Thursday, July 06, 2006

Sanity Prevails - today.

Florida high court quashes 145-billion-dollar tobacco award - Yahoo! News: "The justices said the amount of the punitive damages awarded, the biggest against US tobacco companies in history, 'is also clearly excessive because it would bankrupt some of the defendants.'

State law, the court wrote, 'requires that an appellate court review a punitive damages award to make certain that the manifest weight of the evidence does not render the amount of punitive damages assessed out of all reasonable proportion to the malice, outrage, or wantonness of the tortious conduct.'

The justices also said the award must be reconsidered in light of US Supreme Court rulings that set guidelines for punitive damages."
Hi; I'm Bob and I'm a smoker. To be frank, I'm a heavy smoker. I've been a smoker since I was 14, and the world is better for it.

The ruling left open the possibility for individual lawsuits - at least in Florida - with the issues of corporate misconduct and deceptive practices beyond question.

So why am I not calling my lawyer?

Simple. I'm neither stupid, nor am I unethical. I did not become addicted to tobacco because I was deceived, or unaware of it's potential health effects. By no means.

I smoke for a simple reason; when I smoke, I am sane. When I do not smoke, I am not sane, and am incapable of recognizing that truth. I was faced with that uncomfortable reality after two years of being self-righteously, obnoxiously, messainicaly smoke-free.

Then there was a moment of weakness - I took a single drag - and I was sane again. I realized that I had spent two irreplaceable years of my life being an inconsiderate, short-tempered, humorless dolt. I spent much that time fighting to restrain what is a truly formidable temper. Mostly I spent it being alone.

It is eerie how very Republican I seemed in retrospect. I did not have the capacity to think in depth - and I did not notice the lack.

Now I think back to my high-school years and see the difference smoking made. Based on my elementary school years - let us just say that columbine might well have happened sooner. I had access to a shotgun and a box of shells, plus two handguns and suffered from clinical depression. Self medication was my only medication.

And it worked. I'm still alive, still have my freedom and I've not killed anyone. So I figure that anything past 18 is just gravy. Indeed, the suicide rates for Aspergers persons is something like 20 or 30 percent. Given other factors that came into my life around that time - well, from a statistical standpoint, the fact that I'm alive is a fluke. That is not a rhetorical exaggeration.

So to all the health Nazis out there who will be screaming about this verdict, I say; shaddup. Until you find an effective and safer alternate to tobacco, I will smoke, and think the rest of you clinically insane for dismissing any thought of unintended consequences in your self-rightious zeal.

An extra decade or two as a crazed person does not appeal to me in the slightest. Living next to one appeals to me even less. And driving California freeways is a damn fine illustration of the shortsightedness of this latest Liberal foray into the land of "mother knows best."
Yes, smoking is bad for me and it has already shortened my life - although possibly not so much as some of the other meds I've been prescribed by doctors. But not smoking - that's worse. And not just for me, either.

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