Small blow for liberty

There is "something inherently uncomfortable about the idea of the state encroaching in such a broad manner on the people of California," California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote in his message to lawmakers Monday as he vetoed a comprehensive ban on smoking at all California state parks and beaches.

Although hundreds of communities nationwide have enacted smoking bans at municipal parks and beaches, Maine is the only state to have banned smoking at all its state beaches. And no state has yet banned smoking throughout its entire park system, in part (we presume) because parks tend to be, you know ... outdoors.

Gov. Schwarzenegger, a cigar smoker, reminded California senators that state parks and local governments were already permitted to ban smoking on a case-by-case basis.

The author of the bill, state Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, had argued her plan would help reduce litter along with the threat of wildfires and second-hand smoke.

"I'm sorry the governor did not agree with this widely supported effort to increase public awareness about the environmental threats carelessly tossed cigarettes are doing to our marine life and to the great outdoors," Ms. Oropeza said in a statement.

Oh, please. If you want to "increase awareness," print a pamphlet. This was a bill creating a new punishable crime, not a "suggestion."

Food containers represent more bulk when it comes to litter, but not even California has seen fit to try and ban the carrying of food onto state property -- yet.

In an era when the nanny state pretends it has authority to shepherd our bad habits as thoroughly as if we were either children or wholly owned livestock, Gov. Schwarzenegger's small blow for personal liberty is appreciated.