Monday, December 14, 2009

CPSIA - Missing the Point

I hate to beat a dead horse but something is amiss in the debate over safety policy in the community interested in the CPSIA debacle. As readers of this space know, Sean Oberle and I have engaged in a spirited exchange of views lately. In his latest short reference to me and my opinions, he criticizes my choice of words: "I stand by my criticism. I believe that certain words -- visceral terms like terrorist, rapist, murderer -- should be reserved for the actual perpetrators of heinous and brutal acts of violence. I believe that using them otherwise, no matter how justified the user's anger, is inexcusable."

I wanted it noted for the record that I have not used the terms "rapist" or "murderer" in this blog to my knowledge. "Terrorist", certainly, but not those other terms.

Frankly, if I can dish it out, I have to be able to take it, so I have no problem with Sean having his own views on the subject of my diction. However, whether or not my words are offensive, the big issues in my blog do not relate to how I express myself. In this case, the issue I raised was the behavior of self-appointed public representatives (the consumer advocates) who wreak too much harm IMHO. To counter my clear argument with a continuing attack on my choice of words is to miss the point entirely.

I think the debate over safety and over the way we govern ourselves is just too important to be trivialized by arguments over whether I used a "bad" word. Let's stick to the issues and try to resolve them. In this case, the consumer groups are misbehaving, seriously misbehaving. You have CEH turning in sandals for lead in the insoles, GoodGuide turning in Zhu Zhu Pets for failing an invalid test (and hyping an imaginary health risk that presents virtually no chance of causing harm to anyone), Illinois PIRG criticizing toys with lead levels above ZERO, and Kids in Danger promoting the notion that small companies are "the Trojan Horse" of big business and big chemical companies who are poised to swoop down and gut the law for their own benefit. The coordinated hype of these groups, irresponsible individually and collectively, is terrorizing the public, whether Sean Oberle likes the term or not. THAT'S the issue.

Feel free to ignore my words . . . but please heed my message.


jennifer said...

so true! and i also think it doesn't matter that good guide isn't a "consumer group" by definition. not sure what actually qualifies one as a "real" consumer group, maybe it is being a non-profit - always asking for money type group - who has to justify their role in life by attacking companies - maybe that is a "real" consumer group.

it doesn't matter, good guide is still a consumer group, they are just organized differently.

Anonymous said...

I so agree. I think that they are following a passion and sometimes that can make one blind to the harm they may actually be doing in the name of "good".

Sadly now they have created two types of parents, those who live in fear that all products are dangerous for their children and those who are smart enough to see the extremism and scare tactics.

These groups are losing so much support.

I do believe that the concept of consumer groups is good for america, but any group can lose its way and these groups you mention certainly have.