The Daily Gamecock

Column: Why not ban students from eating fried fish too?

The other day, I was walking by the Russell House patio and saw a guy sitting there eating a big plate of fried fish.

I thought to myself: “Doesn’t he know what’s in that? All those harmful, unnatural ingredients — he’s got to know those are bad for him. He’s going to kill himself if he keeps it up...”

Then my thoughts were interrupted by the terrible smell of the fish, giving me a coughing fit and causing my eyes to water. “That was awful,” I thought to myself when I finally cleared the noxious cloud. “They really should ban that stuff on campus.”

It’s extremely unpleasant when I have to be around someone who eats fried fish. Their breath smells bad, and sometimes that stench even seeps into their clothes. And when I have to walk by someone who is eating fish, it’s even worse — the smell is stronger right from the source.

But of course, I have the choice to not associate myself with people that eat fried fish, so I don’t have to smell it as often, and on the few occasions I have no choice but to work with them, I can offer them a breath mint, so it’s not so bad.

When they’re outside eating fried fish, I have the option of walking further around them, so I don’t get close enough to smell it, or I can just hold my breath until I pass them. It’d be selfish of me to demand that they change their lifestyle so that I don’t have to walk an extra 20 feet.

Banning people from eating fried fish on campus from a health perspective would also be ridiculous; people’s health decisions are theirs alone to make. Just because countless studies have shown that the choice they’re making is unhealthy doesn’t mean I have the right to make it for them. If they want to kill themselves slowly, they have every right to do so.

If you haven’t yet caught on, I’m not actually talking about fried fish; I’m talking about cigarettes. When you look at it from this point of view, it’s easy to see that a tobacco ban is just as absurd as a fictitious fried fish ban, and for the same reasons.

Both are little more than minor annoyances to those who don’t partake in them, and both are bad health decisions that people should be free to make — or not make — on their own.

I recognize that the USC has every right to ban whatever they want on their grounds, but their decision to ban tobacco on campus is the wrong call.

For the vast majority of students and faculty, it will mean no longer having to smell something bad for a few seconds once or twice a week.

But for students who currently smoke, it will mean having to balance kicking a tough addiction with their classes and obligations — all before the end of the year.