As I mentioned, I support the Occupy movements for the most part. There does exist anti-Zionist faction that drives me to distraction, but my hopes are that domestic solidarity will suffice for most, and that we will abandon the need to identify with every group that we perceive as downtrodden. If we do have to pick a nation upon which to lavish our sympathy, my vote will be for the Congo.
Politics, however, are the purview of the Meta-Bug, and here we try to stay focused on health matters (and drinks and dishes). And the health matter at Occupy Boston that has me grinding my (unstained nonsmoker’s) teeth is the high rate of smoking that is going on at Dewey Square. Of course, if someone wants to fill his or her lungs with a foul and loathsome gas chock full o’ carcinogens, that is more or less that person’s right. However, second-hand smoke is so noxious that even outdoors it is capable of causing damage, irritating the airways of asthmatics and exposing others to its risks.
Alas, Occupy Boston has been unable to designate a separate area for smokers, at least by the time of my last visit. “That would be segregation,” complained one fuzzy young smoker, obviously quite annoyed that someone would suggest segregation at an Occupy campsite. I tried to engage the smoker, explaining that separating people by behaviors which they could control, behaviors that could harm others, was not the same as segregating people by the color of their skin or the gods to whom they prayed.
In the end I think it came down to smokers just not wanting to give up their smokes. Now I can understand that living for days at a time on what is essentially a traffic island, attending General Assemblies for hours at a time, and eating cold donated food for a few weeks could engender an enormous desire to light up. But saying that smokers while smoking shouldn’t be kept at a distance from non-smokers is anti-science, and turns a back on the hard-fought and enormous gains made in public health by working to restrict smoking.
It reflects poorly on the Occupy movement not that they smoke, but that Occupy smokers believe that it is there right to put out second-hand smoke without restriction. The Occupy smokers should just admit that they are addicts and that they need their fix. What’s really at issue is the ability to reflect on one’s own behavior, and be as critical of it as one is of the behavior of others.