America: Land of the Free - Home of the Misanthropes A Response to Florence King Summary/Strong Response Essay

Essay by littleOMCollege, UndergraduateA+, June 2004

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Approaching the AD building on campus last week, I was shocked and nearly choked as I took in a deep breath. My lungs filled with cigarette smoke instead of the clean crisp winter's morning air I had been breathing. The smoke made me nauseous. I grimaced as I noticed that the smokers were not the required twenty-five feet from the entrance to the building. What are smokers thinking? Don't I have the right to breathe clean smoke free air? Don't smokers have any respect for my rights?

Author Florence King addresses the issue of whose rights she believes are actually being violated in America in her essay, "I'd Rather Smoke Than Kiss," published in the National Review. Writing to a Review readership comprised mainly of well-educated conservative white males, King, a devout smoker, asserts that in this alleged democratic nation, smokers are the new greenhorns; the newest victims in a country with an already disreputable history of segregation, prejudice, and discrimination.

King claims that hating smokers is the most popular form of closet misanthropy in America today. She explains that the blatant ostracism of smokers can be seen simply by looking at the no-smoking signs which inform smokers they are not welcome, the pitiless radio and television anti-tobacco public-service advertisements, and the mass quantities of baleful comments targeted at smokers by a health obsessed American government and populace. King declares, "[it is] a quintessentially American need [...] to identify and punish the undesirables among us" (137). In King's opinion, the smokers are the new undesirables in America and they are being inequitably punished. Although I felt that King presented some quite valid arguments regarding the discrimination against smokers in America, I felt that she failed to mention the effects of smokers on non-smokers. Additionally, I felt that King inappropriately over...