19 Oct 2010

Another Young Conservative From Yale

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Helen Rittlemeyer, evidently the Dorothy Parker of the ultramontane Catholic Right

Not long ago, I came upon an excerpt from Jonah Goldberg’s new anthology Proud to Be Right: Voices of the Next Conservative Generation and quoted and linked the criticisms of the young men of today leveled by a female conservative from Vanderbilt, along with the alternative viewpoint of the Former Chairman of the Party of the Right at Yale.

Just yesterday, another essay from the same collection turned up online.

This defence of smoking from a religious ultra-traditionalist perspective is by Helen Rittlemeyer, another female Sometime Chairman of the Party of the Right, and also requires attention.

[N]othing breeds mutual affection like huddling under a shop overhang in a New Haven sleet storm because Anna Liffey’s won’t let you smoke inside anymore. We smoked on principle. It was reactionary, libertarian, spiritual, and aesthetic all at the same time. Cigarettes Are Sublime, Richard Klein’s tribute to nicotine, was our Bible, because it had sentences like this: “When the religious dignity of smoking is completely obscured, we have lost a right to pray in public.”

That our tobacco habit had something to do with freedom should be obvious. …

Smoking bans bothered us because they gave the modern cult of health the force of law, which was more than we thought it deserved. The little joys of cigarette smoking—a moment of late-night camaraderie, an excuse to talk to an attractive stranger, just the right prop for an emphatic gesture, or simply a moment of relaxation at the end of a long day—these were all more important to us than health. There was something unappealingly technocratic about the state’s attempt to boil the argument down to heart-disease rates. Unlike the libertarians, we thought smokers should have to make a convincing case that the benefits of smoking in bars outweigh the costs. Unlike the Left, we thought unquantifiables like the way good bourbon mixes with a Marlboro should count.

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Ms. Rittlemeyer is becoming famous.

She also made the Daily Caller yesterday when an ex-boy friend delivered an extemporaneous critique of the impact on her social life of her extremist positions on CSPAN.

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David Iams

I’ve never smoked a cigarette in all of my 70 years. I think others should not be denied the right, however dangerous to their own health. I have little sympathy for the second-hand smoker theory, havig grown up with two parents, both of whom smoked regularly and heavily. Killed one, weakened the other. Did nothing to harm me. David Iams.



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