Rant: My Brush With American Fascism

So two days ago, Your Humble Author was standing at the corner of Baum Boulevard and Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh (a massive five-way intersection), smoking a Marlboro Red while waiting for the light to change. A jogger, a skinny lady in spandex, was crossing the street the other way, and as she passed me, starting coughing and made the “wave smoke away” hand gesture.

It was perfectly obvious that she was just doing it to bust my chops about smoking. And I’m like, “What the fuck? I’m not even allowed to smoke outside anymore?” I probably would have called her a fascist bitch, but it was so unexpected I just broke down into hysterical laughter.

A second example: I was standing outside of a medical facility while waiting for a doctor’s appointment smoking a cigarette (ironically, next to one of those garbage cans with a built-in ashtray) when one of those square-badge rentacop types comes out and tells me, “You’re not allowed to smoke here anymore.”

“But there’s an ashtray right here,” I protest.

“New rules,” says the rentacop, “you can’t smoke within fifteen feet of the entrance.”

So I sigh, figuring discretion is better part of valor, and walk over to the sidewalk. “This good?”

“No. It’s still within fifteen feet of the entrance.”

That was as much as I could take. “Listen, motherfucker, I’m on public property, and you know damn well you can’t force me to quit smoking on public property.” I held out the cigarette. “You want this? Come take it from me.”

Long pause. Then, with a sigh, he went back inside the building.

This situation is getting completely out of control. One of my throwaway joke lines was always about how I felt persecuted as a smoker, but now, I’m really starting to feel that way. These anti-smoking activists have developed the Messianic zeal of the Temperance League when they were pushing alcohol prohibition  in the Twenties(the ex-smokers are the worst; nothing worse than a reformed whore). It always make me think of Reverend Lovejoy’s wife on The Simpsons:

Helen Lovejoy

“Won’t somebody pleeeeease think of the children!”

I know that smoking is shortening my life. I don’t care, those are the diaper wearing years anyway. I have held my tongue about not being able to smoke inside barely anywhere anymore. I haven’t said a work about the punishing sin taxes that have almost tripled the price of cigarettes in the last decade, even though a quick look at the Canadian experiment with the same policy shows you how stupid it is.

But getting hassled for smoking outside in the open air? This is where I draw the line. I’m going to fight back.


by Tommy Brown

“The fact is that a man who wants to act virtuously in every way necessarily comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous.”

-Niccolo Machiavelli