Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Safety Nannies Strike Again

I joined the Tooele Freecycle group because I like free stuff, and I have some stuff that really wouldn't be worth selling on eBay because it's either too big to make shipping worthwhile or too old to be likely to sell. So the first thing I listed was my old baby car seat. We were using this car seat until a few weeks ago when someone gave us a different one. It was still working, but there was a tiny plastic piece that broke off inside one of the yellow buttons that release the seat from the base, so every time Vince would take the car seat out of the van to drive the carpool, he'd turn it upside down and the yellow button would fall out. He could never be bothered to not turn the seat upside down or pick up the button, so it was causing me a lot of grief and when someone offered us a free car seat, we took it.

So I list the car seat, and before I got even one email from someone who wanted it, I got three emails from people who didn't want it. These well-intentioned people were all telling me that a used car seat is unsafe, that various groups don't want used car seats, that someone they know had a used car seat that was not as old as mine and they took it to some car seat clinic and it was rejected, etc. etc. If they'd bothered to do a Google search, they would have learned that car seats like mine are safe enough for a bit more use, but evidently the amount of labor that would take exceeded their capacities (although the amount of labor it took to shoot me off an email was evidently NOT beyond their capacities). I have to wonder if, when people list used clothes on Freecycle, these same people email the lister to tell them that there are organizations that don't take used clothes or that sometimes used clothes can have spider eggs or mouse droppings in them. Or if someone tried to give away a working fridge, would these same people email the giver to tell them that landfills won't take fridges unless the freon is drained and that kids can die from being stuck inside a fridge?

What kind of world do we live in where people are so convinced that anything that lacks the latest safety features is a total death trap, that they would see it as a public service to warn people about it? Why the hell is it that you can't even give away a used safety device to somebody who can't afford a brand new one without catching flak from the Safety Nannies? Why can't something that isn't the most totally guaranteed safe thing in the universe be safe enough? Why does everyone rubberstamp restrictions on freedom so long as they're labeled "For The Children"?