Montréal, 28 avril 2001  /  No 82
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Ralph Maddocks is a retired textile executive and former management consultant. He lives in Cowansville.
by Ralph Maddocks
          Browsing through the London Times just before Easter I was struck by a headline: « Toddlers will be frisked at egg race. » 
          Greatly intrigued I read on, only to discover that young children attending the White House Easter Egg Roll, an event in existence since the1870s, would be frisked for stun guns and presumably those other weapons that most three to six year old children carry around with them. 
Toddler delinquency 
          Stun guns, which can reach 500,000 volts, can cost $59.95; for the 100,000-volt model but you need only pay $23.95 for a less powerful one, all in US prices of course. The image of a three-year-old toddler, slowly dragging a stun gun along the ground like a wheeled toy train as he, or she, stumbled up the steps of the White House is an image that I find hard to shake. 
          Specified in addition, on the reverse side of the invitations, were items like guns and ammunition, knives with blades over 3 inches in length. In fact all the weapons that, unknown to me and most likely to the reader also, are presumably being taken to kindergarten every day by US children. Banned too was mace, not the spice made from the dried shell of nutmeg but presumably the one or both of the other two eponymous items.  
          The article went on to specify that balloons were banned. It had never occurred to me either that someone might try to assassinate a US President with a balloon. Could they have meant lead balloons I wondered? There was no mention in the article about where the eggs to be used for the rolling would come from. One must assume that the hens, which laid the eggs, were first cleared for security and then that the eggs were specially inspected to make sure that they contained no explosive materials, and were un-spiced with mace! 
          These apparently lunatic security measures were alleged to be the result of the recent spate of shootings in US schools, even though teenagers perpetrated all of them as far as can be understood from reading the US press. 
          Now that Easter is over, I have looked very carefully but cannot find out how many stun or other kinds of guns and cans of mace had been confiscated by the paranoid officials at the White House. There has been no mention either of any three or four year old would-be terrorists being arrested, for trial as adults to be condemned to death or life imprisonment for threatening the president. Nor could I, in spite of employing the best available Internet Search Engines, find out how many attempts were made to assassinate the president with balloons, lead or otherwise.  
     « Who knows which of those minuscule Asian /American toddlers might be an assassin in the employ of the Chinese government? » 
          The article, presumably to make its mainly British readers feel superior, provided some gratuitous information about gun deaths in America. It claimed that « ... there are 30,000 gun related deaths each year in the USA and that gun control advocates had pointed out that the rate of gun deaths among children, fourteen and under, is 12 times more than in 25 other industrialized countries combined. » 
          Like all of the propaganda put out by the politically-correct adherents of the anti-gun lobby, the numbers quoted above are intended to imply 30,000 gun-related deaths by homicide. In reality, the largest component of those 30,000 deaths consists of people who chose a gun to end their lives. If guns were banned, as many wish, then those who wish to end their lives would simply find other means, ropes, poison, over-medication etc. The other statistic is somewhat more dubious because the « industrialized countries » chosen included Hong Kong and excluded some larger countries.  
          The phrase « the rate of gun deaths among children, fourteen and under, is 12 times more than in 25 other industrialized countries combined. » is also misleading because it ought to read « averaged together » rather than « combined ». The real statistics for the USA in 1995, according to the National Safety Council, are 30 fatal gun deaths for children aged 0 to 4 and under 40 gun deaths for children between 5 and 9. 
          In that same year, the total number of fatal accidents involving children between 0 and 14 was 6,500 and the fatal accidents involving firearms was just 3% of the total. To put this in perspective; of the 6,500 accidental deaths reported, 500 were in swimming pools, a point that the writer of the Times article failed to make. Better not confuse the readers with real facts after all. 
          Perhaps all of these intensive security measures at the White House were the result of fears induced by the standoff over the US spy plane and crew detained by China, at that time, on Hainan Island? Who knows which of those minuscule Asian /American toddlers might be an assassin in the employ of the Chinese government? In today's politically correct climate there would be no way that invitees could all be selected from a less problematic skin colour group.  
          As they say, « Only in America! » 
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