Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I Hope You Blow Your Head Off

    Well, OK I'm sorry, that is a bit too harsh.
    But I wish we'd all blow off the Legislature, at the very least, for being such a ridiculous pack of fools and sellouts on the issue of fireworks.
     We've already got two people in the hospital and three fireworks-ignited fires burning out of control, and the holiday isn't even here yet.
Whoops, he held on just a little too long, but it was fun before that.
    Our fireworks situation was bad enough before they decided to authorize a full month of screamingly explosive fireworks and to permit the sale and use of even more dangerous, noxious products than we were already having to endure.
    All we ask is the right to live in peace, quiet and safety in our own homes.
    There is a kind of guy -- it seems like a couple per neighborhood -- who has a moronic fascination with blowing thing up. It's his rush, his power and his ecstasy. This dude sits there all year like an amorphous blimp of Total Patheticism, waiting for his time to come: The Season of Fireworks. Light one. Set off another. Rinse and repeat. Look at the sparkles! Oh yes, yes: the squealing shrieks. The hissing flames that stab at the night sky! It's like, for a moment, you can SHRED LIFE with murderous shards of fire!
    These tragically defective individuals -- maybe it's obsessive-compulsive disorder -- do it over and over and over (and over and over), as mesmerized and mindless as someone at a Vegas slot machine who just can't stop pulling that handle.
    Most of them don't really get started with their ear-splitting antics until the average person has gone to bed. It's obvious that part of their joy is the knowledge that they're bothering people.
    Everyone knows that we have an even greater than usual concern about fires this year, and all it takes is one stray spark to ignite an inferno.
    "There will be fires, and there will be injuries -- some of them probably severe," as one fire marshal put it on the news last night.
Is this the face of patriotism, or of our stupid way of expressing it?
    But it's just good, wholesome fun, right? No, not right.   
    There were an estimated 8,600 severe injuries from fireworks in 2010, according to federal data.  The amount of fireworks used in the United States increased significantly, to 382 million pounds in 2009 from 152 million pounds in 2000, nearly a 150 percent growth spurt, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.
    Fireworks create "noise pollution," which actually damages the hearing of those nearby, but merely deprives the rest of us of the right to live in peace. Fireworks can exceed 140 decibels. Noise at 85 decibels or above can damage hearing. The noise from fireworks traumatizes pets, wildlife and young children.
    Those who use fireworks unleash a large and persistent cloud of toxic particulates, which everyone for blocks around is forced to breathe. Why should we allow them to do this to us? This "secondhand smoke" is far worse than anything a cigarette smoker throws out there, and we don't let those pariahs anywhere near us anymore. 
Of course they're pretty. Lots of things are pretty.
    According to The Ecologist, millennium celebrations in 2000 caused horrific environmental pollution worldwide, filling skies over populated areas with “incalculable amounts of carcinogenic sulphur compounds and airborne arsenic.”
    Huge public fireworks displays are now used year-round at sports events, concerts, New Year's and other holiday celebrations, and even large, fancy weddings, in addition to the Fourth of July and Utah's 24th of July festivities.
    These displays create massive spikes in toxic air pollution that go way, way past the federal standard for "unhealthy" air quality and that keep the air in the unhealthy range well into the next day for miles around. The heavy metals contained in these fine particulates are far worse for our brains, hearts, lungs and our bodies as a whole than our typical, hideous industrial and automobile pollution.
    Once the particulates descend from the air, they get into our water and soil, producing an ongoing pollution problem that affects our bodies, agriculture and wildlife.
    I realize that a lot of people simply don't care about this. But those of us who do should have the right not to be exposed to this unnecessary and deadly menace.
Uh oh -- a bit of bad timing. The instructions made it seem so easy.
    Why do we permit a few pyromaniacs to do this to us?
    Some enlightened states ban the private use of fireworks altogether. Others limit them to the Fourth of July. Few permit the caliber of fireworks that Utah has now legalized. 
     Money, of course, is the motive.   
    The pyrotechnics lobby is relentless in its seamy seduction of public officials with its "legal" bribes.
    The fireworks industry generated $952 million in sales in 2010, a record, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association, and all signs point to big numbers in 2011 as well. Sales to consumers account for roughly two-thirds of the total.
    And that gives our elected representatives another little "revenue stream" from which to quench their insatiable thirst.
"Mommy, did God really say we have to love our neighbors?"
     But in fact, fireworks cost us millions of dollars, as the Deseret News recently pointed out, first in putting on the shows and then in dealing with the aftermath, particularly the inevitable fires.
    Fireworks should simply be banned. At this point in our evolution, it's time to grow out of them. We need to find another way to celebrate that doesn't ravage our environment, deplete public coffers and infringe on the rights of others.
    For all these young men who get such a huge release from setting off shrieking explosions in the middle of the night -- once illegal fireworks with warlike names such as “Untamed Retribution” -- the solution is easy: Send them to Afghanistan. Maybe they'd be so traumatized by the noise that ensues when we blow up an entire country, they'd be cured forever of their fireworks fetish. In the meantime, they could really get off on this:
"Fireworks" are everywhere in Afghanistan.
FOR MORE ABOUT neighborhood assholes (sorry -- not assholes -- just well-intentioned but uninformed people) who infringe on everyone's rights with their blazing fireplace fires, see "Burn in Hell."
Death and environmental devastation can seem so darn cozy if you're INSIDE with your feet up, where there's no TOXIC SMOKE. Woodburning constitutes an average of 50 percent of wintertime particulate pollution, according to the EPA. And the poisons it contains are at least as bad as those in cigarettes.