As if the stories of actual fireworks mishaps and the wealth of “fingers blown off” folklore isn’t enough
What would you do without them? Awareness Raisers. Get Tough Guys. Safety Nannies. Law Enforcers. All of them: a real collection of busybodies, and worse.
Unfortunately, San Jose, California isn’t immune. We too have our busybody pettifoggers; like Councilman Sam Liccardo, who somehow finds time in his busy schedule and room in his heart to help us poor and clueless souls through the long and dangerous night of Independence Day (yea; ironic, eh?). Oh, Dear God; save us, Sam; …and our children. Don’t forget the children!
So I’m talking about this little press release and the email announcing it from his assistant — who surely felt it very important to make sure it was perfectly understood that ALL FIREWORKS ARE ILLEGAL, “including ‘safe and sane’ fireworks (like sparklers)…” Yea, we wouldn’t want people to tend to their own “safe and sane” affairs now, would we? That press release provides me with a sufficient dose of overreaching paternalism to do me for about a whole year.
Run for your life. He’s got firecrackers.
You can’t even make this stuff up.
How do you ultimately deal with someone like Sam “Get Tough” Licardo?
“This Fourth of July, we’ll be declaring independence from late-night noise, fire scares, and safety risks to our kids…”
How about restoring Independence from the likes of Licardo, who, I’m
quite confident has no genuine concept of the essence of what
“Independence Day” really stands for.
What a larceny; stealing the language of freedom — of freedom and liberty
— to inform people that celebrating with a little bang can get them a
hefty fine, or even jail time. Real spirit of Independence there, Sam.
I maybe could be even more disgusted at such an appalling smear and
misappropriation of a great ideal; that is, if I wasn’t so sad that
this sort of thing can pass by ten thousand people without a single one
standing up to take note of such an obscene treatment of a concept that
apparently has no place in the halls of San Jose’s administration.
And isn’t it as though they endeavor to sound as absurd and
shrill as possible? Sparklers are “illegal” in San Jose? SPARKLERS???
You mean like the delightful little sparkly things you put on birthday
and anniversary cakes that make celebrants smile and laugh? Those
things? “ILLEGAL IN SAN JOSE?” Yep; looks like we’re talkin’ “ZERO
TOLERANCE” — refuge of the mindless and lazy.
…Now, usually, I find all the neighborhood fireworks a bit
tiresome and moderately annoying, but it’s not really a big deal. This
year, it’ll be music to my ears. C’mon scofflaws: Bring It.
…Yea, I know. People sometimes get hurt with them (just like in
cars, on bikes, and any number of other things people enjoy). It’s
unfortunate, but the risks I and others decide to accept are nobody’s
business but our own. Sam Licardo, and guys like him, use the force of
their office to threaten people with fines and even jail time for
participating in peaceful activities that some other people fear, and
not always on a rational basis. And just as often, it seems, such
irrationally-based fear is nurtured and encouraged; for it provides
people like Licardo “victims” to champion — and there’s nothing a
politician likes more than helpless “victims.”
They’ll even lie to promote the fear that creates “victims” and feeds their agenda. For instance, from the press release:
“In 2004, eight people died from fireworks-related incidents; four more died the following year.”
Now, that paragraph made me immediately smell a rat because it
lacked specifics one would normally find, like who compiled such a
statistic, what location the statistic covers, and so on. But according
to the National Fire Protection Association and The Alliance to Stop
“There were no reported civilian deaths [in 2004].” (link)
And according to the American Pyrotechnics Association, while
fireworks consumption has risen from 29 million pounds in 1976 to over
281.5 million pounds in 2005 (871% increase), fireworks-related
injuries have decreased from 39.3 injuries per 100,000 pounds in 1976
to 3.8 injuries per 100,000 pounds in 2005 (90% decrease). (PDF link)
While I’m sure that there are a number of factors that contribute to
such an astounding record of achievement, one thing can be said for
certain: prohibition, such as that promoted by Sam Licardo-esque
busybodies did nothing to contribute to that. Usage went up
871%. Rather, I would suspect that the largest contribution comes from
manufacturers themselves, employing better quality control, and such
quality enhancement was financed by the dollars paid by the consumers
of these products.
In fact, guys like Sam Licardo, in order to promote themselves,
actually harm people. Another thing missing from a lot of injury
statistics is whether the fireworks that caused injury were
manufactured by legitimate and conscientious companies who want repeat
business year after year, or home made. While some good quality
fireworks will make their way into San Jose from outside San Jose, the
lack of legally available outlets will have the effect of increasing
the amount of home-made concoctions, and that’s were you’ll find some
real danger worthy of a good dose of legitimate fear. But either way,
Licardo still gets his column inch in the paper that says he stands
there to protect you.
Now, if you read that press release, surely you see that the clear
intent is to get you to believe the exact opposite of the reality. The
intent is that you irrationally fear fireworks, that you grossly
overestimate the risk of even being around them, and that you look for
saviors in people like Sam Licardo, who, really, are simply out to
promote themselves and don’t mind dishonestly perpetuating overblown
fear in order to do it.
Never let yourself be a fool for someone who can’t even get an honest job.
Update: Sam Liccardo responds.