Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Death On Every Corner
by Tim Maleeny
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors announced they will make it illegal to sell cigarettes in drugstores. Smoking is already banned in public places, as it is in many cities including New York, but this new bill bans even the sale of cigarettes by certain types of stores.
Having made this decision to save us from ourselves, the board got sufficiently fired up to target another threat to our health and happiness: the deadly can of soda. If the politicians have their way then any corner store will have to pay a surcharge or fine for every can of "sugary soda" they sell.
And here in San Francisco and also New York, politicians are talking seriously about banning trans fats from restaurants.
What if I want to eat trans fat? What if I want the Trans Fat Special from the Arteriosclerosis Cafe, located at the intersection of Constitution Drive and Kiss-My-Ass Avenue?
I get the smoking thing. There is second-hand smoke, and whether or not smoke works its way into your neighbor's lungs, it makes their clothes smell like an ashtray. OK, I'll go with a limit on where and when you can smoke. But telling me I can't sell or buy a legal product is a big leap from telling me where and when I can use it, or am I over-reacting?
Is there second-hand trans fat leaping invisibly through the air from your cheeseburger to my open mouth, filling my arteries with soft plaque?
You want to label the menu, tell me clearly which delicious meal is going to kill me faster, go right ahead. I'll even put on my reading glasses and pour over the fine print. But don't tell me what I can or can't serve, let alone what I can order.
Bear in mind that in many parts of this great city, on the same block where you won't be able to buy cigarettes or soda, it will be eminently possible to buy crack, barter for sex, or procure weapons for your neighborhood turf war, which is probably taking place only blocks away from the public school with metal detectors at every door. So while you might die from an overdose, an STD, or a drive-by shooting, you can sleep at night knowing the board of supervisors are protecting you from...well, yourself.
Because while apparently you can't be trusted, we all know how much we can trust politicians.
As a side note, I'm neither a Democrat nor Republican, and I haven't much liked a standing president since Teddy Roosevelt. (And I'm not even sure about that since I wasn't around during his term.) Politicians seem more concerned with patting your back with one hand while they pick your pocket with the other, but at least most of them have the decency to pretend to care about the same things you do.
Now I'll admit that people I know generally do what they can to stay healthy, and most exercise or watch their diet more than they did a few years ago. Good for them, that's their choice, the operative word being choice. But I can assure you that none of my neighbors are looking to the folks who brought you the lines at the DMV to tell them how to live.
It all makes me think of Al Capone, and I cannot help but wonder if this is how prohibition started.
And I've already decided the villain in my next novel isn't going to be a terrorist or thief, a serial killer or con artist. He's going to be a master criminal who refuses to exercise, won't eat his broccoli, drinks soda by the gallon, and runs an underground burger joint out of his basement.
Or will he be the hero? I just can't decide. Maybe I should ask my local supervisor what he thinks I should do...
Posted by Tim Maleeny at 1:04 AM