Late Friday night, the U.S. House of Representatives brought down a bill to ban Arson® brand lighter fluid in a straight party-line vote.
The bill, sponsored by Congressman Smokey the Bear (I-OR), was fiercely opposed by the N-Bar-A (National Barbecue Association), which spent more than $5.09 million across nine states and nearly 100 congressional districts. The N-Bar-A aired TV and radio ads to hold wavering representatives’ feet to the fire until they committed to voting against the bill.
As the bill was debated in the House over the last few weeks, it quickly became a hot button issue, igniting passions almost as well as its subject ignites wood, clothes, plastic, plexiglass, and most types of stone. Originally formulated for use in flamethrowers in World War II, the controversial lighter fluid burns at 5009 degrees Fahrenheit, leaves no chemical trace, melts all recognizable fingerprints within a one-mile radius, and cannot be extinguished with water or traditional fire extinguishers.
Proponents of a ban argue that these qualities were originally intended to inflict death and destruction in war, and has no civilian use besides the commission of arson.
“They aren’t even pretending it’s safe—it’s literally named after a felony!” said “Antwan Morello,” a pro-ban congressman who would only speak under a pseudonym, for fear of being targeted by the N-Bar-A.
Arson® proponents, on the other hand, have made salient arguments that have gained traction with congressional Republicans, to whom they coincidentally donate vast sums of money every election cycle. (What a small world!)
Heath Myser, President of the N-Bar-A, released a statement in advance of Friday’s vote, making a final plea for Congress to reject the bill.
“From the earliest days of our great Republic, people have lit and cooked over open fires. And despite the increased destructive capability of modern, accelerant-fueled fires, coupled with the declining importance of the open flame in sustaining the average American’s life, we are confident that the Founders always intended for average, untrained civilians to light the largest fires as technologically possible whenever they damn well please.”
When asked to respond to the argument that all legitimate uses of Arson® could be carried out by a less dangerous lighter fluid and that advocating such unfettered access to Arson® only enabled criminals to kill and destroy without adding a commensurate benefit to the law-abiding Arson® owner or the community at-large, Myser replied, “Only the mentally disturbed would even think of using Arson® to commit arson, and if the criminally insane want to burn your house down, there’s nothing the collective effort of an entire society could possibly do to stop them. You’ll never prevent all arsons, and you know what they say: ‘Go big or go home.’”
“Until you can prevent all arsons,” he continued, “it’s not worth infringing on even one innocent barbecuer’s right to enjoy an afternoon at the grill. Besides, if someone really did want to burn down your house with Arson, wouldn’t you feel safer if everyone around you also had Arson to go burn down their house?”
Curious to meet an average Arsonist (short for Arson® Enthusiast, as the company’s official Facebook page dubs its customers), this reporter wandered into the nearest forest and played a literal game of “Hot or Cold,” which quickly led to the distinctive eyebrow-singing heat typical of an Arson®-lit fire. Beside the fire sat “Sparky McKindling,” an avid Arsonist who would only speak under a false name because of irrational fears that the National Security Agency cares enough about his relatively average life to keep him under constant surveillance. Queried about why he liked Arson®, he replied, “You know what they say! ‘Some men just like to watch the world burn.’ I forget who said that. Probably Superman. Or maybe his alter ego, Ronald Reagan.”
But when asked whether he would consider using a regular lighter fluid, or even be subjected to extra safety measures, like a background check, if it could possibly reduce the number of people killed by Arsonists, he grew defensive.
“People should be responsible for their own safety and stop trying to put it off onto freedom-loving Americans. For me, the best feeling in life is being next to a big ol’ fire; big, warm hot dog in my hand, just sitting out there until both of them are finished. If other people like the feeling of not being the victims of Arson, more power to ‘em, but that’s their responsibility. As for me, it’s like ol’ Reagan said: ‘Give me liberty or give me death!’”
As long as Arson is legal, he just might get both.