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Jewish World Review / Nov. 18, 1998 / 29 Mar-Cheshvan, 5759

Don Feder

Don Feder Why liberals hate tobacco and guns more than drugs and crime

LAST WEEK, THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION hauled Joe Camel into court. What liberals choose to fight and what they don't -- tobacco not drugs, guns instead of criminals -- is revealing.

Though R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. voluntarily put Joe out to pasture in 1997, the FTC wants to permanently enjoin his return and force his owner to pay for an anti-smoking effort aimed at kids.

The FTC claims the company knowingly used its cool cartoon character to entice teens to smoke, and so must be held accountable.

I've never smoked. I know tobacco is harmful and believe government should take reasonable steps to keep kids from smoking. Still, one needn't be an industry apologist to see something obsessive, bordering on the hysterical, in the liberal anti-nicotine crusade.

Not a week goes by without some new offensive -- a city bans smoking sections in restaurants, a state files a class-action suit on behalf of residents with lung cancer who were too stupid to stop.

Our president, a great moralist he, regularly delivers homilies about the evils of the demon weed and the need to save our children from its grasp.

When it comes to combating drugs, he goes through the motions. Here, one senses he really means it. Like their hero, liberals (when they aren't pushing medical marijuana) seem not overly concerned about the narcotics contagion.

Perhaps that's why they get so agitated about cigarettes. Along with alcohol, it's an addiction they can comfortably oppose. In their minds, drugs still have a countercultural cachet. Additionally, attacks on tobacco give the left another opportunity to bash big business.

It may have escaped their notice that we have a growing drug problem in this country, especially among the young to whose welfare they profess to be so devoted.

The last federal household survey of drug use showed the number of teens who use marijuana had increased from 7.1 percent in 1996 to 9.4 percent in 1997. In 1996, 171,000 Americans experimented with heroin, 10 times the number who tried it four years earlier. Even more senseless than anti-smoking witch hunts is the liberal war on guns.

Like Joe Camel, the NRA's Eddie Eagle is cursed for supposedly glamorizing firearms. Handgun Control Inc. has never explained exactly how a character who warns kids to stay away from guns contributes to gun violence.

Taking their cue from anti-tobacco crusaders, cities are suing gun manufacturers for "negligently" making things that someone could misuse.

On Nov. 12, Chicago filed a $433-million lawsuit against the firearms industry. Manufacturers should counter-sue for the money municipalities save every time an armed citizen thwarts a crime or dispatches a criminal.

Following the latest schoolyard slaughter, gun controllers were calling for mandatory locks. Needless to say, when a criminal invades your home, you can call time-out while you unlock your pistol and prepare for defensive actions.

As John R. Lott Jr. of the University of Chicago Law School points out, there is an inverse relationship between the number of guns in circulation and crime rates. States like Vermont and Wyoming, where heat is plentiful, are usually peaceful.

But the anti-gun mindset is impervious to logic. Liberals hate guns as passionately as they hate butts. As anti-smoking efforts give them the illusion of fighting addiction, gun control offensives let liberals look tough on crime, without being unduly harsh to socially deprived criminals.

Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, who lost a bid to become the state's governor this year, is frantic about firearms.

Earlier this year, Harshbarger tried to use his regulatory power to ban inexpensive handguns and mandate child-safety locks. "The gun lobby wants to stop us from making handguns safer for children," he fumed when the courts denied him this extra-legal authority.

How about really making kids safer by exacting the ultimate penalty from killers of children, like Salvatore Sicari, convicted last week of the murder and rape of 10-year-old Jeffrey Curley of Cambridge, Mass.? Harshbarger, who opposes the death sentence, would never opt for this solution.

Triggers pull fingers, and butts pop magically into mouths. Incarcerate the handgun (with a child lock), but spare the murderer, to possibly kill again. Eviscerate Joe Camel, and forget about Lenny the pusher and Carlos from Colombia.

Learn the above, and you'll understand the essence of liberalism's voodoo crime control and faux war on drugs.

Up

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12/28/97: Hypocrisy is a liberal survival mechanism
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©1998, Boston Herald; distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.