|By G. Michael Dobbs|
Sometimes columns practically write themselves and this one is no exception. The Fourth of July provided everything I needed.
My wife and I never go away for the Fourth. We never go off to see fireworks. That's because there are plenty of fireworks in my neighborhood. Illegal fireworks, but clearly who cares?
For years our three big dogs were terrified of the sound and so we stayed home. Lucky the Wonder Bichon isn't terrified. While he will bark at a falling leaf, he seldom seems ruffled at the sound of explosions.
So I stick around just to make sure my neighbors don't set fire to my house or yard.
Oh pshaw, Dobbs! You're just too uptight. Nothing is going to happen, you might say.
Well, there have been homes set on fire because of fireworks and people have injured themselves. The public safety aspect undoubtedly has kept them illegal in the Commonwealth.
Of course our fellow New England states where they are legal are only too happy to sell them to us.
Now, I'm no explosive prude. I've fired off a few fireworks in the past, but I've done it where it was legal.
In my neighborhood we have one household that must spend hundreds of dollars on fireworks. They put on a long, loud, colorful show right on the street. They don't try to hide.
For many years I've picked up the spent rocket remains out of my yard.
One of my favorite July Fourth memories was standing in my back yard and hearing a father trying to teach and getting irritated about it his pre-school son how to hold a sparkler. The kid didn't want to hold it and dad was determined to overcome his fear.
Now, I've talked to the police and was told straight to my face by a commanding officer that they would never respond to a fireworks call. There were too many of them, I was told.
So what's the point of fireworks being illegal, if the police are not going to enforce the law?
So I'm calling for fireworks to be made legal. What the hell? If a house catches on fire or a kid is hurt, that's just the price of freedom, right?
Perhaps Libertarians have something. If we don't have public safety laws and allow people to decide for themselves whether or not to play with an M-80 after a few beers or wear their seatbelt while driving or play their car stereos so loud they can't hear outside noise, then natural selection kicks in.
Of course some innocent people might get hurt, but that's just this crazy Darwin thing!
Somehow, I don't think this was what Thomas Jefferson was thinking about over 200 years ago.
This column actually represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028.