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Final Revision: Speech to the City Council

Posted on 2009.02.26 at 06:36
Current Location: 75409
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I took speech class in high school, and again as part of the Air Force's Technical Training Instructor Course at the Officer Training School on the Medina Annex in San Antonio. I tell people I'm good at public speaking, but I must admit, I haven't spoken publicly in over a year. I know *how* to speak - at what volume and what speed when giving an oral presentation, and I know how to stand, and what to do with my hands. I know how to make eye-contact and where to place the emphasis in my paragraphs. I also expect the butterfly's and wavering voice to calm down once I get started, but during last night's presentation, that didn't happen.

I know all the people on the City Council, and the Mayor. I speak at length with them easily and confidently, and am friends with several of them. But put these same seven people behind a raised desk staring down at you as if in judgment while you're basically cautioning them against tyranny in the presence of the Chief of Police, and the City Lawyer, and I was sure I was going to be arrested for my inflammatory words.

Freedom can sound a lot like treason.

But sometimes the training really does just kick in. I approached the podium, and did what I had to do. Several individuals told me I was magnificent. For that, I am thankful, for I was unsure I could mask my nervousness. Simply put, I'm out of practice. One of my old managers from work (who also happens to live in our town) showed up to support me; I had requested his assistance on the speech. And while I initially fought against his advice (if you compare this speech to my first draft you'll notice its far less accusatory) the night before the meeting I incorporated some of his changes for the better...despite the fact that meant I no longer had it memorized. I'd like to thank him, and all of you for your support when I first posted it, as well as the Mayor and City Council for allowing me their time.

It will be printed in Friday's newspaper:

Being a lover of liberty means sometimes supporting activities I vehemently disagree with - thankfully, I'm never divided, because my agenda in these matters are without question: If it infringes upon personal freedom I am against it. Thankfully, we have you - a governing body, that being, a group of representatives chosen by the people to carry out the will of the people, insofar as it complies with county, state, and federal law.

While I agree the government has the right to impose such sanctions in City operated areas, and government facilities, that right ends at private enterprise. You may be familiar with the terms "free market society" and "capitalism." Our nation is built on these inherently self-regulating concepts. Loosely defined, it is not the government’s job, or place, to tell a private business how to operate. Freedom of choice is what makes this country work, it is this nation's founding ideals. In this day and age many incorrectly argue that they also have the right to go to a restaurant without being assaulted by smokers. That's not a right, its a choice - the same choice you are considering limiting with this proposal.

My personal opinion on smoking is irrelevant, as should be yours. Personal feelings of council members on this topic should never enter into the decision making process. If it is the people's will to make our community smoke-free, I refuse to argue against their choice to do so. But if the people are divided, I implore you to err on the side of freedom, for while you wield the power to deny us choice, I have placed my trust in you to exercise that power with discretion and responsibility. If this decision is not going to be put to the people, then it is imperative your own beliefs in sovereignty are discharged, for your actions will be heard by all.

It amused me that I wore the Union Jack upon my chest as I spoke about liberty.


lesabre500 at 2009-02-26 13:33 (UTC) (Link)

Your Speech

Hi Tom,

Well done. That was really well said and you made a great point. I hope they listen to you. Also, I totally agree with you about this topic. They just passed laws here in Ontario that makes it illegal for anyone to smoke in their vehicles if there are kids under 16 in the car. That, I can understand but the govt. is going way too far - they now want it to be illegal to smoke in any public place around here! Christ, some areas are talking about making it illegal to smoke in your apartment too!! So, if I can't smoke inside at my place or anywhere outside, what do they plan on doing? Probably cattle prod us smokers into giant bubbles to smoke and asphyxiate each other. This anti-smoking BS is getting way out of hand. Glad to hear someone stand up for themselves and others concerning this.

Talk to you later, I have to go for now.


ehowton at 2009-02-26 14:03 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Your Speech

Unfortunately Steve, that someone is not always me. We all have our different motivations for taking action on various items, and this case was no different. I smoke cigars, and quite infrequently these days, as it turns out. I'm really not affected by the proposed smoking ban, and in fact would better enjoy a restaurant smoke-free. But that's obviously not the point.

And for the record:

schpydurx = Tom aka ProfessorTom
lesabre500 = Steve (You)
ehowton = Eric (Me)
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
melancthe at 2009-02-26 14:32 (UTC) (Link)
In this day and age many incorrectly argue that they also have the right to go to a restaurant without being assaulted by smokers. That's not a right, its a choice - the same choice you are considering limiting with this proposal.

That's very nice and all, but I'm curious as to how you reconcile the general consensus on the ACTIVE dangers of PASSIVE smoking (I'm happy to provide a vast amount of research data on it in case you're desperate, but I think this is pretty well-accepted publicly) with this?

Surely freedom that infringes on the health of others is a false kind of freedom? To draw a comparison between other kinds of non-harmful freedoms and an actively harmful one like passive smoking is surely a fallacy?

(I'm querying specifically with regard to issues like being "assaulted by smokers" in places like restaurants.)
ehowton at 2009-02-26 15:04 (UTC) (Link)
Thankfully, in this nation, we still have the choice to not patronize any place of business we don't want to, no matter the reason behind it.
CeltManX, Devlin O' Coileáin
celtmanx at 2009-02-26 15:48 (UTC) (Link)
ehowton at 2009-02-26 16:00 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you sir. As the President of the Chamber of Commerce said, "You could almost hear the patriotic music playing in the background."
wardlejew at 2009-02-26 15:54 (UTC) (Link)
Well said. It is about the principle our nation is founded on. Our political leaders forget that way too much.
ehowton at 2009-02-26 18:07 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. I was nervous reminding them, however.
Tat-Man the Zombie Hunter
scareypete at 2009-02-26 16:16 (UTC) (Link)
I have argued this many times as well, Infact If you dig a year or so back in my journal there is discussion of Last years proposed state wide ban on smoking in Virginia, that was over turned 2 weeks before it went active.

This Year the State of Virginia once again Passed an Anti-Smoking Ban It goes Active in December. I hope in the next 9 months people can deluge the gov't with requests that they respect the private property rights of the owners of establishments. Within the free market system you can effect change without using the governments Muscle to do their dirty work and fucking it up for all.

You and I are in complete accord on this though. I can't stand cigarette smoke. But I do love a good cigar once or twice year and I want that good cigar in a relaxing environment with a scotch and a Guinness.

Of course I also like Hookah. Although lately I have found that my smoking is more of an abdominal inhale than lung inhale and that much sweet hookah smoke is making me sick to my stomach far sooner than it used to.

But it is the government barging into our private property and saying gee you can't do this, you're going to jail or forfeiting large sums of money.

ehowton at 2009-02-26 18:10 (UTC) (Link)
I hear its on the table in Texas as well. Perhaps I need to address the state next?
thesweetestnote at 2009-02-26 17:48 (UTC) (Link)
Great speech! If you ever run for office let me know. I'll wear the shirt.

They need to leave the bars and clubs alone. Restaurants are understandable. And I can certainly understand the "not smoking in the car with the kids" thing. That's just common sense. But the whole second hand smoking thing... na. There are more toxins in the environment we interact with everyday. The water is fucked and just driving to work exposes us to mass amounts of exhaust. There's shit sorry, pesticides and "enhancement" crap in the fruits and vegetables, the cows are on steroids, the chickens too. They tell you "free-range" - whatever that means. Too me just text on a package. So if I wanna light up... let me and walk away and go inhale some of that awesome clean city air. I promise to not do so if it's against the rules... but FOR PETE"S SAKE! Gimme a place to do so!!! In my car alone, a bar or in my backyard seem ideal.

Why am I thinking George Carlin at this moment?

Peace Out!

Edited at 2009-02-26 05:52 pm (UTC)
ehowton at 2009-02-26 18:06 (UTC) (Link)
Great speech!

Restaurants are understandable.
I don't agree, and this was the entire reason for my presentation.

They tell you "free-range" - whatever that means. Too me just text on a package.
Yes. Unfortunately the FDA has stepped in and now allows certain levels of irradiated items be listed as 'organic.'
glodowg at 2009-02-26 21:01 (UTC) (Link)
It was professional, to the point and very profound. You did an amazing job. I expected nothing less!
ehowton at 2009-02-26 22:05 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much for saying so! I often wonder what you're thinking behind that cool, calm exterior. Ooooh! Speaking of, LOVE the new glasses! I was trying to describe them to catttitude and she was all like, "Yes, I know. I was there." Oh. Right.
joey_glover at 2009-02-27 14:46 (UTC) (Link)
impressive. truly articulate.
ehowton at 2009-02-27 17:03 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks dude. I try.
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