The tree of liberty is sprinkled with the blood of bouncers -- this is what Jefferson might have said about the latest news out of NYC. LI was so riveted by the news in Iraq that we ignored the warnings: our friend, T., wrote us a bitter screed about the banning of smoking in NYC bars, but we thought that he was suffering from a mild hallucination -- nothing so uncommon among LI's friends. But it turns out that T. was simply throwing invective on a legal fact.

Here's a CBS report on the latest atrocity to hit Gotham city:

"The worst did happen just two weeks into the ban. A bouncer was killed after asking a smoker to leave a downtown club. That's one reason why Rabin [a bar owner] wants a police presence outside the city's clubs.

"We're trying to follow your law," says Rabin. "We've asked the people to step outside to smoke, now we have a noise problem that's bothering our neighbors. Help us one way or the other."

The critics say everybody knows smoking is bad for you, but aren't bars and clubs where people are supposed to drink, smoke and carry on? Is the city that never sleeps turning in early?

"This is New York, get used to it," says Michael Musto, who covers New York's nightlife.

Musto says there are too many rules.

"New York used to be a place without a lot of rules," he says. "It had a seediness to it, but it also had an edge. Suddenly, you can't smoke in a bar. What's next? You can't eat in a restaurant?"

Only one bouncer? My God, has the spirit of the minutemen, the spirit of Grant's Army, the spirit of Patrick Henry and Patton, been so extinguished that only one, out of the innumerable bouncers of the city, been forced to pay for actually enforcing that insane rule? King James I, who has been quietly retired, in the history books, as a despotic masturbator, condemned smoking and wrote against it: but even he couldn't ban it among the bravos of that time What next indeed -- the imperialism of the lungs apparently rules, with this little man, Bloomberg, triumphant. We can drill holes in our brain and put that crucial fat on our livers, but we can't put an ashy coating on our trachea, eh?

Now, LI witnessed the Disneyfication of Times Square. It was sad. But one felt that really, the plastic and the bright lights will eventually collect dust and sputter sporadically out, slowly strangled by the taxes and the costs of maintenance and the whore and the adult video place will once again take root -- yes, Minnie and Mickie will again do the beast with two backs before a paying, horny audience until four in the morning. Love will grow in the place of excrement, as Swift put it -- disapprovingly. We think, on the contrary, that this is one of the most hopeful of human traits. Times Square's spirit will definitely triumph over the hypocritical Babbitry in evidence at present. But the ban on smoking is an absolutely bad sign -- as is the current lazy custom of suing tobacco companies because they didn't warn one and all, in the past fifty years, that their products caused cancer. This is a little like suing airplane companies because they didn't warn their customers about gravity. Obviously, state governments, having exhausted the lottery gambit, are pitching for other revenue sources -- avoiding tapping the obvious, who are the rich and the undertaxed one percentile.

Now Austin, our city, is considering some insane version of NYC's law. This is the site of the do-gooders, none of whom, I would bet, go to many bars in Austin -- they are probably too busy watching tv in their big Round Rock encomienda, the jerks. . But this is... Texas. We do carry guns here. We will not go gentle into that good night of the servile state. Here's a group dedicated to fighting the poison: Go to the site, sign a petition, don't allow this to happen.

It is one thing to be herded, like sheep, into an illegal war. Or to be herded, like sheep, into accepting an illegal president. But to be herded like sheep into accepting smokeless bars?