Last week, in a post about the dramatic increase in New York's cigarette tax, I suggested that Daily News columnist Celeste Katz had mocked Assemblyman Michael Benjamin's warning that the hike would help terrorists by making it more lucrative to smuggle smokes from low-tax jurisdictions. Katz assures me that was not her intent, and upon reflection the evidence that she found Benjamin's concerns "patently absurd" (mainly the headline and a rhetorical question ending with three question marks) is ambiguous. Although I am conditioned to view the formulation "if X, the terrorists win" as a joke, Benjamin himself said, "Terrorists win when smokers/grocers buy bootleg, untaxed cigarettes." My reading of Katz's piece may have been influenced by the tone of the Gothamist post that led me to it, which ended with the line, " That's right folks, pay the tax or the terrorists win."
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