Monday, July 9, 2007

Spirit of independence

I'm a little late coming to this, but the New York Times ran an atypically light-hearted piece about the hordes of scofflaws from New York and New Jersey who descend on Pennsylvania around Independence Day each year to stock up on pyrotechnic goodies illegal in their home states. It's nice to see that the contempt for "legitimate" authority that characterized Thomas Jefferson and Company still finds a small echo in July 4 festivities.

I was in Maryland, where a fine assortment of fireworks is plentifully available, in the days leading up to Independence Day. While I didn't indulge in anything likely to challenge a professional exhibition, I had the pleasure of introducing my son and his cousins to the joy of fun snaps--those little paper twists filled with a pinch of gunpowder and a bit of gravel that detonate on impact. I have fond memories of waging war games with toy soldiers as a kid and using the snaps as "artillery" to liven up the play combat.

Jasper, the older of my two nephews at almost-five, got the biggest kick out of the little explosives. He insisted on taking one apart to see what made it go "bang."

The heavier artillery that was available for sale certainly tempted me since, oddly enough for a state that's generally pretty live-and-let-live, it's strictly illegal in Arizona. I briefly considered several schemes for smuggling fireworks home, but I discarded all of them as unfeasible in the post-9/11 world or overly Mission-Impossiblish for nothing more than a little fiery entertainment.

Happily, though, once I returned home, it was obvious that several of my neighbors had an easier time of getting hold of the good stuff. I enjoyed their displays--and the raised middle finger to the law that they represented.

Control-freak politicians in the states that outlaw fireworks (among other things) are fond of telling us how they're saving us from ourselves by building a legislative wall between us and our pyrotechnic fun. Severed fingers, scorched shrubbery and ruptured eardrums, they never tire of lecturing us, are the inevitable wages of allowing us to make our own decisions. It's better that we get tackled and dragged away by the always exuberant forces of law and order than risk setting fire to the neighbor's petunias.

Well, they're (sort of) right--some segment of the population will, inevitably, get injured by fireworks, just as people suffer from the misuse of chainsaws, candles and random pointy objects lying around the kitchen.

But it's not the responsibility of politicians to save us from ourselves or to bundle the world in bubble-wrap to protect us from every possible risk.

Lord knows, if we need protection from anything, it's busybody politicians and their pet enforcers.

Maybe those folks smuggling fireworks from state to state should take the time to gather at their local town halls and point their roman candles where they'll do the most good.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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March 18, 2009 11:24 PM  

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