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November 11, 2004

Inane Letters

It's Veteran's Day, and American troops are in combat.  So of course the Houston Chronicle will run letters attacking the troops -- for smoking in a combat zone.

Yeah, that's right.  Not one, but TWO letters complaining that a Marine getting a break from the Battle of Fallujah was shown with a cigarette.  Oh, the horror of it all!  These Smoking Nazis are concerned about the impact such a photo will have on "the children."

First we get Dr. Daniel Maloney of the Woodlands, who writes,
I was shocked to see the large photograph on Nov. 10. A tired, dirty and brave Marine rests after a battle — but with a cigarette dangling from his mouth! Lots of children, particularly boys, play "army" and like to imitate this young man. The clear message of the photo is that the way to relax after a battle is with a cigarette.

The truth is very different from that message. Most of our troops don't smoke. And most importantly, this young man is far more likely to die a horrible death from his tobacco addiction than from his tour of duty in Iraq.

Yeah, Doc, you are probably right.  The young man in the picture probably shouldn't be smoking.  But do you really have nothing better to do than chastise a Marine in combat for smoking?  One would hope you have something better to do with your time, not to mention a higher standard of decency.  Were I one of your patients, I would be looking for a new physician right about now -- and I encourage any reading this to do so.

Then there is Maynard Hovland of League City.  His entry in the "Disrespect for Veterans" competiton is shorter and more absurd.
I opened the Chronicle this morning and got slapped in the face by a huge picture of a "battle weary" Marine with a fine looking cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

I respect everyone's rights, but do we really need to encourage our young people to think that this is part of required military gear?


Well, I'm glad to know you respect people's rights. I'm sure that young man respects your right to write such an inane letter to the editor to show your disdain for his putting his life on the line for your freedom. If seeing someone with a cigarette is such a traumatizing event, I can only assume that you don't watch movies or leave your home for fear of becoming psychologically scarred by the sight of a tobacco product in use.

I'm no fan of smoking.  I've lost too many loved ones to lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and other smoking related maladies.  But I do have a sense of proportion about that particular vice, and it seems to me that any creature comfort our fighting men can get in a war zone is one that I'm not going to criticize.

So to all our men and women in uniform, far from home and in harms way on another Veteran's Day, the smoking lamp is on.  "Smoke 'em if you got 'em!"





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