Thursday, 2 May 2013

Free speech and all that

You may recall that just after the Boston bombers hit the headlines, a fertiliser plant exploded in rural Texas. The second incident killed more people than the first. It emerged that the last safety inspection at the plant had taken place in 2006. Now some Texans are getting their knickers in a serious twist over a cartoon in a California paper, the wonderfully-named Sacramento Bee. Here is the cartoon:

Background: Texas governor Rick Perry is trying to lure firms to Texas from California by claiming that low taxes and weak health and safety regulation makes for a more competitive business environment. The cartoonist is making the valid point that lack of plant inspections makes them, on balance, more likely to blow up, and that is not good for jobs in the immediate vicinity. Needless to say, this is unacceptable to right wing advocates of free speech for themselves.

The Republican governor of Texas, Rick Perry, has demanded an apology and some other pol has called for the cartoonist, Jack Ohman, to be fired. I daresay it's a convenient distraction from the fact that lax regulation has killed a bunch of voters. Perry must be rather relieved he can talk about hurt feelings instead of, y'know, the lack of safety inspections in a factory packed with tons of highly explosive chemicals.

Sure, it's in your face. But what is more tasteless - relaxing regulations so that people are more likely to be killed in their workplace, or pointing out that fact in a cartoon? Factories don't explode if proper precautions are taken. And the only way to ensure that is to have a proper safety regime. Rick Perry - who is a prize oaf, Google him to find out why - deliberately puts Texans in danger then complains when someone points it out. Well, boo friggin' hoo.

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