his share of problems quitting smoking, I know full well the benefits of kicking the habit. But with due respect to the Mayor of Boston and others who back a smoking ban in public housing, don’t you folks across the bridge have more pressing issues? Such as making sure that people can walk down a street or run a business without needing to worry about getting shot? I’m sure that these are more important problems than telling people what they can and cannot do in the privacy of their own homes.

Not to mention that you’re stepping on people’s civil liberties. Now I know what you dear readers are going to say: that the benefits of a ban outweigh the rights of others who smoke. Wrong. How in the hell is controlling what someone does in his or her own home beneficial, and who does it benefit really? Does it actually benefit someone’s health or does it just garner a few hundred votes for the politicians who are backing this absurd measure?

On paper the whole thing reeks of discrimination. Think about it, how many people above the poverty line do you know who live in subsidized housing? Not many. Now I know the Mass. Dept. of Public Health will wow us all with stats on how second smoking affects children. True, if the parents smoke outside, it’s a good thing, and people should be educated on the dangers of smoking to their little ones. But the government shouldn’t be telling me that it’s against the law to smoke in my own home, it just isn’t right.

2. The Priest Scandal, Part 2

Well it really isn’t part 2. In fact, since the first whispers of Catholic priests molesting children started a few years ago, the accusations have never stopped. Almost every other month or so we hear of a trusted member of the cloth who for years behind closed doors has violated the trust of God, the church, and the community in which he served. The latest accusations are threatening to reach all the way to the Pope himself. How much did he know and when did he know it? (This all came about before he attained the Papal throne).

The Church’s response is typical, blaming the media and whoever else happens to be there. I’m not a big fan of organized religion, but I won’t condemn it either. What I do have a problem with is members of the Catholic leadership who hide behind it. The Vatican continues to put its head in the sand when it comes to the sex abuse issue. They will be quick to jump to the forefront and condemn homosexuality, but when it comes to their own priests molesting children they make excuses.

Heck, they’re almost like politicians: “Hey we can criticize others, but no one can criticize the Church.” Maybe it’s finally time for the millions of Catholics around the world to have a say in who their leaders should or shouldn’t be. Then maybe we can get some answers. Then maybe the victims of sexual abuse by clergy can get some justice and some relief.

3. Tea Party Racism

Much has been written and discussed about how Tea Party members hurled racist and homophobic words at members of Congress the weekend of the health care reform vote. There was a time in the very beginning when I actually thought that this new “party” might be relevant. But I was wrong.

The Tea Party crowd is nothing more than a bunch of cowardly bullies who are no better than the ones on Facebook that led to the recent tragic death of a Massachusetts girl. They hide behind so-called political beliefs and claims that they are the real Americans. They allege that their rights are being trampled on. Nothing can be further from the truth. Tea Partiers are nothing more than a bunch of Joe the Plumbers who are looking for their 15 minutes and are willing to do or say anything in order to get it.

But if you really want to lay blame and discover where this all began, we need look no further than the last presidential campaign. These are the folks who people like Sarah Palin and her ilk created by spreading falsehoods about Obama. The Tea Party is an extension of that. This crowd was created out of fear, hatred, and outright lies. So what should be done about them? Nothing, let them rant and rave and scream.

At some point they will realize no one’s listening (except maybe Glen Beck). At some point they will realize that the Republican Party cares nothing about the Tea Partiers. In fact, after this incident, some Republicans are already seeing them as a liability. When the time comes, they will all go back to their trailer parks and resume watching repeats of the Dukes Of Hazzard.

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.

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