Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Altria #3 - What Were Those Guys Smoking? (3/23/10)

Today is my final installment on Judge Holwell's Altria decision. I today have nothing to offer of tax substance (without making any claims that I have previously offered anything of tax substance). I do provide editorial comment. I caution my readers that, if they are looking for tax crimes nuggets, they won't find them in today's blog.

First, I went to Altria's web site here. The web site tell us that Altria, the maker of Phillip Morris cigarettes (including Marlboro, remember the Marlboro man -- actually more than one -- but three of whom, according to Wikipedia, died of lung cancer caused by, well, I don't have to say), supports regulation of cigarettes. If you believe that, Altria would have liked to have had you on the jury in its case.

Second, I just happen now to be teaching a series at my Church on the History of English Bible Translations. A pivotal focus of the series is, of course, the King James or so-called authorized version of the Bible. King James gets a lot of credit for that version. King James also was quite prescient about the horrors of smoking tobacco. In 1604 shortly after the Hampton Conference which started the process leading to the printing of the KJV in 1611, King James wrote a treatise called "A Counterblaste to Tobacco." The whole treatise (which may be viewed here); see also Wikipedia here) is a great read (and relatively short), but here is a snippet for flavor (in what is now called Early Modern English, about the same time Shakespeare was on his stage):

Have you not reason then to bee ashamed, and to forbeare this fllthie noveltie, so basely grounded, so foolishly received and so grossely mistaken in the right use thereof? In your abuse thereof sinning against God, harming your selves both in persons and goods. and raking also thereby the markes and notes of vanitie upon you: by the custome thereof making your selves to be wondered at by all forraine civil Nations, and by all strangers that come among you. to be scorned and contemned. A custome lothsorne to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse.
Now, if you like the way those guys expressed themselves in those days, you have the King James Bible 1611 edition, available from any number of sources, but I point particularly to the KJV Translator's Preface here.

Third, now, I just wonder whether those Altria guys were smoking when they got into this goofy deal and then when they decided to litigate it -- particularly before a jury and, if so, what were they smoking?

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