The War On Buckyballs
I confess. I miss Jarts.
If you are of a certain age, you remember Jarts, a game similar to horseshoes where players toss lawn darts at plastic rings. I say "remember" because Jarts were banned for sale by The Consumer Product Safety Commission as being unreasonably dangerous back in 1988. It seems that the CPSC determined that if people threw lawn darts at each other, injuries could occur.
Gee, who would have thought?
For the uninitiated, Buckyballs are small, really powerful round rare earth magnets. You take the little round magnets and stick them together to form various shapes. They are primarily marketed to adults as desktop accessories.
Not surprisingly, if you eat these little round magnets, bad things will happen to you. That's why Buckyballs carry so many warning labels that you might think they were explosives. The bottom line of all the warnings though is that they're not for human consumption.
Over the last few years, more than 2.5 million sets of Buckyballs have been sold. Since 2009, there have been about a dozen incidents where people (mostly children) swallowed Buckyballs. Again, if you ingest these things, you're probably headed to the ER.
In any event, the CPSC has issued its first "stop-sale" order in 11 years claiming that Buckyballs "pose an substantial risk of injury to the public". At least they pose a substantial risk to the portion of the public that chooses to have them for lunch.
What a load of you-know-what.
Buckyballs are not inherently dangerous and, if used properly, pose no safety risk at all. They only have "a risk of injury" if completely misused - in other words, swallowed. Of course, you can say the same thing about most of the items currently on my desk.
If you swallow paper clips, staples, erasers or push pins, you're probably headed to the hospital. If you take my letter opener and jam it into your stomach, you may be headed for the morgue. So why then aren't we banning paper clips and other routine office supplies?
I don't own a set of Buckyballs myself but I don't see them as being especially dangerous. They're certainly no more dangerous then the thousands of other products on the market today that can cause harm if misused.
Big Brother banned lawn darts. Big Brother is now trying to ban Buckyballs. Pretty soon, they'll be coming after my stress ball (because a kid could choke if he tried to swallow it).
Heaven forbid that we should expect adults to behave responsibly and keep stuff out of the reach of children. I guess it's just easier for the government to try to legislate the product out of existence.
Hence the war on Buckyballs.