Ban imbeciles not fireworks

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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