For a Tavern Called “Liberty”…

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

There’s a little spot in Arlington, Virginia called the Liberty Tavern. It’s a popular watering hole and meet-up point for D.C.-area libertarians, in part I guess because of the name, but more likely because it’s a short hop from the George Mason Law School, home to the libertarian non-profits the Mercatus Center and the Institute for Humane Studies.

Jacob Grier notes that Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine has teamed up with the owners of the Liberty Tavern to relaunch his campaign for a Virginia statewide smoking ban.

If you live in the area, you might want to keep that in mind when deciding where to spend your beer and bar food budget. Better yet, drop the tavern’s owners a note to let them know why you’ll no longer patronize them.

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18 Responses to “For a Tavern Called “Liberty”…”

  1. #1 |  Nando | 

    This is where the rubber meets the road, and my libertarian views start to lose traction like a Viper in the snow.

    On the one hand, I agree that all private business owners have a right to decide whom to serve and, so long as smoking remains legal, it should be allowed at the owner’s discretion.

    However, as a patron, I find myself going to bars in Virginia less and less in favor of bars in DC, where smoking isn’t permitted. I’d probably patron more bars in NOVA if it weren’t for the smell which, honestly, makes me nauseous. It is for my convenience only that I’d be willing to sacrifice one of my principles in order for bars in NOVA to be non-smoking.

    Bring on the negative ratings, lol.

  2. #2 |  ShelbyC | 

    @ Nando. Yeah, I know how you feel. I’m against slavery, but I can’t say it wouldn’t be convienent to have folks to clean my house and do my yardwork.

  3. #3 |  Mike T | 

    However, as a patron, I find myself going to bars in Virginia less and less in favor of bars in DC, where smoking isn’t permitted. I’d probably patron more bars in NOVA if it weren’t for the smell which, honestly, makes me nauseous. It is for my convenience only that I’d be willing to sacrifice one of my principles in order for bars in NOVA to be non-smoking.

    That makes me wonder. If it could be demonstrated to you that women tend to vote overwhelmingly for collectivist politicians, would you sacrifice equality in order to disenfranchise a very significant percentage of collectivist voters?

  4. #4 |  PA | 

    Nando –

    The issue is not any individual’s personal preference regarding smoking in a bar. If Liberty Tavern wanted to voluntarily ban smoking in their bar, they could do so (and assuming Radley and his other friends are non-smokers, they would very likely continue to patronize Liberty). However, that would put Liberty in direct competition with other bars that do allow smoking (potentially putting them at competitive disadvantage, although as you point it, it could very well be an advantage). The issue is Liberty Tavern’s willingness to use the state’s police power to protect them from competition by dictating to other bar owners how they should operate.

  5. #5 |  Bryan | 

    Nando (and others similarly minded) —

    E-mail the Liberty Tavern. Tell them you prefer non-smoking bars. Tell that you are more likely to go to thier bar if it is non-smoking. Tell them that they will have a competative advantage over other smoking bars if they go non-smoking. And, if you really believe in the concept of liberty, tell them that they will lose your business if they force all bars to go non-smoking.

    That seems to be the solution that will make everyone here happy.

  6. #6 |  Andrew Williams | 

    It’s one thing if individual bar/restaurant owners decide to institute a smoking ban on premises. It’s a whole ‘nother kettle of rotting fish if a WHOLE STATE institutes a ban on all such businesses. That’s what Keane is proposing, and the fact that the owners of Liberty Tavern are aiding and abetting him is disturbing, to say the least.

    Personally, I’ve become very skeptical of the whole 2nd-hand smoking business–I think the number of deaths attributed to it are inflated and the Nanny Staters are using those inflated stats to justify their crackdowns. The same thing happened in MD, and lots of businesses that invested in filtration systems to appease the Nannies lost their shirts when it was decided that wasn’t good enough and a statewide ban was needed.

    I don’t smoke, but I like the smell. It doesn’t bother me. I think car exhaust is more responsible for lung problems than 2nd hand smoke. If I still lived in the DC metro area, I would boycott this business.

  7. #7 |  tigre | 

    You don’t have to like cigarette smoke to be against these bans, you only have to hate intrusive governments more.

  8. #8 |  z | 

    The Liberty Tavern IS in fact a smoke free establishment. Patronize it, tell them why, and contribute to it’s success, and maybe the free market will solve this problem.

  9. #9 |  Eric | 

    The article and the tavern’s website note that Liberty is already non-smoking (voluntarily). That makes it strange that they are the launching point for the statewide campaign to involuntarily ban smoking.

    If going non-smoking gave them an advantage, are they just so into the cause that they are willing to give it up? Or has their decision perhaps put them at a disadvantage and so they want to level the playing field through legislation?

  10. #10 |  scott clark | 

    #9

    It is not all that strange that they would campaign for state laws to reinforce their position. If someone challenges their no smoking rule, they would have to defend it themselves. With the state, if someone challenges the rule, they can say don’t blame me, it’s the law. My mom used to do that with the curfew in our township when I was a kid. She’d say, “I’d let you stay out after 11pm, but it’s against the law”, though she actually would have preferred me to be home before 11pm, she would have had to enforce the rule herself.

  11. #11 |  TC | 

    UT just forced all establishments to go no smoking as of Jan 1, 09.

    Our local bar (private club, membership required), owner was interviewed by the newspaper for an upbeat article about how nice it will be. The bar owner observed that since 100% of the bars employees and 90% of the bars customers were indeed smokers, it probably would not be the panacea the nannies figured it would be.

    I stopped in a couple of days ago to see how it was going, I spent $4. Oh and while I was there it seemed that two local cops figured it would be cool to park the cruiser out front, engine running, and camped out inside for half hour I was there, they were still there when I left.

    What hit me entering the place was the horrible stench of fry grease which after two years had permeated the paper ceiling. Between that and a car exhaust, I can but wonder which really is worse. Ok I know the car will kill you within minutes, so it is by far worse.

    http://www.davehitt.com/facts/

    http://www.davehitt.com/2004/name_three.html

  12. #12 |  Kristen | 

    While we’re at it, let’s boycott the George Mason Law School, which employs a number of ex-FTC and ex-government hacks.

  13. #13 |  Jason | 

    This opens my mind to the concept of smoking bans. I didn’t realize that bars that want to eliminate smoking at their own establishments might want a smoking ban so as to even the playing field with their competition (establishments that allow smoking). So much for liberty and free markets.
    http://rightklik.net

  14. #14 |  supercat | 

    //It is not all that strange that they would campaign for state laws to reinforce their position. If someone challenges their no smoking rule, they would have to defend it themselves.//

    What would they have to “defend”? All the proprietor would have to if someone complains about being unable to smoke is suggest that the person find someone else’s bar to feel welcome.

    In a free market, if there are some customers who want to smoke and some who can’t stand smoke, then there should be some bars that allow smoking and others that are smoke-free. That way, both classes of people get what they want. I am amazed at people who feel they are somehow damaged by the fact that smoking is allowed somewhere they have no intention of going. If someone doesn’t think there are enough smoke-free bars in an area, that person should open one. If he’s right about there not being enough, he’ll make a fortune. If he wouldn’t make any money, that’s a pretty good sign that he was wrong about there not being enough smoke-free bars.

  15. #15 |  dsmallwood | 

    i think everyone is right on re: the competitive-disadvantage line. if the Liberty Tavern thought being a non-smoking establishment was so awesome, then why aren’t they advertising the hell out of it and trouncing their competition? i guess they lack the courage of their convictions … THEY want to be non-smoking, but they are losing business to competitors … however, if they could get the state to negate the competitive advantage via coercion … then that’s fair right? right? POS’s

    if i may paraphrase George Will from October 26, 2008:
    “groups understand that it is easier to lobby government … than it is to persuade individuals to purchase this or that product”
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/10/ensuring_health_care_freedom.html

  16. #16 |  KRS | 

    I’ve been to Liberty Tavern several times and they seem to do pretty good business, presumably because they do stand out in the Clarendon/Ballston area as one of about a half-dozen bars that are non-smoking. There is clearly a market for n/s bars in Arlington: see also the new Union Jacks that just opened.

    I can’t imagine why they think a smoking ban would help their business. They’d lose the one big advantage they seem to have now.

  17. #17 |  catallaxy.net » Blog Archive » Liberty Tavern | 

    […] Apparently so. See also Radley, Jonathan and […]

  18. #18 |  Liberty, thy name is fickle — FR33 Agents | 

    […] had the freedom to decide for themselves. In no particular order, here’s David Boaz, Radley Balko, Suetonius of F&S fame, Andrew Roth, Jonathan Blanks and Caleb Brown weighing in for freedom […]

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