Archive for November, 2011

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Euroscepticism is ballooning in the uncritical press

November 3, 2011

“Children to be banned from blowing up balloons!” screamed the Telegraph, and a hundred other mainly right-wing “journalists” parroted the story.  If the people working for these news sources were genuinely sceptical, rather than just being Eurosceptical they might have checked their facts. The new EU Toy Safety Directive says that, in line with already existing toy safety rules, balloons made of latex must carry a warning aiming to prevent children from choking or suffocating by inhaling or swallowing uninflated or broken balloons. Stronger balloons do not need to carry the warning. The label must recommend adult supervision, but it certainly does not forbid children under 8 from inflating balloons.

Put in words of one syllable that even the most ignorant, dribbling, Daily Mail-reading, knuckle-dragger can understand: This is not a ban.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but as a parent, I am acutely aware of the location of every balloon and bit of balloon in the vincinity of my children. They always have been a choking hazard, and Brussels various Toy Safety Directives are simply a move to label them as such.

Balloons are the leading cause of suffocation death, according to CPSC injury data. Since 1973, more than 110 children have died as a result of suffocation involving uninflated balloons or pieces of balloons.

It would appear that the British press has got it wrong again. One might almost be forgiven for thinking that they deliberately fail to read the content of the material they are criticising. Hell, its almost like they’re pushing an agenda!

Unsurprisingly, the liberal-leftie pinko rag the Guardian didn’t cover this story. Maybe because they realised that it was bullshit. If the good old Grauniad didn’t bother with this patently made-up story, where were the corrections to the story published? High-profile daily broadsheets like the Telegraph, who had got the story wrong in the first place? Advertising-dependent American media-conglomerates?

No. Of course not.

The Times of Malta reported the correction, as did the Courthouse News Service and IEWY News. Ever heard of those news sources? Ever read them? Didn’t think so.

Do I think such labelling is necessary? Not really. But then I am an intelligent (and slightly anxious) parent who has actually thought about this issue. Other parents have perhaps not considered the possibility that their child could die after inhaling a balloon that the Eurosceptic press consider “harmless”. This directive is for them. If they ignore it, that’s their (or rather, their kids’) problem. What outrages me about this story is the fact that perfectly sound policy is being unfairly rejected based on what agenda the Torygraph and the Daily Fail are pushing this week.

Perhaps more irritating is the criticism from the American press of an entirely European directive. Criticise your own bloody laws, you hypocrites, and let us sort out ours. Or did you not realise that you have exactly the same kind of regulation over there in the States? Strangely, several weeks after the correction was issued by Brussels, and the rest of the worlds’ news sources had forgotton about the whole thing, American alternative medicine promoting, anti-science website the Huffington Post was still whinging about Brussels being “spoilsports.” Perhaps they have a homeopathic attitude to journalism – the more dilute the facts, the stonger the story…

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