Fireworked Up


Call it an explosive debate. A very explosive debate.

Every year, as families make plans for Independence Day, public health experts, firefighters, dog owners, and killjoys across the political spectrum argue for ever more restrictions on the ancient and venerable practice of setting off fireworks. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has named this July Eye Injury Prevention Month, advising parents to "leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals" and "never let children play with fireworks of any type."  

Most tsk-tskers don't stop with stern admonitions. Many counties and states opt for heavy fines or outright bans. In Colorado, 17 counties have either banned fireworks or criminalized the use of anything fun. Ohio allows the sale of fireworks, but improbably tells celebrants to go start fires somewhere else. Oregon and several other states ban the use of Roman candles and bottle rockets in government-owned parks.  

This year, the perennial battle between "responsibility" and "fun" has tilted much more in favor of the responsible set, with wildfires raging in Western states, a dearth of rain in California, and New Yorkers who are "scared shitless" of explosions or even loud car backfires.

Indeed, for perhaps the first time since Yankee Doodle stuck a feather in his cap, this year, those who set off fireworks are being chastised as unpatriotic. That certainly seems to be the upshot of a recent Joseph Farah column. (Full disclosure: He's a former boss of mine). Writing in WorldNetDaily, Farah wondered, "How can this nation celebrate its independence every year by supporting the evil empire in Beijing?" He called for all God-fearing freedom-loving Americans to boycott fireworks made in China – that is to say, virtually all fireworks – because of the Chinese government's many human rights abuses.

In today's America, it seems, the rockets' red glare has been deemed not only unsafe, but unprincipled as well.