IT was a peaceful Fourth here (in other words, not at all in accordance with the hyper-militarization of Every Holiday Not Directly Involving Jesus), no houses in the neighborhood burned down or nothin'.
The drought had led Mayor Gomer F. Ballard, USMC, to ban the use of personal fireworks for a week, a move which probably kept the number of houses destroyed locally in the low double digits. The Fireworks Retailers Association at first threatened to challenge the ban in court, then decided, within 24 hours, that playing Good Corporate Citizen in a time of emergency was a better ploy.
Now, for those of you who missed it, fireworks other than sparklers were illegal in Indiana until a decade ago, when the World's Third Worst State Legislature™, having collected the obligatory ten years worth of prepayments, legalized everything short of 1/4 sticks of dynamite for personal use. Because Freedom!, of course. A couple years and a few more suitcases full of cash later it came back to include everything up to a 1/2 stick of dynamite, which brought the state in line with the industry standard. (The revision also removed the comical provision in the earlier law which required participating Hoosiers to sign a pledge agreeing to fire the things off legally. Har har har!) And just in case anyone imagined this really was consumer-driven, the freedom-lovin' anti-statists of both the Republican and the Republican-Democratic parties attempted to force the hand of any local community which presumed to ban or restrict the things anyway, by writing into the law the fucking hours the things could be used. Which the law doesn't, actually, since overriding every local noise and fire regulation in the state was beyond even these bozos. Instead it actually establishes hours when the things positively cannot be used, but it was immediately bruited about that one was free to explode shit until 10pm at night, midnight on holidays, 365 days a year. I don't know if this little service cost the retailers' lobby extra, or if it's part of the package.
(By the way, the retailers not only had standing to sue; they probably had the law on their side, since it also excludes fireworks from emergency bans.)
Anyhoo, it was fairly remarkable last night to walk outside in the gloaming and here nothing but the earliest of cicadas. The booming, naturally of the loudest and most window-shaking variety legally available, didn't start until after dark, ended by midnight, sorta, and was too far away to locate and report.
It was an interesting object lesson: pleas for sanity and self-regulation had been all over the local newscasts for a fortnight; those are the same people who welcomed a new category of advertiser to town a few years back, and who run the obligatory Mannequin Getting Its Head Blown Off video every year the way some people go to church for Easter. Except the people in church don't chuckle, or sneer, while the service is on. Then Republican local governments all over the state started banning the things, obliging the local teleprompter readers to hunt down people who stockpile enough explosives to take down a Caribbean dictator each summer, but who, of course, told the cameras they'd be observing the ban, because Common Sense. If there was actually someone out there in Teevee Land who realizes this stuff isn't being sold to the most responsible and civic-minded among us, and that now they were left hoping that drunken yahoos didn't burn their own homes to the ground, they managed to conceal it.
So then, despite some grumbling, Freedom-loving Americans by and large abdicated their precious rights for the Common Good, and Libertoonianism-spouting governments turned draconian. Even Mitch Daniels gave the bans his approval.
He didn't exactly explain why, yet again, the One True Religion of unfettered piracy fell short. Or why our dedication to Freedom always seems to last just until his sort needs something.