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John Spragens Jr. An encouraging word Will things never improve? Who knows, but there is a good sign in the results of a recent Gallup poll. Sixty percent of the teenagers quizzed on their degree of racial tolerance said they have close friends of the opposite race, and 68 percent said they would like to have more. Lest you think that the “liberal East” skewed these national figures, Southern teenagers showed a slightly greater desire for interracial friendships than their Northeastern counterparts. Worked up in Lubbock Protesting farmers are not the only ones stirring things up in Lubbock. Alemeida “Skeet” Workman, recently appointed by her good friend Dolph Briscoe to the Texas Commission on the Status of Women, has thrown down the gauntlet to Panhandle feminists, and they are responding in kind. In an interview with the Texas Tech University Daily, Workman said she would tell her colleagues on the commission that Lubbock women are opposed to sex education in schools, federally funded day-care centers and abortions, the Equal Rights Amendment, and equality for homosexuals. “Any woman worth her salt can find someone she can afford to care for her children,” was the way she dismissed the need for day-care facilities. Battered women? “Any woman who has a problem can walk into Rick Arnold: organizing to fight fanatics Huff and PUFF Smokers are the newest minority group at the rear of the American bus, says a Lubbock man who ought to know. In what he describes as an attempt to regain the rights smokers have lost, Rick Arnold has organized his populist People United to Fight Fanatics \(PUFF for smokers have gone up in . . . er . . . thin air, with the enactment of anti-smoking legislation. Arnold says smokers aren’t the only persons who stand to lose from the restrictions now enforced against them. The mentality that spawned such ordinances eventually could endanger other groups, Arnold believes. “Who will be the next to be legislated out of existence?” he asks. “The garlic eater? The person who doesn’t bathe as often as he should? The parents of unruly children?” His argument apparently has struck a responsive chord in the land, or at least among its estimated 53 million smokers. Since 250 letters introducing the organization were mailed out nationwide in October, Arnold says he’s received more than 100,000 letters of support in return, many containing money. PUFF had its genesis in the sky between Phoenix and Lubbock last summer when Arnold and his wife Judie were forceddue to overbookingto sit in the plane’s non-smoking section. When the Arnolds decided to flout the prohibition on smoking in their section, a stewardess asked them to extinguish their cigarettes, noting the airline “could discriminate against smokers, but not non-smokers.” Then and there, the crusade was launched. The story of PUFF has been chronicled by Paul Harvey on national radio and by commentators on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning, America.” Arnold boasts of invitations to appear on NBCTV’s “Tomorrow Show” and the “Tonight Show.” He’s even received a letter of apology from the airline, and an admission that the attendant erred in making involuntary non-smokers out of the Arnolds. The self-educated Arnold, a professional chef by trade and a former commercial airline pilot, sees no contradiction in labeling his critics “militant antismokers.” They have, he says, dumped raw garbage on his lawn, jerked down his Christmas decorations, and threatened his life. Arnold claims to be misunderstood. “I’m not pushing tobacco,” he says. “In fact, I think it’s bad for you. The whole question is my rights as an American to do as I see fit. I’ve traveled the world over and found no better place than right here. But a lot of bums are trying to screw it up.” Besides championing the anti-antismoking cause, Arnold’s paving the way for an attack on the 55 m.p.h. speed limit. The lowered speed limit, he claims, is the result of a “false oil embargo and self-imposed gas shortage” that has allowed insurance companies to glean more money than ever, presumably because 55 m.p.h. laws have led to a reduction of highway accidents and fewer insurance claims. Curious. Robert Meyer, an assistant U.S. agriculture secretary before President Carter removed him late last year, is on retainer to PUFF, ostensibly to inform members about pending civil liberties legislation from the nation’s capital. But, Arnold says, Meyer’s role eventually may switch to that of straight-out Washington lobbyist for the group. Sylvia Teague 11 THE TEXAS OBSERVER