Property rights?

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Your Views

  There are several issues with Representative Floyd’s defense of the so-called “property right.” He claims business owners have which would allow them to avoid any requirement that they ask smokers to smoke outside the building.

Floyd asserts that Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Jack Kennedy would also defend this so-called “property right.” I can’t claim to know what someone who died in 1826 (T.J.) or 1865 (A.L.) or 1963 (JFK) would do if they had had the advantage of today’s science, but I’ll venture a guess based on things they did during the lives.

Jefferson depended on slaves for his living his whole lifetime so he might have agreed with Rep. Floyd IF he saw it as a property right. BUT he was also a big believer in science. If he knew what we know now about what secondhand smoke does to others, there is a very good chance he would uphold workers’ rights.

As for JFK, some of us are old enough to remember the virtually identical claims that business owners had the right to exclude anyone they wished from their businesses. Many of us blush to remember the “whites only” signs. To quote JFK from his 1963 Civil Rights Address: “It ought to be possible for American consumers of any color to receive equal service in places of public accommodation, such as hotels and restaurants and theaters and retail stores?? He started the legal ball rolling so that now businesses are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of race. But today workers and consumers are banned from certain businesses because of their physical condition (asthma, etc.) So, no, JFK seems very unlikely to be out there defending that so called “property right.”

And Lincoln? With the stroke of a pen, he eliminated fortunes in “property” because it was the right thing to do. It took wisdom and courage for Lincoln and JFK to do what they did. I hope we’ll follow in their footsteps. Property owners have a responsibility not to damage others with their property. Science tells us that secondhand smoke damages people who breathe it. Making workplaces smoke-free is the right thing to do.

Judy Jett

Cox’s Creek, Ky.