Vice Squad
Monday, January 31, 2005
Smoking in the Illinois Senate

It's always the other guy's vice that requires prohibition. Many a supporter of laws that penalize users of marijuana or cocaine is himself or herself a frequent consumer of alcohol, nicotine, or wagering. It is especially tempting to prohibit the other guy's vice if that other guy is a member of a group that you find to be a little bit shady or criminogenic anyway -- maybe a foreigner or a member of a suspect religion.

But the Illinois Senate goes even one better. They are happy to prohibit their own vice, too -- as long as the ban doesn't apply to them. Smoking is prohibited by law in state-owned buildings in Illinois, except in the occasional, unpleasant "designated smoking rooms." Oh, and in the chambers of the Illinois State Senate. Many senators take advantage of their rare indoor smoking privilege, as do others toiling in this workshop of democracy. The public? Well, as the Athenians explained to the Melians, the strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must: "But visitors in the gallery above [the Senate floor], where several 'no smoking' signs are on display, are restricted to partaking of the habit only second-hand."

I am back from Senegal, where my main accomplishment, alas, was that I managed to be sick. Many thanks to co-blogger Nikkie for keeping things running here at Vice Squad -- especially for relating the dismissal in the Extreme Associates case, which otherwise might have passed me by (my other accomplishment in the last 12 days consisting of being cut off from virtually all news.) Perhaps more on that soon, especially if my health is restored.

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