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Censure two elected councilmen for having opinions of their own and guts enough to express them?

Expect or require them to forsake individual person-hood, life experiences and mental abilities in the name of GOP party loyalty?

That has to be the epitome of arrogance.

I resigned as county Republican Party secretary and precinct executive committeeman in 2010 because of my lifelong knowledge and loyalty to my friend Ed Clements, running for 12th Judicial Circuit Solicitor. Though eligible to re-join party activities in 2011 under rules in force at the time, I didn’t do so for other reasons.

Sitting out for a while has given me a broader perspective on local and state politics. Public condemnation of two Florence City Councilmen for having the audacity to think and speak for themselves should not be a party practice or policy, either party.

My own feelings on the issue of the smoking ban are mixed. I believe “The best government is that which governs least.”*

I think local business owners and institutions have done a pretty good job of providing space for smokers and non-smokers alike.

And I think that if you’re going to advocate against smoking in privately-owned public places, why not go “whole hog” and also advocate against smoking in privately-owned private places? Advocate for making tobacco use illegal nationwide? But of course that’s not practical, and I know it’s not.

Until it is practical (and doable) I’m not in favor of enacting this anti-smoking ban just because other counties are doing so. My mother used to say, “If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?”

And I’m certainly not in favor of our local GOP trying to make lemmings out of every party member, including elected officials.

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* HENRY DAVID THOREAU, Civil Disobedience, first paragraph, Walden and Civil Disobedience, ed. Owen Thomas, p. 224 (1966). This essay was first published in 1849. The motto Thoreau referred to was almost certainly that of The United States Magazine and Democratic Review, a literary-political monthly: “The best government is that which governs least.”

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