Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Dear Lawn-Dart Manufacturer . . .

Dear Lawn-Dart Manufacturer:

I fondly remember your product from my childhood, and I was aggrieved to read recently that the federal Consumer Products Safety Commission has banned the manufacture and sale of lawn darts within the United States. I understand that the CPSC's prohibition on your livelihood has been in place for over 20 years, but it occurs to me presently that there may be a workaround — a loophole — that you haven't considered.
As I understand the regulation, the Commission decided to proceed with the lawn-dart ban (notwithstanding the considerable sporting enthusiasm for your product) after finding that irresponsible lawn-dart use had resulted in a number of accidental injuries and deaths. The CPSC lays out a pretty compelling case, after all: 670 ER visits? Three children killed between 1970 and 1988? Your goose sounds pretty cooked, Mr. Lawn-Dart Manufacturer.

But what if I told you it wasn't? What if I told you there's a product out there that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, caused 30,694 deaths in 2004 alone — and it's still on the market?

Your problem, LDM, isn't the inherently dangerous nature of your product. It's your marketing. You've promoted lawn darts as a toy — a game for suburbanites to play at summer barbecues. It seems like fun, but it ends in blood and disaster: enter the killjoys at CPSC. But what if you — and this might sound crazy, Lawn-Dart Manufacturer, but bear with me — what if you marketed lawn darts as instruments designed for the express purpose of causing grievous bodily harm to other people? In short, what if you marketed them as "arms?"

Bingo. There's your magic word. I should clarify: the magic word isn't bingo (although magicians are known to use it), but arms. Arms — that is, products that don't just accidentally injure and kill people, but are actually designed, marketed, and sold for the very purpose of injuring and killing people — are protected by a constitutional amendment. You can impose modest conditions and requirements on the sales of arms, but just you try to ban their manufacture and sale in these free United States.

Brilliant, right? Now what I've done is, I've taken the liberty of drawing up some promotional brochures — storyboards of an old woman drawing her concealed lawn-dart, whirling it expertly through the air and piercing the spleen of a masked assailant in a city street. I've got another one where gangs are lined up in a back alley, hurling lawn-darts at each other in a pitched battle to claim a city block of turf. And see this one here? This is a photo of lawn-dart enthusiasts who formed a militia in Michigan. They meet on Saturdays and talk about overthrowing the government. Send these alongside a strongly-worded cover letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and we'll have your darts back on sale in Army-Navy stores in a week. (Of course, we'll have to keep them locked in display cases with the numchuks and Rambo knives, but that just adds mystique, doesn't it?)

Before signing off, I want to say that I offer this advice not expecting any remuneration or royalty payments. Might be nice if you made a modest donation to the Feigned Outrage Web Development Fund, but it's not necessary. It's enough to know that I made a difference.





Anonymous said...

Wow, that was a lengthy, windy discourse. Of course, I agree with your aggrieved position. But where were you during my crusade for reinstating realistic cap guns? The NRA's "slippery slope" was my central argument, alas it was met with deaf ears. I guess the "caps causing hearing loss" turned out to be true after all.

Anonymous said...

im playing lawn darts tomorrow got a half acre - screw everyone

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