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Cheers - AE

Monday, 19 December 2011

Free gifts - the next thing to be on the restricted activities list?

Some things don't mix well, we all know that. Street luging on public roads is one, and we saw yesterday how that makes it a restricted activity you need to get permission for. Another is alcohol and, well, if you took the opinion of every nanny and wowser out there alcohol and practically anything, including life and happiness, don't mix. Certainly at least one will tell you that alcohol and promotions by way of free gifts don't because not everyone is as bright as him, and a handful of people do very stupid things when drunk. So obviously a branding iron that's given away with bottles of Jack Daniels is a bad idea because a tiny number of complete idiots will use them to brand each other.

Yes, this is going to be just like the two guys taking it in turns to shoot each other in the arse with an air rifle to see what it's like, but with extra nannying.

And straight away I feel the need to point out that the men didn't actually suffer burns in the promotion, as the very first line of the article makes clear.
THREE WA men suffered horrific burns after branding themselves with novelty branding irons given away as part of a Jack Daniel's promotion.
See? Saying they suffered burns in the promotion makes it sound like that was either a risk or even the idea of the promotion, or at the least something went horribly wrong. Nope, nothing like that at all. It's just that if you make enough novelty branding irons eventually one will end up in the hands of an idiot.

Cue the wowsers.
Health advocates are now demanding legislation that stops "reckless" alcohol marketing.
Reckless? Seriously? The brand was intended for steaks, as hinted at by the fact it was part of a barbecue set Jack Daniel's were including with a bottle, and what's reckless about branding a chunk of long dead cow? Naff, maybe, but reckless? Hardly, since they must have turned out thousands and thousands of these things, all but three of which have not been involved in any incidents as far as anyone knows.
The men, aged in their 20s and 30s including one who branded his backside...
... were admitted to Royal Perth Hospital for surgery and emergency skin grafts. The last one was operated on earlier this month.
The others chose to plunge the hot metal rod with the words "Old No.7 Brand", in reference to the Tennessee bourbon, on the back of a hand and a leg.
Okay, sounds like serious injuries, but let's remember that this is part of a barbecue set, and unless you've invited Jeffrey Dahmer nobody, drunk or sober, is going to think it's supposed to be used on living people. But even so, just in case (or more likely as required by some nannying law) Jack Daniel's provided a label on the branding iron in order to state the completely bloody obvious.
... Jack Daniel's brand owner Brown-Forman Australia says it has done nothing wrong because the product comes with a warning [which reads:]

  • This branding iron can cause serious skin burns.
  • Do not touch metal parts with fingers, skin or any flammable material.
  • Branding iron will remain hot long after being heated. Remove this label before first use.
Surely that's enough to keep the nannies happy? Nah, 'course not. Because the nannies want everyone to be treated the same as the daftest person in the country.
[Royal Perth hospital] head of plastic surgery and burns surgeon Mark Duncan-Smith branded the gimmick "an irresponsible cocktail for disaster".
Disaster? What, like the Japanese tsunami or the Christchurch earthquake? Well, it's a stretch but I could accept it as disastrous if hospitals all over the country were getting flooded with victims of these would-be killer barbie brands and the ambulances and burns units were starting to crack under the pressure, but the reality is there've been one self inflicted burned hand, one self inflicted burned arm and one self inflicted burned arse. Disaster? Seriously? In fact even these three victims of their own machismo/masochism aren't complaining, presumably because being daft enough to stick pieces of hot metal on themselves on purpose doesn't mean they're too daft to realise it was their own fault. If so then this, in my opinion, makes them brighter than the one solitary person who did complain.
[Brown-Forman managing director Marshall Farrer] said the only injury complaints he had received nationally were from Dr Duncan-Smith in WA.
I wonder, would this possibly be Dr Mark Duncan-Smith of the Royal Perth Hospital plastic surgery and burns department? I don't think we need to ask.
"You can't stop everyone from doing something silly, but when you are actually providing a method for people to injure themselves, even though it is still their responsibility, it is providing fuel in one hand and a lighter in the other," [Dr Duncan-Smith] said.
No, they get the fuel and the lighter from Bunnings, or the supermarket or the local petrol station or any of dozens of places, and they can do plenty of damage just with those and without a novelty branding iron. But, as with the branding iron itself, almost nobody does. And it's not providing a method for people to injure themselves any more than selling barbecues is providing a method for people to cook each other.
"It is a devastating mix. The combination of alcohol and a branding iron is just crazy. It is a cocktail of diminished capacity and a mechanism to inflict serious damage. I personally think this is madness."
Interesting. I wonder if the doc would say it's more mad or less mad than taking a sample of three idiots - and a self selecting sample at that - and taking that to mean the whole country is just as dopey with a few glasses of JD inside them? Leaving aside the obvious point of Dr Duncan-Smith's hideously paternalistic view of his fellow man this argument makes as much sense as estimating that there are 615 billion cats in Australia based on the sample in this room. It's nonsense, and it's infuriating that Perth Now seem unable to call him on it.

Nor is Dr Duncan-Smith the only one whining, even if he is the only one who actually complained to the company itself.*
McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth director Mike Daube said there was a "glaring gap in curbs on alcohol promotion".
"These are entirely predictable outcomes from an outrageously irresponsible promotion," Prof Daube said.
Oh, really, Prof? Entirely predictable, are they? Well, I'm going to call that claim weapons grade bullshit, though I'd be delighted to eat my words and apologise if you can show us exactly where you predicted it. Because I've done a web search for your name in connection with Jack Daniel's, which I'd have thought would be sufficiently broad to pick any such prediction up if it made it into press or even if you'd put it on the MCAAY (pronounced "Mmkay?" in a South Parkian Mr Garrison voice, I guess) site, and would you like to guess what I found between the beginning of the promotion and the news of these three self inflicted burns cases from West Oz? Go on, have a guess.

Oh, alright, I'll tell you: not a fucking thing.

Entirely predictable, Prof Daube? My unburnt, non-supperating, pristine and entirely healthy arse.
"There are no controls whatever none on alcohol promotions of this kind." He said he would write to the federal and state governments calling for measures to halt irresponsible alcohol promotions.
Look, the range of humanity from stupid to sensible is going to be such a wide bell curve that simply whispering that alcohol exists is probably irresponsible for someone at one extreme end, but you'd have to go to insane lengths to come up with something that's irresponsible even for everyone in the middle, much less the Spock-like people at the far end. A free pallet of booze for anyone who drives themselves to the bottle shop having snorted more coke than Tony Montana might qualify, but some piece of tat for branding your steaks certainly doesn't.

And so we turn, but only because we're forced, to the politicians. You just know it's not going to turn out well, don't you?
State Mental Health Minister Helen Morton, who is also responsible for drug and alcohol issues, supported regulation changes on alcohol promotions, but said it was a federal matter.
Well, of course she does. She's a politician seeing an excuse to get a bit of media, possibly encouraged by some of the people in her ministry who've just seen a half-arsed justification for extending the remit of their department or by people who just want to extend the role of the state in our lives in general. It's as Reagan once said, the instinct of governments is that if it moves they should tax it, if it keeps moving they should regulate it and if it stops moving they should subsidise it - they never look and think that maybe they should just leave it the hell alone. And I don't take any comfort from a state politician bouncing it up to the federal government because the federal government is likely to take one look and either tax it, regulate it or subsidise it, possible even all three at the same time, regardless of whether it moves or not.

But what I really find bizarre is that the WA Health Minister understands something about people and governments and legislation. Something most people understand, even the ones sticking branding irons in the barbecue for a bit before trying to make their own gluteus the property of an American drinks company.
"However, at the end of the day, how can we legislate against that level of stupidity," she said.
You can't, Helen. It's an exercise in futility, and that being so what the hell's the point of regulation changes on alcohol promotions? Accept that a tiny number of people will do something daft with practically anything we can imagine, and that an even smaller number of people will remove themselves from the gene pool in the process.

But never forget that the vast majority of people won't.

* I wonder if he writes to car manufacturers every time he has to hide the scars on someone who was injured because they or someone else was screwing around while driving? Or is it just alcohol that lights up his brain's complaint node?
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