Ban imbeciles not fireworks

November 11th, 2007 at 5:05 pm by David Farrar

The Herald on Sunday hits the mark with its other editorial also.

Whenever a politician – or anyone else – utters the word “ban”, it’s a sure sign that an overreaction is in progress. That is certainly true of the suggestions aired during the annual fireworks season. Prime Minister Helen Clark said last weekend that fireworks sales could be banned if “people were going to carry on being absolutely ridiculous”. Her remarks were reported after a series of incidents, some of which disrupted her own domestic repose; she said that her leafy Mt Eden neighbourhood was like “downtown Kandahar”.

The gratuitous tastelessness of that particular comparison was regrettable, but the PM was issuing a challenge. And it’s worth noting that, even if only incidentally, the country called her bluff. Acting national fire commander Paul McGill said this year’s was the quietest Guy Fawkes night since records began in 1996. The number of callouts was down 40 per cent on last year, which was itself down 40 per cent on 2005.

A ban on private use of fireworks would be silly, and not just because accidents, as we saw at Alexandra Park, Auckland, can happen at public displays. Seizing on the objects that stupid people use stupidly makes no more sense than banning cars, knives, glass containers and matches – all of which are implicated in mayhem. The Clark administration, which has a busybody reputation, does not want “Let’s stamp out fun” as a campaign slogan. Better to be grateful that so many of us are sensible people.

I should note that I didn’t think John Key’s agreement than a ban was inevitable one day, was the right message either.  If we carry on banning things because of a small proportion misuse it, we’ll be a very sad society.

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40 Responses to “Ban imbeciles not fireworks”

  1. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Fireworks is my line in the sand so I hope Key doesnt support a ban. The problem is basically that the baby boomers are becoming gereiatric and want a quite retirement and they are a powerful voting lobby. But luckily I had a lot of practice making g***powder and fireworks when I was a kid.

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  2. Peak Oil Conspiracy (3,349 comments) says:

    Kevin:

    You raise an interesting point about generational change.

    It brings to mind a recent letter to the editor in my local community newspaper. A self-declared 60-something year-olod complained about noise levels from rock concerts at a nearby venue. It prompted a response the following week, asking the 60-something year-old how many “loud and vigorous concerts” he went to in the heyday of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.

    For me, though, fireworks have become so passe, if only because the decent varieties are banned and only the mini-me varieties are available for purchase.

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  3. pacman (51 comments) says:

    I would like Key to do a u-turn on this one. If nationals vision for NZ is a place where they ban fireworks (yet I am sure pit-bulls have done more damage to kids in the last year) and they shut sunday schools and gym creches due unless they are registered then they have lost the plot. I see Katherine Rich asked a question in parliament the other day but it seems that only Rodney is drawing a philosopical line in the sand and saying that the govt. is becoming too involved in the day to day operation of our lives.

    There is huge ground here and this stuff is not contriversial – who would support the goverment shutting sunday schools because they are not registered with the govt. Frame the arguement right and Labour would look like what they are – Control freaks who treat us like kids.

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  4. David Farrar (1,899 comments) says:

    To be fair to John he didn’t say he wants them banned or supports them. He just didn’t say he would fight a ban either and viewed it inevitable.

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  5. pacman (51 comments) says:

    It is a philosophy – Individual responsibility and limited goverment influence on our lives VS control and deciding what is good for us. I am not libitarian and am happy to be forced to wear my seatbelt but think there was a stand to be made here.

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  6. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    We had some pretty good stuff round our neighbourhood even though guy fawkes is a temporarily a bit passe for me too because our children are grown up. But we will celebrate it with our grand children whether the nanny state likes it or not.

    A couple of possibilities
    1. Have purchasers sign a disclaimer
    2. Change its name to Guy Fawkes/Parihaka day [can't believe I'm suggesting something soooo PC]… since at a large amount of the drive to ban it is from a small proportion of ideologues who can’t stand it that we dare to celebrate an English tradition, and are prepared to use any negative publicity to push their ideolgical cause.

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  7. dad4justice (8,238 comments) says:

    Oh thats right ban fireworks you moronic political nerds . Maybe some gunpowder packed up the rear of some sporting teams and political parties would be a good thing . I will spark the fuse of the Helen super charged turbo rocket . I will aim it at the sun . We can all cheer and clap when the projectile is incinerated in the sun . Oh what a day . Launch all socialist spittles Red Rockets, thank you Guy . Good on ya mate .

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  8. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    I think the 4 day rule worked really well around our place. When politicians still talk about banning fireworks after these restrictions I start to wonder if Guy Fawkes didn’t have a point.

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  9. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    Superb – all the shit that’s going down right now, and Key gets media coverage on his opinions about fireworks – great work boys. Keep it real.

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  10. francis (712 comments) says:

    You can listen to John talk about fireworks, if you want to hear what he said – it is more a reflection on the mood in parliament than anything else:

    http://johnkey.co.nz/index.php?/archives/273-RADIO-KiwiFM-interview-on-fireworks-and-tax.html

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  11. Inventory2 (10,342 comments) says:

    DPF – I agree – but the dilemma for Key is that once he opens his mouth on an issue like this, he has no control over what part of his quote is compressed into a sound-bite, and what context it is played in. Ironic to the Tane & his “Standard/CTU mates are quite happy to abuse Key for allegedly quoting Helen Clark out of context on tax cuts, but equally happy for the media to selectively quote/contextualise anyone who has an opinion that doesn’t tally with theirs. Fairness is fine guys, but it has to go both ways.

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  12. Inventory2 (10,342 comments) says:

    Cheers francis – worth a listen, and puts Key’s comments into context:

    “I’m in the camp that doesn’t says I don’t want to ban everything that’s fun in New Zealand”

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  13. Inventory2 (10,342 comments) says:

    Whoops – I misquoted!! Shows how easy it is!!

    Should be “I’m in the camp that says I don’t want to ban everything that’s fun in New Zealand”

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  14. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    I would have thought Lee C was happy about the heat being taken off given that its his group that is causing all the “shit going down”.

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  15. davidn (28 comments) says:

    First thing I thought of was a quote from a senior analyst when, in a previous incarnation as a computer programmer, I wondered how we could make the programmes more robust against people doing really stupid things.

    He said “Ah, but it’s impossible to make something foolproof because fools are so ingenious.”

    When are we going to learn that bans don’t work? It just criminalises a section of society.

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  16. baxter (893 comments) says:

    I speak for the animals…Ban them.

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  17. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    I thought support for eugenics would have dropped after the Jim Flynn run-in…

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  18. sean (397 comments) says:

    “Ban imbeciles not fireworks” – How?

    As usual, ideologues fail to look at the bigger picture.

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  19. Nick C (336 comments) says:

    Yay, the animals. Lets also ban eating meat and any form of hunting because the animals want it.

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  20. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    There fireworks issue is just another example of governments total aversion to ever tackle a problem and solve it. Just pass more banning legislation and hope for the best. How many times have we seen that?

    Baxter if you don’t know how to lock your dog up on Guy Fawkes night how do you cope with every day life?

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  21. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    My read was that Key was acting in more of a political commentary role than a what he wanted to do. Whether that is wise is another question but it seemed a fairly safe answer to a question put forward – no committment to a ban and all the right noises about safety.

    Clark’s comments about her area where pathetic – everyone gets to see and hear fireworks, it’s not unique to her.

    In some ways it is a strange pass time – heading into summer and people get to let rip with various pyrotechnics. A particularly good show from neighbours of a party I was at involved various bits and pieces landing on us – no harm but there seems to be an inherent risk.

    Nonetheless the point is well made – ban imbeciles not the fun.

    Besides if they ban fireworks they will come after guns next and then all the fun will be gone.

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  22. sean (397 comments) says:

    Nonetheless the point is well made – ban imbeciles not the fun.

    Yes, but how GPT1?
    The HoS, DPF and commentators here have yet to provide a practical solution to the problems relating to the private use of fireworks. So far only fizzers.

    I am sure the Fire Dept would love to hear a solution that minimises the fires and injuries, yet allows for no ban.

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  23. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    Fireworks hooliganism is just a symptom of deeper societal issues. Banning fireworks fixes the problem like band-aids fix cancer.

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  24. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    “It is a philosophy – Individual responsibility and limited goverment influence on our lives VS control and deciding what is good for us.”

    If we agree with this philosophy, why shouldn’t we be liberterians.

    We’re not getting this thinking from the Nats or Labs.
    We’re just getting more of monster govt.
    Why do people want that ??

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  25. thehawkreturns (162 comments) says:

    Slightly off topic but Key’s contribution here is sadly typical of the man.

    John Key (and Hilary Clinton).

    If you try to be all things to all people you end up being of no consequence.

    Key is leading National to another defeat. I have no idea what he stands for as he is too afraid to upset anyone and flip flops as soon as there is a shred of opposition to his or his team’s ideas.

    I’d rate him a great hedge trader….

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  26. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    “Banning fireworks fixes the problem like band-aids fix cancer.”

    But if there are no fireworks, the problems asssociated with them go.

    Noise, burns, animal stress are all symptons of the presence of fire works.
    Take that presence away, you take those problems away.

    Yes, its that simple…. in this case anyway.

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  27. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    hinamanu – true. but should we ban spray cans because irresponsible folks use these to tag walls, fences, building and schools? what about guns? glue is abused as are some pets. where would it all end…. needing a licence to live?

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  28. Peak Oil Conspiracy (3,349 comments) says:

    Krazykiwi:

    The answer is yes! We ungrateful peasants should think support a compulsory licence fee for “prescribed dangerous activities”. It would resolve concerns that the present budget surplus is not sufficient to allow tax cuts. It would also allow our hardworking and conscientious (and ever-caring) Government to protect its golden geese (taxpayers) from themselves. A stable fiscal supply, if you will.

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  29. dad4justice (8,238 comments) says:

    I wish we could ban child abuse , forget the f##king fireworks and think of the abused kids !!

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  30. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    krazykiwi,,

    Acknowledged.

    But,, Fireworks are too random and I agree that they are sprerad out too long, well into christmas and new years by individuals who create an irresponsible and unsettling effect for many old agers and their pets.

    Have properly controlled venues on the night,,, and lets forget Guy anyway. Talk about irelevant.
    They should’ve got rid of the Catholic church with him. It was that evil organisation he was representing.

    I’m sure his real first name was Guido, Italian, ergo, Rome.

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  31. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    “It would also allow our hardworking and conscientious (and ever-caring) Government to protect its golden geese (taxpayers) from themselves”

    Alright!

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  32. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    “Noise, burns, animal stress are all symptons of the presence of fire works.
    Take that presence away, you take those problems away.”

    These are symptoms of peoples inability to take responsibility for themselves and the animals they own because the nanny state does it for us. Why not solve the problem instead of skirting around it and ban the nanny state.

    Someone asked about we want small government and no banning so we are libertarians. NO. Liberttarians want to legalise all drugs so they are in a loony toon class of their own and may as well stay off planet.

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  33. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Fireworks, like piss should be all year round. NZers can’t get enough of something that is hated by the government or officals. If fireworks were for sale all year I doubt we would have then same problems . Fireworks are part of our heritage but if the government so choses to ban them then there shall be a responce and it will not stop .

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  34. Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left (786 comments) says:

    “If we carry on banning things because of a small proportion misuse it, we’ll be a very sad society.”
    thats ignorant
    My wife use to work in the childrens ward of the hospital. In the two weeks around guy fawkes she saw some pretty burned kids.
    This year we had stories of families in grandstands being burnt and a child in a pram 15m away from the fireworks being almost set on fire.
    These people did not misuse the fireworks. The fact is that its not just idiots getting burned.

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  35. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    The vast majority of problems with fireworks were avoidable. If people took responsibility for their own actions, and their own kids and pets. Individual responsibility is the problem not fireworks, but there’s no MSM profit and wealth redistributing compo trail in individual responsibility.

    We can go down the talk show route though if you like and ask why cars aren’t banned, or why parliament doesn’t pass a law to ban violent offenders and murderers who do far more harm than fireworks.

    So I challenge politicians – solve a real problem – get the murder rate down to 2 per year and then we’ll talk about banning fireworks.

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  36. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    and how many animals did you chew on today..?..baxter..?

    ‘for the animals’..eh..?

    you really are ‘full of it’..?

    aren’t you..?

    and y’know..!

    have those miserable sods who want to ban fireworks..

    forgotten the joys/wonders/delights from their own childhood fireworks experiences..?

    and why do the miserable bastards want to just take that away..from this generation..

    and i mean..!

    as a feckin’ culture..we hardly ‘over-celebrate’..eh..?

    so let’s ‘ban’ one of the few we have..eh..?

    clark is feckin’ muldoon re-wrought..

    you can see it in her eyes and mouth..

    when she lectures/bullys..

    when does the finger-wagging start..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  37. Peak Oil Conspiracy (3,349 comments) says:

    Phil:

    Well said – I absolutely agree. But it surprises me that you’re opposed to banning in this case as, intuitively, given your political leanings, I’d expect you to favour bans in a good number of cases. But perhaps I’ve misunderstood you. Do you approach bans on an issue-by-issue basis, or is there a consistent philosophy that guides your opinions?

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  38. llew (1,533 comments) says:

    Baxter if you don’t know how to lock your dog up on Guy Fawkes night how do you cope with every day life?

    fair call – although it hasn’t just been Guy Fawkes night, it’s been the nights before & every night since too.

    And what about the two horses I know of in different parts of the country – one broke its neck trying to jump a fence to escape the noise, the other got wrapped in fencing, pretty much severed a leg on the wire & had to be put down? Not so easy to lock up.

    But on the whole, personally I found ther 4 day thing much better in our neighbourhood. The uni students must have decided to behave this year.

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  39. llew (1,533 comments) says:

    The vast majority of problems with fireworks were avoidable. If people took responsibility for their own actions, and their own kids and pets.

    Agreed

    We can go down the talk show route though if you like and ask why cars aren’t banned, or why parliament doesn’t pass a law to ban violent offenders and murderers who do far more harm than fireworks

    Specious argument – and I know you’re not making it Kevin – but there are already laws governing how cars are driven & for violent offences & murders.

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  40. baxter (893 comments) says:

    Baxter if you don’t know how to lock your dog up on Guy Fawkes night how do you cope with every day life?

    Kevin…………..I tend to cope by considering the impact of my actions on the feelings of others and through them on their animals and on the wild life at large in my neighbourhood….You want to try it, the gratification lasts longer than the fleeting spectacle of a Roman Candle.

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