Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

September 25, 2013

An urgent appeal to undesirables: Repent!

As a smoker, I could not resist responding to Lisa Taylor’s letter (“Smoking downtown’s most undesirable problem,” Sept. 18 Times-News).

I agree with many points she makes in her courageous declaration of confronting “problems” in the downtown area. She is a strong, pro-active lady.

However, the contradictions in her reasoning astound my rather meager intelligence. She writes that the so-called “undesirables” are not a big problem, nor are the planters nor the “restrictive nature of new fences.”

Downtown is beautiful except for “poorly thought out trees” that drop berries on the mall. Thus, “dining is unpleasant.”

I’ve eaten at various restaurants scores of times and never had one berry drop in my salad or hot dog. Should we cut down the “poorly thought out trees” because of the berries? Would doing so make downtown less beautiful?

She complains about the “volumes of smokers” polluting the air she is breathing. Where is this “volume of smokers”?

I visit downtown several times a day; I see no “volume” of anybody, let alone smokers. I might see one or two people huddled in a doorway puffing away, but no “volume” of anything except pigeons! (Let’s ban them, too!)

Nevertheless, I take her at her word, and shall continue my search for this elusive “volume” of demonic smokers. She also complains of cigarette butts on the bricked mall. True, but hardly enough to count.

I’m too busy to notice butts “sandwiched between the bricks.” Is the general public offended by this grievous assault on the bricks? Heaven help the street sweepers “paid by our tax” dollars!

Well, ask any smoker about the taxes we pay on cigarettes. Small wonder West Virginia smiles at Marylanders — laughing all the way to the bank as Marylanders stream across the state line as  Taylor would have us do — so much for local businesses.

Taylor complains about the “second-hand smoke” in the open air of the mall — a public space. Ban smoking on the mall? Well, it wouldn’t be much of a public mall, would it?

How would this ban be enforced? What would the penalty be? She offers no advice. Perhaps, a scarlet “C” on the forehead would be appropriate for the offender.

How does someone smoking a block away affect her breathing? What pseudo-science proves that? How does smoking in my parked car on North Centre Street offend anyone except a person who doesn’t have a life?

Her myopic obsession with banning “undesirables” leads obviously to the infamous “slippery slope”dilemma. She should take a cursory course in American history.

The Volstead Act (Prohibition) backfired when “clean living” citizens of Taylor’s ilk banned liquor, making Al Capone a rich man. During Prohibition, the problem of alcohol consumption was exacerbated, not resolved.

If smoking is banned, shouldn’t we ban any business that sells tobacco? A rhetorical question!

Of course. Logic dictates — goodbye, several more businesses in Cumberland. Why not ban everything that offends — trees that shed, berries, undesirables, pool rooms, casinos, medical marijuana, soldiers smoking in trenches, big cars that consume too much gas, coal trucks, school buses? Where will the madness end?

The only time I see “volumes” of people downtown is Friday after Five. The few smokers I see keep a respectful distance from the crowd, including me.

Taylor says taking action will have an immediate impact. As a former businessman, I disagree. The action she proposes is impractical and commercially foolish. Why drive potential customers away? It’s financial suicides.

She urges community leaders to take a first step. I say it’s a false step. The first step is to revitalize downtown business. The real “undesirable problem” is not berry-bearing trees or “volumes” of non-existent smokers; it’s the number of empty buildings, not a few cigarette butts.

James Zamagias

Cumberland

 

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Time to do it Time to do it

    It never made sense that criminal background checks were not made on medical license applications in Maryland. Fortunately — for the protection everybody — the background investigations may soon be a matter of routine.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • If you don’t like the way things are going, vote to change them

    I daily hear complaining about the decline of America. I also hear people say that things will only get worse and there is nothing we can do about it. Admittedly, I used to be like this.

    July 31, 2014

  • Thanks for publishing both sides, but only one was right

    Kudos to the Cumberland Times-News for publishing opposing Reader Commentaries (“Other groups get county funds, so should CHCO” and “No public funding for extremist organization,” July 30); a relatively minor issue, but a great demonstration of our cherished “Freedom of the Press.”

    July 31, 2014

  • They can say it’s in Timbuktu, but it’s still in West Virginia

    I feel that I have to respond to recent articles about the out of control Potomac Highlands Airport Authority.

    July 31, 2014

  • State would require disclosure of chemicals used at well sites

    A recent article (“Docs want full disclosure of chemicals that would be used in fracking process,” July 21, Page 1A) and editorial (“No secrets: Chemical use in fracking a concern to all,” July 22) in the Times-News might have caused confusion about Maryland’s proposal on public disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.

    July 31, 2014

  • If we don’t sell it to them, somebody else will

    The front page article on coal exports by AP writer Dina Cappiello is one of the most asinine and biased “news” articles I’ve read (“Not in my backyard: U.S. sending dirty coal abroad,” July 29 Times-News, Page 1A).

    July 30, 2014

  • Research cost of watershed plan before implementing it

    July 30, 2014

  • ‘Prayers in the Park’ event slated Aug. 18 in Johnstown

    July 30, 2014

  • Not a villain Not a villain

    Time was that we looked for heroes. Heroes of the make-believe variety have sold a lot of comic books. We also had real-life heroes like Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, whose deaths the whole nation mourned.
    These days, we seem to be more interested in looking for villains. “Vote for me because I’m the good guy” has taken a back seat to “Don’t vote for him, because he’s the bad guy.”

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Other groups get county funds, so should CHCO

    At a recent county commissioner meeting, members of the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization, Maryland Delegate LeRoy Myers Jr. and Pastor Alfred Deas of the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, Cumberland attended to request from the commissioners $5 dollars of marriage license money be permanently allocated to the CHCO (“Cemetery group renews funding request,” July 25 Times-News, Page 1A).

    July 29, 2014