Honolulu Lite
Charles Memminger

Sunday, August 14, 2005

No smoking without
a seat belt!

It's funny to listen to patrons of the Shack, a sort of sports bar-slash-hamburger joint, complain that customers are being allowed to smoke the evil weed on the premises. The "evil weed" being tobacco, not pakalolo, which the same anti-tobacco whiners are probably in favor of legalizing.

It's funny because why would anyone concerned about their health eat at the Shack anyway? Sure, you can get a salad there, but it's mainly known for its huge hamburgers of various styles. Like the Reuben Burger, which features pastrami and cheese as well as the burger. Or the Bacon Blues Burger, in which the hamburger is adorned with bacon and bleu cheese.

I picture a guy downing a bleu-cheese-and-bacon burger, with its 4,000 calories and 124 grams of fat, along with french fries and a beer, complaining between bites, "Man, I wish that guy on the lanai would put out his cigarette, the secondhand smoke is killing me."

When the autopsy on this health nut is carried out several years down the road, the doctor will note, "Patient weighed 400 pounds, died from severely clogged arteries, but boy, do his lungs look good!"

I guess what is needed is a Honolulu Nicotine Commission modeled on the Honolulu Liquor Commission. Agents of the Nicotine Commission could storm various restaurants in camouflage riot gear and drag smoking scofflaws to jail by their nicotine-stained fingers while the future cardiac cases gorge themselves with pastrami, bacon and cheeseburgers.

The anti-smoking crybabies, of course, see absolutely no conflict in wanting to ban smoking, legalize marijuana and eat themselves to death.

But that is the schizophrenia that is Hawaii.

It is here where children 13 and over can ride in the back of pickup trucks but dogs have to be tethered three ways for such a ride. It is here where police set up roadblocks to catch people not wearing seat belts in cars but motorcycle riders don't have to wear helmets. I'm not proposing mandatory helmets for motorcycle riders or banning adults from riding in the back of pickups. Evolution must be allowed to weed out the gene pool of knuckleheads. But why would you force a 13-year-old kid to wear a seat belt in the cab of a pickup truck but allow him to ride around unrestrained in the back?

Hawaii strives to become a "nanny state," but right now our nanny is pretty screwed up.

This state has weird ideas about taking care of its kids. Look how long it took to raise the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16. Some think 16 is still too young. A 16-year-old girl isn't mature enough to get a driver's license, but she's mature enough to, well, you know?

To be fair, Hawaii wasn't the only place wrestling with the "age of consent" thing. I checked the record, and it turns out that in Bolivia the age of consent for girls is 14 and 16 for boys. In Botswana it's 16 for girls and 14 for boys. Huh?

The island nation of Madagascar doesn't fool around. The age of sexual consent for females is 21. But that's liberal compared with Saudi Arabia, where all sex is illegal no matter what age the participants, unless they are married. Saudi Arabia's a "hand-for-a-hand, eye-for-an-eye" kind of place, so the young men take the sexual consent thing seriously, if you catch my drift.

How we got from smoking and cheeseburgers in the Shack to the age of sexual consent in Saudi Arabia, I'm not sure. Oh, yeah, schizophrenia. I guess it's catching. Hawaii isn't quite ready to lop off the hands of smokers and stone people not wearing their seat belts, but nanny's probably thinking about it.

Charles Memminger, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail cmemminger@starbulletin.com

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