Yesterday, we drove past a temporary storefront preparing to sell fireworks. Next to the stand, a huge sign had been erected, saying "San Bruno has a zero tolerance policy for illegal fireworks". The link above is from the town hall minutes from two years ago, pretty much confirming what the next few days are going to be like. What's even weirder is the number of stands (see map), and that many of the stands are boosters, like "San Bruno Girls Softball", despite sales of fireworks to minors being illegal.
Ok, I kind of get it- aerial fireworks are illegal, but tiny cracklers aren't. But you have to understand- I'm coming from New Jersey, where they're just illegal, full stop. I like professional fireworks displays, but have very little interest (and absolutely no cultural justification) in setting off my own. But the whole thing is fascinating in a "stranger in a strange land" kind of way. Noisemakers like this really push at the constructs of democracy, and so are philosophically interesting to me. Some people in the PDF above say "fieworks scare me, my children, and my animals, and should be banned", but at some point, I want to say, "stop whining!", even though I think they probably have a right to voice their concern and because I think there are certainly people in society who are bullies by nature who decide they want to piss off the overzealous neigbor and get up in their grill, and so go to the edge of unethical harrassment. Some people take the economic approach, and say that an accidental fire might cause more economic damage than the revenue from the fireworks can create, and so are not justifiable. I think this is sensible but how do you reword/put this in terms of ethics? Plus, should something be illegal because some people are incapable of using it responsibly?
Predictably, the industry response is "we comply with all laws". While I respect that response and understand where it is coming from, I'm growing increasingly bored with it. It says nothing, has no content, and when sentences have no content something in me wishes they were left unsaid. I stuggle to find a really good reason why individuals need fireworks to express their freedom.
Also, it amazes me that people will spend hours protesting genetically modified foods as a threat to health and safety and the environment, when you don't see the same
Personally, I really don't care one way or the other, but I wish I did. I want to respect my naturally libertarian leanings, but having been the victim of bullying when I was younger, I have absolutely no faith in any of the possible stances: that humans should have unrestricted freedom to do what they want (because they abuse it); or the fact that law and order can limit the bullying (because, well, quis custodiet..., and because I've seen law used as a tool); or the fact that you should be strong enough to defend yourself (which would seem to be the right choice, but I worry that perpetual war is the endgame in that scenario, and worry that my instinct that some form of fascism is the ultimate correct/"best" form of goverment biases this too favorably).
You know, any system can be abused, and the more I think on it, the more I believe that all systems are inherently flawed. That's probably why although I respect logical positivism and an atheistic, scientific worldview, I don't see myself as buying into it, because it's the sense of system, that there's some single correct set of laws or rule that answers all questions for all time, that is Nephelococcygia.
(and, anyone who thinks that there's redemption in the next world, in Heaven or whatever, really hasn't read Milton the way I have.)