JEFFERSON COUNTY, KANSAS.  Something is not right on The Porch.  But on my porch, things are just dandy, so smoke ’em if you got ’em boys! 

Puff puff puff and if the lung ‘C’ gets ya, tell St. Peter he’ll just have ta wait while you smoke smoke smoke that cigarette.

On the other hand, Rod Dreher says: “I Love Smoking Bans.”

And in the comments, Russell Arben Fox says he can’t wait until the new prohibitionists get around to the old prohibition and ban the demon rum again!

I feel it’s my moral duty to step up and put the brakes on this new prohibitionary impulse gaining ground on a certain corner of The Porch.  I’ve seen the raw milk prohibitionists and the anti-smoke prohibitionists chum right up to one another in the lobby of our State Capital, sweaty and shiney-cheeked with neopuritanical zeal and burbling over with thrilling explanations of new legislation being introduced to make sure no one is doing anything without a bend of the knee and a doff of the brow to the State with a ‘Mother-may-I’ first!

By the way, that photo above of me enjoying a fine backwoods roll was taken in my office — the office of the chief law enforcement official of Jeff Co., KS. — at least one redoubt of American chutzpah amid the genuflecting hordes.  Puff on that neoprohibitionists!

The old timers at the court house talk about the great trials that have passed into legend, and they all are given ambience by the cigar chomping defense counsel and cigarette ash trays on the juror’s chairs.

One crafty old war horse used to stick a paperclip deep into his cigar.  During the Prosecutor’s most compelling evidence, he’d let the stogey burn down over the edge of the ash tray until the ash grew to an inch, and two-inches, thus diverting the jury to rapt attention on his cigar and wondering just when that ash would drop!

I also blame air conditioning.  When was the last time you were in a public place with the windows open?  Inhumane!  No wonder people want to ban smoking.  I’ll tell you what, how about we ban air conditioning!  I can get down with that.

The old timers remember when no trial or legal wrangling would go past 1pm because it was too damn hot!  The judge and parties would retire to tobacco, beers and steak at the bar and when they emerged the case was settled.  Case loads were kept in check by mother nature.  Who can be litigious when it’s 100degrees in the shade?  Now there’s some natural limits we ought to appreciate.  On the other hand, people tend to bicker endlessly when they live in bubbles.

Justice and joy both suffer from our shut-up sterilized prettified dehumanized biosphere environments of managed and complete control.

Raise ’em high boys, let’s blow the lid off (and the windows open)!

Who has a light?

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


  1. Thanks for doing your moral duty, Caleb, and snitching on Arben; I’m not surprised.
    I whine about the dearth of republicans in my country, hell its becoming more and more obvious that there aren’t that many Americans left either; we’re becoming (…oh, Lord!) Europeans.
    Having surrendered the small pleasures of the malodorous, foul, and beautiful cigar, Arben and his fellow travelers seek to curtail my nightly dalliance with two fingers of Makers Mark/Buffalo Trace over ice, a small pleasure with certain medicinal benefits.
    When a republican quits smoking that’s his business; when a Democrat quits smoking he wants to pass legislation requiring everyone else to quit too!

  2. There is still at least one courthouse in south Texas that leaves its doors wide open and lets the breeze blow through. A true gem in an age of over-weatherization and over-securitization.

    “Air conditioning ruined Texas. It made it possible for Yankees to live down here.” (American Heritage [Dec. 1984], p. 13).

  3. When I think about the sorts of things (like lighting up) that will draw imperious glares and sanctimonious clucking, and then reflect upon the sorts of things I’m expected to tolerate or even huzzah — then I realize with grim nausea that I am without power, without a voice, and without a country.

  4. Caleb,

    I feel it’s my moral duty to step up and put the brakes on this new prohibitionary impulse gaining ground on a certain corner of The Porch. I’ve seen the raw milk prohibitionists and the anti-smoke prohibitionists chum right up to one another in the lobby of our State Capital, sweaty and shiney-cheeked with neopuritanical zeal and burbling over with thrilling explanations of new legislation being introduced to make sure no one is doing anything without a bend of the knee and a doff of the brow to the State with a ‘Mother-may-I’ first!

    Sure, it sounds like horrible liberal effete government busibodies interfering with your God-given rights. And maybe it is, a little bit. (Heaven knows I hate the food police messing with my milk!) But take away some of intellectuals-know-what’s-healthy-for-you baggage, and it’s just the fine Kansas tradition of Carrie Nation, flying high. Or do you disagree?

    As for the wider point about prohibitions, allow me to take off on something Rod said in his blog:

    I would of course be against banning booze, because one can partake of alcohol without discomfiting others.

    To which I responded:

    Well, the issue of “discomfort” is really the rub, isn’t it? To what degree is the state of California, in which a majority of voters expressed opposition to a ban on same-sex marriages, expressing a legal and/or theological principle, and to what degree were they expressing a “discomfort” with some of the ways society is changing? Do you wish to argue that any one who could not firmly disassociate the latter from the former had no place in voting their preferences? The way I see it, democracy–meaning, collective self-governance–is a dangerous but necessary thing; there are a few ways in which individuals with their rights ought to be able to trump it, but by and large, I think you ought to give people some slack when it comes to how they express their “discomfort.”

    Which is all just to say, very simply, that there are majority Southern Baptist counties throughout the South (one of which I praised in my original post) where a great many people are genuinely “discomfited” by the prospect of legal access to booze on Sundays, or Saturday nights. They will trot out the data on spousal abuse and drunk driving and all the rest, and that data should be taken seriously, but in the end, it’s really about comfort, about being sovereign over your particular place. I think that if a community wanted to ban booze, they’d be in for a world of enforcement problems, but it’s not necessarily a pointless endeavor. The same thing with gambling, or any other–perhaps pleasing and beneficial in terms of social interaction, but ultimately addictive–vice.

  5. Russell, you are right, of course, that prohibition has firm roots in Kansas tradition, however, it is important to put that movement in context. To the extent the temperence movement was a moralistic movement, I think it was an example of the progressive flaws which ended up derailing the decentralizing political uprising of the prairie populists. However, the main target of the Kansas populist prohibitionists was not alcohol per se, but the Saloon. And the literature of the day is chok full of arguments against the “Saloon Power” and especially the “Saloon influence” in politics. The saloon power was the specifically urban power of the establishment and the monied interests. It would be a mistake to think of early Kansas prohibitionists as doing anything other than battling their corporate overlords. Did they trade on the prevelant methodism of the prairie and its inherent moralism? Of course. Politics is messy and I am not worried about criticizing the early Kansas populists for too easily being caught up in a progressivist mind-set, because my sympathies lie with them primarily due to their refusal to bend the knee to the establishment powers. In that, we are truly kin.

    I don’t really disagree with your broader point about democratic control of localities, etc., and I do not hold a doctrinaire libertarian perspective, I am just arguing about what kind of community we ought to have, as you suggest.

  6. However, the main target of the Kansas populist prohibitionists was not alcohol per se, but the Saloon.

    I think you are right that the Saloon attracted a great deal of attention from the Kansas prohibitionists, but I think you overstate your case a bit when you say that alcohol per se was not also a main target.

    From the National Temperance Society year book of 1896, a poem “What it Costs”:
    “Six hundred millions every year / For whiskey, brandy, rum, and beer. / And wheresoe’er this stream doth flow / Are crime and poverty of woe. /Oh, who shall stay this darksome river? / Must this black tide flow on forever? / Or can we hope with mortal breath / To stay this mighty tide of death? / A living rampart must oppose, / True men, brace hearts, are sturdy foes, / While prayers in clouds ascend to heaven, / And God’s own help is freely given. / “All things are yours,” victorious faith / Will turn away this tide of death. / The prayer and promise He has given, “His will be done in earth and heaven.”

    Or how about a 1895 poem from J. L. Eldridge, pastor at First Baptist Church in Topeka, “Prohibition: A Call to Duty”:
    “All treasures spent for burning drink / In proper channels flow; / No lack for food for all mankind, / Nor bitter source of woe. / Then arid lands will be reclaimed / And deserts far and wide, / Perennial verdure spread abroad, / And every want supplied. / Then drunken poor will be unknown / What wonders shall we see, / To till the soil in ways improved / And navigate the sea. / All hail the fast approaching time, / What glories we’ll behold; / Such blessing on the sons of men / As never can be told.”

    But I’m with you through and through… sitting around a table amongst your common man with beer and smokes is civilization itself.

  7. I agree with Caleb. Does that mean Caleb needs to change his mind or I do?

    FTR, I haven’t smoked in two years. The habit got too expensive.

    As Fox and I were discussing over at CC blog, the impulse toward prohibition is anti-social. The whole concept of shared space seems evaporated in our society. The idea is absent that the guy smoking in a bar isn’t smoking because he wants to kill me (second hand smoke actually poses no such threat in concentrations we typically encounter) but because he enjoys it. And certainly there is a cross current of respect where smokers need to respect the sensibilities of others. (Apparently one of those times was outdoors at one of my children’s sporting activities. Grr…) But even in the bad old days of smoking being allowed everywhere, there were bars that had the reputation of being clean and those that had the reputation of being smokey. This world was not such a difficult place to navigate then. Goodness, I remember when they allowed smoking at McDonalds.

  8. Ahhhh…a breath of fresh hand-rolled Cohiba filled my lungs as I read.

    Several months ago I had the opportunity to attend an event with all of the living Surgeon Generals at a local hospital. They each gave a key note address and I distinctly remember Dr. Richard Carmona, a seemingly brilliant man, speaking about the responsibility of the Surgeon General to educate the public and to influence, as best as possible, public policy and discourse in the direction of the public good. However, an ideology seemed to emerge as he spoke, namely the philosophy that “education” and “influence” is to occur at all costs, despite the will of the public. Now, I agree that education regarding health and the research that is done in that field is necessary; but, I wonder how far should the “influencing” and legislating go? That is to say, if I know that smoking causes lung cancer, can be addictive, etc., yet choose to engage in that activity despite the evidence, then should the government at any level be allowed to legislate because a group of people refuse to allow the evidence dictate certain habits they find pleasureable? Does the public good in this case include the type of aroma in the air of ones immediate vicinity? Enclosed spaces, such as airplanes, make sense to me. But, come on, no more smoking sections in restaurants, outlawing smoking on city sidewalks, raising the tabacco tax in an effort to curb people’s habits, even attempting to make it illegal to smoke in ones own home… In 100 years we might well look like the squeaky clean populous of Demolition Man – and we’ll have no Stallone from the past to save us.

  9. Dearest sdf, Seems to me you were given legs to locomote away from anything you dislike rather than awarding yourself the honor of sheriff with the ability to cram things down throats of other folks you elect to be plunged. Even when they mind others business, it don’t mean you need to listen neither. But go ahead, by all means, stuff away, have a ball…. I hope the fangs don’t snitch you on the way out though, we cherooteers is rabid.

    I’d love to see the Liberals and Conservatives come together in hushed righteousness and re-enact Prohibition because it would be the first time they have done anything to create money making jobs in a very long time. Prohibit Away Oh Ye Sanctyfied Warriors, the music of the till shall be my recompense.

    Speakeasys deserve a comeback anyhow. After all, this is shaping up to be the new Weimar so we might as well have fun in the decline.

    Just make sure your wrapper is Connecticut Shade Grown.

  10. You’ll note dearest D.W. that I was more taking issue with (and mimicking) Caleb’s insufferable rhetoric and ego than with any potential smoky effusions. And you’re quite right to mock and reject such rhetoric. Thank you, sir.

    Caleb’s anti-social “I’ll smoke where and when I damn well please” is one of the roots of the nanny state. When civility diminishes we’re left only with law and power. Don’t like the nanny state? Stop pretending that self-important bullying is the same thing as personal liberty.

  11. Well,…. now that we have this all cleared up, please note this fleeting opportunity:

    100% PVC coated Bumper Stickers and American Made T Shirts in sizes Small to XXXLarge emblazoned with:

    “Anti Socials of the World Unite”

    are available at $5 per bumper sticker and $12.95 per t-shirt, plus postage. Send all orders to:
    La Cave De La Obstrepereppi, P.O. Box 358, Damnated, Connecticut, OI812.

    Act Now, Quantities Limited. The first 100 orders will get a free Vintage Crocheted Budweiser Can Hat with “Procrastinate Now” embroidered on the lid by the Woman’s Intemperance League of Damnated , Connecticut, all rights reserved and limitations roundly resented.

    Let us also outlaw humor so that people might again laugh into the increasing gloaming of this paradise for nitpickers.

  12. Here is a fine example of American sunshine and liberty conquering the bastard world…….you cant even die with a smoke in your mouth when the american freedom fighters kill you.
    With bombings and shootings still taking place on a daily basis, Iraq is not a country where people pay much heed to the health hazards of smoking.

    So news that the government plans to introduce a stringent, Western-style anti-smoking law has been greeted with surprise, and considerable dismay by Iraqis accustomed to lighting up wherever and whenever they choose.

    The draft law includes a ban on smoking in cafes, restaurants, clubs, and government and private offices, all places where life currently unfolds amid clouds of cigarette smoke. Penalties of $2,500 to $4,200 will be applied to violators.

    “Maybe if we were leading normal lives I would consider giving up smoking,” said Haidar Latif, 40, as he puffed on a cigarette in one of Baghdad’s cafes. “But we are facing tough times. Our minds are tired and we need to smoke.”

    “Before they make such decisions, let them fix the services, the electricity, the water supply, and pave the streets,” added Falah Aboud, 55, an actor who was sitting nearby. “This will only add more frustrations to our hard lives.”

  13. “Caleb’s anti-social “I’ll smoke where and when I damn well please” is one of the roots of the nanny state. When civility diminishes we’re left only with law and power. Don’t like the nanny state? Stop pretending that self-important bullying is the same thing as personal liberty.”

    sdf well said. Manners consist of two elements; etiquette and grace. Ignoring the former discourages the latter.

  14. Take a good look at the history of seatbelt legislation, helmet legislation, booze legislation, smoke legislation and you get all the same arguments and all the same escalation, which moves from Main Street to Pennsylvania Avenue. It almost always starts with the same people, and in the next generation (my children think that seatbelts are natural objects) until nobody can remember that we did any of it (legislating, that is) in the first place. It’s all “self-evident” like man-made climate change and the Declaration of Independence. Funny thing, though, about all those “health” advocates concerning smoke and drink–I’ve never known one of them to get exercised about real killers, say, like premarin or statins, and I’ve never known a pro-life prohibitionist.

  15. Jeff Taylor,
    Well, the “Party” joins my grandparents Willson, who voted Prohibitionist from 1896 until they died in the late 50s, so I guess I have met their heirs.
    Well, I guess that’s two. God bless you both.
    I saw a bumper sticker last summer that said, “Another Pro-Life Democrat.” The van belonged to a colleague of mine, a wonderful person of great faith, and I said to her later that day, “Who is the other one?” She smiled and said, “I’m still trying to find a few.”
    You guys are in real danger of going the way of the Shakers. I’m sorry, but gosh can’t we get things in the right order? Pressing government down on our necks about rolling a smoke when we are squashing babies and dropping bombs on children?
    Caleb and his friends (by the way I loved every smoke I ever had–haven’t had any for a long time but that’s just my prudential choice) do much less harm to the what, environment? I’ve lived long enough to say that moral things must be sorted out.

  16. John, I agree with what you say about priorities. I’m not opposed to local communities prohibiting alcohol but it’s not a big issue for me. Although I’m partly libertarian, I’m not against prohibition of actions completely because some things ought to be prohibited (e.g., abortion). That’s part of the purpose of government. I brought up the PP because I was aware that it’s socially conservative today. In the old days–in your grandparents day–it was socially liberal in the sense of being for women’s rights and reform in general, although it was still conservative in a moral sense. It’s interesting how it’s moved from the perceived left side of the spectrum to the right side, but that’s beeen the trajectory of many populists.

  17. Fox,
    I caint help it but I must share a little of our teenage fun when living in Hooch-Regulated Utah . Seems some of the less observant Good Brethren of the Saints would not frequent the visible State Liquor Stores in Ogden but would take a road trip out to Roy and slink in for a bottle where they could not be So Readily Identyfied. We used to have a little minor numbers racket booking probabilities of what pillar of the local Stake would show up fleetingly out of town in search of the accursed spiritous liquors. One even had a beat up Rambler he used so as not to be seen in his big Lincoln. We sinners are an evil lot we are, making money off the fallen nature of others. It was good for a laugh between picking fights with the cowboys out in the valley. Aside from the Wasatch, I miss the Quarter Horses of Taylor and Hooper as much as anything. Damn fine horse flesh there…Cutter races in the winter, nothing like it. It’s likely all “Ranchettes” and Hondas now.

    But, I will have to admit that any town or local burg that sees fit to go Dry, they have my support, as long as the trend does not cascade into any national temperance movement, a farrago tailor made to breathe new life into a Mob gone moribund. After all, what do I care, I aint touched the stuff for over 12 years due to certain professional excesses on that front. The Isle of Islay has likely never recovered from my abandonment of their fine output.

  18. I thought I was the only scion of Kansas RPs that smoked. Oh, except I quit because with California taxes they got too expensive and I couldn’t catch my breath when I ran after the kids.

  19. I have never smoked in my life, and I grew up on the greatest anti-smoking campaign ever devised, the one Bill Gaines ran every issue in MAD Magazine. I truly appreciate that I can eat a meal in a restaurant without having some inconsiderate fool at the next table light up a cigarette and blow smoke in my face. But, unless we are going to consign our tobacco-smoking fellow citizens to the same status as heroin junkies and meth users, we have to draw the line somewhere. We have to leave people some space.

    Across from my tiny studio apartment is a renovated hotel, which now costs per night what it cost per week before the renovation, and I see the staff standing outside on cold winter days smoking. For God’s sake, there ought to be one well ventilated lounge somewhere indoors where they can take their break and smoke. Yeah, its a little more expensive to have two lounges, and there are questions about second hand smoke, but leave everyone a little room, OK? To coin an original phrase, some of my best friends are smokers.

    Recently my state passed a law banning smoking in bars. Now, I understand there are issues of the health of employees, but I suspect that if half the bar licenses in the state were no-smoking, and the other half allowed smoking, things would sort themselves out. There must be as high a proportion of bartenders who smoke as customers who smoke. So, those who smoke will work at the smoking bars, those who don’t at the no-smoking bars. Tweak the exact percentages based on demand. If one type is overcrowded, the other half empty, then flip a few licenses, and give employees six months to roll with it or find a place that caters to their preference.

  20. So I like this post. I’m too am dismayed to see the Porchers getting on board the health and saftety puritanical prohibitionist movement. People don’t have a duty to be thin or not smoke etc. etc., and you’ve ever seen a picture of the Confederate cabinet you’ll notice some mighty “heavy set” fellas there.

  21. And if you look at the history of your typical southern community (like Rome, GA), you’ll see a marked decline in culture and civilization with the advent of prohibition. Rome had opera houses and grand hotels and then it had prohibition, and some things that are lost just can’t come back. On this issue I’m not with the Baptist populists. I’m more ok with prohibiting saloons and such on Sunday, although that too is borderline against my religion.

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