Saturday, August 10, 2019

When will enough ever be enough?


I’m not an eloquent writer. I type up some sentences, and as long as the nouns and verbs are pert near where they’re supposed to be, I’m happy. Same goes for me when it comes to public speaking. I’ve never been described as succinct. I’m not even sure what the word means.

So, when bad things happen in this country, things that keep me awake at night thinking thoughts like, “Surely, they will do the right thing this time,” and “How can good people just stand by and let this happen?” and “Can I write a story that would make a difference?”, I know I can’t, and I’m honest with myself enough to know it would be silly for me to even try.

So instead, I’ve decided to address three subjects that have been weighing on my mind lately – haggis, Kinder Surprise Eggs and lawn darts.

I have eaten haggis – traditional Scottish haggis served in a traditional Scottish restaurant – and I can honestly say I thought it tasted quite nice. Most people I know have the exact opposite reaction, especially when they learn haggis is made with sheep lungs and is boiled in an animal’s stomach.

A few years ago, I decided to celebrate the birth of Scottish poet Robert Burns in a ceremony called Burns Night. It’s an annual celebration that happens every 25th of January, and the main dish is haggis. Except you can’t get traditional haggis in the United States. It’s been banned since 1971.

“But sir,” I can almost hear a true-blooded Scottish-American say in protest at that 1971 congressional meeting, “a traditional haggis has never harmed a soul. Haggis doesn’t kill people; people kill people.”

Nevertheless, traditional haggis was banned. Just like Kinder Surprise Eggs.

I’ve never eaten a Kinder Surprise Egg. In fact, before I started doing “research” for this article, I’d never even heard of Kinder Surprise Eggs. But they’re banned – banned because in the middle of this chocolate egg is a little plastic toy.

I can see how the U.S. government could be concerned about people choking on the object – in fact, since the eggs were created by Ferrero in 1974, 10 children worldwide have choked to death on them – but to ban them seems a bit heavy-handed.

“But sir,” I can almost hear a true-blooded American chocolate lover say in protest at that congressional meeting, “if Kinder Surprise Eggs are outlawed, only outlaws will have Kinder Surprise Eggs.”

Nevertheless, Kinder Surprise Eggs were banned. Just like metal-spiked lawn darts.

I used to play with metal-spiked lawn darts (or Jarts) when I was a kid. It was so much fun to toss the darts toward a ring on the ground and watch them stick in the yard like a kid-friendly javelin.

Unfortunately, they weren’t all that kid friendly. A final ban on the toys came in 1988 after 7-year-old Michelle Snow was killed when she was hit by one of the darts. Michelle’s father, David, testified before a House subcommittee regarding the dangers of lawn darts, and successfully campaigned for them to be banned.

“But sir,” I can almost hear a true-blooded American lawn dart lover say in protest at that congressional meeting, “the only thing that can stop a bad guy with lawn darts is a good guy with lawn darts.”

Nevertheless, lawn darts with metal spikes were banned.

Finally, let me leave you with this wee little tidbit: The U.S. Constitution was written at a time when “bearing arms” referred to muskets that took 20 seconds to reload and weren’t all that accurate. Today, almost 40,000 firearm deaths happen every year.

Obviously, we could do something about that – if we really wanted to.

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