If it's forbidden fruit you're looking for, forget the Garden of Eden. The Garden State offers something so much better. Something that can provide a spark, light up your life, and keep your flame burning bright.
It's a sparkler. And they're illegal statewide. So if it's fun you're looking for this Fourth of July, be careful of lighting those nefarious instruments of destruction. Unlike merely incurring original sin, possession of sparklers is far worse: fines and a possible trip to a Jersey prison.
The real sin, however, isn't that sparklers are banned, but the effort put into enforcing that law.
New Jersey is apparently the safest state in the union because, given the sizable state police resources used to combat fireworks, it must be free of murders, rapes, robberies and drugs.
In case you're wondering, fireworks always rank right up there as one of the most pressing issues, along with curbing your dog and jaywalking. Clearly, controlling such items of mass destruction is paramount in the Garden State.
The threat of anyone in New Jersey enjoying themselves over the Fourth is so great, so irksome to government, that undercover storm troopers (sorry, meant "state" troopers) are being sent across enemy lines (the Jersey-Pennsylvania border) to stake out the parking lots of fireworks stores. There, they lie in wait for consumers with Jersey tags.
After stealthily tracking those individuals on their return trip, they radio to units on the down side of the bridge who nail the lawbreakers. In doing so, they perpetuate the public's feeling that too many police are being used as revenue collectors.
(This is nothing new, as Pennsylvania state police run stakeout operations in Delaware liquor store parking lots, nailing those avoiding the staggering 18 percent Johnstown Flood Tax on wine and booze, a tax instituted to rebuild that city from the flood of 1936!)
Does the government have nothing better to do? Is it so safe that Jersey police need to harass their citizens in another state?
And it's not like New Jersey ever had the most dangerous city in America. Oh wait. It does: Camden.
Which can only mean that Camden’s residents are safe walking down the street.
But just read the headlines to see that Camden is as dreadful as ever. So can it really be that the New Jersey's leaders willingly place more emphasis on controlling sparklers than they do preventing people from getting shot?
And it's not just New Jersey citizens who are being targeted. Drivers from other states who bought fireworks in Pennsylvania, and made several stops after leaving the store, still got nailed after crossing into Jersey. Undercover police are stooping to such deception that they are tracking fellow Americans in another state, potentially for hours on end, after buying fireworks legally, on merely the possibility that person might cross into New Jersey.
New Jersey officials even had the audacity to complain to Pennsylvania officials about the "legal loophole" of allowing Jersey residents to buy fireworks in Pennsylvania.
Loophole? It's not a loophole. It's freedom, clearly a principle that exists in small quantities across the Delaware River. What right does an official in New Jersey have to tell its citizens that they cannot engage in a legal activity in another state? Where does the government's power grab end?
And let's be honest. The regulations banning fireworks in New Jersey don’t stem from preventing forest fires, but are all about a paternalistic government that believes it, not the people, knows best.
It is a mentality that parents are not capable of properly supervising their children, so the government must step in and take control. Forget that the vast majority of revelers use fireworks with care, and that accidents are rare. New Jersey government, playing right into America's culture of fear, thinks its nanny-state intervention will eliminate the risk of getting hurt.
What's next? Banning skateboards? Or mandating that coffee be served at 75 degrees to prevent burns?
And how is it that Americans in so many other states use sparklers safely?
The irony of these Gestapo-like tactics is that it illustrates the beauty of America: No one has to live in New Jersey. If a state's power becomes too onerous, one can move without asking permission. And it's precisely why the "Red-Blue" divide in this country is wider than ever. Blue states continue to over-regulate and over-tax, while Red states offer a freer environment. Consequently, the states with booming populations, highest job creation, and most robust economies are Red.
The fact that we have such a choice is uniquely American.
So if you live in The People's Republic of New Jersey, have a great time ringing in the freedom of the Fourth by firing up your flashlights.
Until they get banned too.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.
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