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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Private Businesses Are Not Public Spaces

With the fervor to pass anti-smoking laws throughout the country, and around the world, legislators seem to have forgotten that Private Businesses are NOT Public Spaces, where government has the power to control what legal activities take place. Private businesses have the right to refuse service to people (for a multitude of non-discriminatory reasons) just as consumers have the right to vote with their wallets and patronize establishments of their choice.
I fully understand that government can/should limit behaviors and activities on government property, public transportation, or in indoor places where people do not have a reasonable choice to be. But, a restaurateur who wants to cater to cigar smokers, cognac drinkers, wine lovers, and meat eaters should have every right to do so. Especially if every potential employee who applies for work, and every customer who enters the establishment is notified of the policies of that business.

I can see the day when we will enter a restaurant and get weighed and have our Body Fat Index measured before we are given a seat. We will be handed menus/options that depend on our “health” statistics. While my girlfriend gets the “meat and potatoes” menu, I will be relegated to the “salad and tofu” selections. Maybe we will have to sit in the mandated “Dietary” section of the restaurant. Maybe I will get a smaller plate or fork with a very large glass of water. Who Knows? But it seems more likely than not. And ultimately, if you are legislating to protect the “Health and Welfare” of the population, it makes perfect sense.

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