Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


Gentlemen, You May Smoke!

Clarence took me, Roger, and Danielle up to the lake last night to have dinner at the best restaurant in Ohio, Chez Francois. I warned them, as we escaped the rain, that this would be like entering Paris from London and that we should remember (to paraphrase Henry VI) that we are in France, amongst a fickle and wavering nation. Still, there were too many people with a truant disposition not to enjoy ourselves. Besides, aside from the great food (and fine drink) we were there because this was also a smoker; we could do all three at once, without committing felonies. The good political conversation at the table was predicted, but then attempts at wit proved so powerful that even the sole lawyer revealed himself to be a jester so the skirmish of wit lasted the whole evening without pause. Soon enough--after much fine food and much too much drink and the fourth cigar--we thanked our host, Matt Mars, for his Declaration in favor of freedom (quoted below), and we told Clarence to take us home. A fine evening altogether, the only surprise is that we all made it to work this morning, we hard-nosed workers on behalf of self-government!

The Chez Cigar Club

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of a good smoke. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new organization, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. We believe that in the right to smoke a Handmade Premium Cigar, sip Single Malt Scotch, enjoy a good Steak with a fine bottle of Red Wine, eat Foie Gras, have our French Fries cooked in trans fatty oils, to discharge firearms for recreational and or self defensive purposes, to invoke Gods name in the public sphere as an acknowledgement of our heritage, to defend our borders and finally to honor America as the sole lynch pin holding Western civilization together! We support our Soldiers fighting terrorism throughout the world, our Police and Firefighters, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Cigar Manufacturers, Square Groove Golf Irons, Citizens for a free Cuba, The Tea Party Movement and Dancers for Democracy. We hold in esteem William Wilberforce, King Edward VII, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, General George Patton, Winston Churchill, Sigmund Freud, JFK, George Burns, Raquel Welch, Peter Falk, Ronald Reagan, Lady Margaret Thatcher and Marvin Shanken.

"Gentlemen You May Smoke"
Categories > Leisure

Discussions - 6 Comments

I echo your comments. It was a VERY enjoyable evening.
Thanks very much for Voegeli's book. I look forward to it based on your recommendation.

"We support our Soldiers fighting terrorism throughout the world, our Police and Firefighters, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Cigar Manufacturers, Square Groove Golf Irons, Citizens for a free Cuba, The Tea Party Movement and Dancers for Democracy."

All of that is entirely predictable (cigars, golf, snobbish politically incorrect meats - yaaaawn) of course... until we get to "Dancers for Democracy," which shows a significant split within the conservative camp. The GOP/Tea Partiers (and really, there's little difference, let's face it; they're pretty inc**stuous groups) need to at least pander to the "family/moral values" factions - and claim to be OF them - but at the same time it's clear that within the right-wing there are those who want their (still very narrowly-defined) libertarian pleasure-seeker culture of luxury goods and sensuality. Consider the endless stream of GOP pols caught with their pants down, many of whom were ranked as good, values-oriented conservatives, worthy of votes, up to the point they got caught. And Dancers for Democracy lumped in here among all of these faux-rebellious manly-man right-wing totems is another good case in point. They're a group of strippers in Cleveland (according to their myspace page, they're based out of the Hust**r Club there) upset about some government regulation of their trade. But this has (had) them up against this group, Citizens for Community Values:

which has all of the standard Focus on the Family-style campaigns against strip clubs and porn (hasn't blogger Justin posted some of their "research" saying that porn causes various evils?), even getting into stopping hotels from offering "adult" programming on their in-room TVs. I actually see that the Ohio-based group is "officially associated" all 3 of the family-values groups: FRC, AFA, FOF...

So, is supporting the strippers (and strip clubs, a la Michael Steele and various GOPers) and banal bikini culture (admittedly I've seen no endorsement of porn stuff here at NLT, but then I wouldn't expect anyone to do that here, at least openly) an allowable left turn within conservatism, or will there need to be a continuation of the false-front of conservative moral values in matters sexual in order to appease the Bible-thumping Moral Majority element of the base? Honestly, I think it's going to get more difficult for the right to pull off, as many of the right-wing, so-called "values voters" are seeing through the facade. And the more socially relaxes libertarian elements within the Tea Party will also be less inclined to vote for the True Believers on these matters, be they GOP or some independent Tea Party candidates who continue to pander to the Wholesome Values voters. But I guess when you're in a pricey French restaurant, speaking privately, away from the Tea Party hoi polloi, you can afford to give some props to your favorite libertarian pole dancers.

I can't believe I'm missing Joe Knippenberg right now!!

Whoops, meant "relaxed" in my last paragraph there, not "relaxes."

Craig, one of my students was a pole dancer who belonged to that group. I suppose she is my favorite libertarian pole dancer. She is studying to become a paralegal. She was also still dancing to provide for herself and her little daughter while she went to school. She wrote about her "cause" and we had several conversations about it. I suppose I could have thumped a Bible at her, but not without thumping it at myself as what I read in my Bible doesn't lead me to condemn that young woman. Must I then embrace pole dancing, just because I embrace her?

You have such cliched views of Christianity and of the Bible. Perhaps that is how you see the world, in cliches, which makes your take on conservative politics brittle and narrow, but with some truth. There surely is a split in the conservative camp on the matter of family values-type morality. It is not the only split.

I know I am going to put my point badly and I also wish Joe Knippenberg. He could put the matter better. Individual liberty and self-government versus the good of the community is problematic in politics (Word used in the broader sense). God's gift of free will, given our fallen natures and the inevitably of facing God's judgment, Hell and damnation in the spiritual realm only very roughly correlates. However, for Christians it does connect. What we are free to do may not be good for us. Freedom can lead to unfortunate consequences. Free people might see "good" differently. As C., my favorite pole dancer put it, pole dancing might not be "good," but it is a good way for her to pay the rent and therefore good for herself and her daughter. If government restricts her dancing, it restricts her ability to pay the rent. That is not good.

Why is she studying to become a paralegal? Age is one reason. In her mid-twenties and lovely because young, she was clever enough to know that wouldn't last and was preparing for a future. There was also the law against touching dancers that caused the formation of the Dancers for Democracy group and had her worried about her livelihood. There was also the matter of the other kind of good. She didn't want her daughter to know by what means they lived. That was not good. She didn't want her daughter growing up "like that" and was looking to change life to something more stable and with a basis in traditional family values. God knows if she will find that in a law firm.

I had a student this semester who wished to write his final paper on legalization of prostitution and why it would be good for America. He had all sorts of logical premises about lower crime rates, disease rates and all sorts of benefits to society that he could not back up. He could find statistics on crime, disease, etc, from places where prostitution is legal. Why weren't they useful? Because the statistics all proved the opposite of his contentions. He concluded that legal prostitution was not good for society, but wrote a really bad and contradictory paper in favor of legalization. We both know that he wanted the legalization of prostitution for personal reasons; he spoke of relaxation. He spoke of marital problems and women in the class just rolled their eyes. Even consorting with legal prostitutes does not do a marriage any good.

I can say to myself that prostitution or pole dancing might be a matter of individual liberty. I can also know that it would not be good for society and that I would have a hard time raising children to be good (hard enough in the most moral of societies) in a world where all things are legal. Yes, the Right can praise individual liberties and still worry about private morality. This is a conundrum and I don't know how the Right is going to resolve the matter.

I happen to know many on the Left who also struggle with the question. Not all Democrats are in favor of the legalization of marijuana or in favor of gay marriage, for examples. The Democratic Party is having a bad time bringing people along with the morality of its leadership.

Dancers for Democracy is probably more cohesive and coherent as an organization than the Tea Party is right now, being sort of single-issue while the Tea Party is a multi-issue group. There are what commenters on here have called "liberal-tarians" in that movement, as well as those you characterize as Bible-Thumpers. Perhaps those former will peel off to the Libertarian Party, or perhaps the young liberal-tarians will grow up, have children and redefine "good" for themselves along more traditionally conservative lines.

Kate, if you think my take on conservative politics (which, despite some hints of tension and nuance that you embody, you clearly align yourself with) is "brittle and narrow" then read this, from the Dancers For Democracy myspace page:

"Dancers, club employees, club supporters and concerned citizens who are interested in helping fight SB 16!!! The CCV (an ultra conservative Christian Right group) has imposed their will and belief system on the entire state of Ohio by initiating this extremely crippling state-wide adult entertainment bill. These new restrictions are unnecessary and over reaching making a simple hand shake or pat on the back between an entertainer and a patron a criminal act punishable by jail time. Let's work together to get this issue put on the ballot this November so we the people of Ohio can show the politicians and the CCV that we are tired of being robbed of our liberties. "

and whether the proprietor of Chez Francois (who produced the cigar club manifesto and appears to otherwise be a Limbaughesque conservative) knows it or not, the dancers appear to have a mutually supportive relationship with ProgressOhio - a group that the Glenn Beck Tea Partiers would likely see as destructive of America. In any case, they appear to be happy as liberal-tarians.

Also, the pertinent issue with the dancers seemed to have more to do with LAP dancing than merely pole dancing.

While you and some other scattered conservatives can toast the strippers over expensive meals and wine and imagine that their cause is somehow yours (note that they see it as "conservative Christians" "imposing their belief system" on them, not so much as Government-As-The-Problem, all-regulations-are-bad, etc.), they already have a comfortable home among progressives, whether you ever get beyond the love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin angst or not.

Meanwhile, the major conservative Christian groups (and again, look at those groups aligned against the strippers - those must be the 3 biggest such groups in the US) will be happy if all of the strippers are out of jobs tomorrow (as long as their LOCAL strip club remains open - shhhhh!!!).

You are not telling me anything I don't already know, either about that job or about conservatives or about men or the politics of that group. I know all that, but probably you are writing to a larger audience.

Isn't the more interesting question about what is good in our society? The corollary to that is about what kind of society we intend for our children. What is good? Liberty is good. But when people are free to do what they like, they can make a mess. My young friend would really rather be doing something else to make a living. She saw the mess. She was working towards a different life for herself, while she could make enough money to both live and go to school. She had no high opinion of men nor of her job, despite wanting the liberty to make money doing the job.

The young Christian women I have known who took jobs as pole dancers (in their late teens) in order to break their fathers' hearts (great success there) were as impressed as you seem to be with the hypocrisy, perfidy and stupidity of men. Men, apparently, are not at their best in that milieu. The local dance club does nothing good for the neighborhood. Crime rates rise, property values drop, yet liberty means neighborhoods have to struggle to construct zoning laws to keep such places from blighting their area. And yes, liberty is good; I am all for it, despite the mess it makes.

What I was really trying to suggest was that what Christians call immorality can also be shown not to work well and not to be good for people and society on more empirical grounds. What is "good" is more than just a matter of religion.

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