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I had a simple little experience last night that led me to an epiphany about where our country is right now.  Follow me below the orange star burst for more ...

We live in a new subdivision, and the road behind our house has yet to be paved.  Our backyard backs right up to the road.

It was, of course, the Fourth of July.  And we know what the Fourth means:  Fireworks.  Every residential neighborhood I have ever lived in, despite the fact that the cities always prohibit fireworks, has turned into a mini fireworks show each year.  Is that terrible?  Of course not.  Have even I shot off my fair sure.  You bet (especially when I was a kid).  But that typically meant a Black Cat here and a sparkler there.

Last night at about 11:30 p.m., two cars pulled up in the yet-to-be-built street.  Out come two families, and they begin shooting off high-powered starburst rockets from a base not 50 feet from our fence.  Not one or two, but dozens and dozens.  Even that isn’t so bad I suppose.  Except that we have two dogs, and the hour-long successive reports had them horrified.  Oh well, it’s one night a year, right?

My husband and I went out in the backyard, and began to find dozens of burned plastic casings for the star burst rockets.  I then trained a flashlight on the roof, and there were dozens more.  None of them were blazing on fire, so I guess “no harm, no foul,” correct?

My husband asked them to please move on, and one of the dads said, “we’ll be done in a minute.”  I got a little pissy and told them our yard is littered with their debris.  His wife’s response, “Oh Lord…do you want us to come clean it up (sarcastic)?”  My response: “No, I didn’t want it here to begin with.”  In any case, they ended up leaving after awhile.

What was the epiphany?  Yesterday was meant to celebrate our “Freedom.”  And it seems like all we hear these days are people speaking of this or that freedom.  The right to carry assault weapons around and scare people.  The right to refuse to take care of their employees’ health.  The right to worship, so long as it is Christian worship.  The right to shoot fireworks in a residential neighborhood in which the practice is explicitly  banned by law.  Ignoring reasonable requests to do or not do those things.

Merriam Webster’s synonyms for “freedom” including:  autonomy, independence,  liberty, self-determination, self-governance, self-government, sovereignty.  The fireworks shooters clearly believe in those synonyms.   That they are “free,” notwithstanding laws and neighbor requests, to do exactly as they wish without regard to the effects on others.

I would submit that Merriam Webster left out the most important synonym for “freedom:”  Respect.   Respect for others, without having to be guided by a law or told so, is what is missing from this country’s “freedom.”   So many believe that they have the “right,” granted by some ignorant reading of the Constitution or “what God gave them” or whatever, to do as they wish without considering others.  Replace the fireworks story with just about any in the world of current politics, and that’s what it boils down to:  a lack of respect.  The right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” in my opinion, has within it the following:  “the right to respecting each other as we pursue our lives, liberties, and happiness.”

Respect and common courtesy.  Let’s try it more often as we practice our freedom.

Originally posted to noteaforme on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 07:07 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I've long thought the Bill of Rights (8+ / 0-)

    should have been the Bill of Rights and Responsibilities!

    The sound of one hand clapping is ‘cl’ – unless of course you're left-handed in which case it’s ‘ap’. (◕‿◕)

    by Mopshell on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 07:12:55 AM PDT

  •  selfish...thoughtless...a-holes... (21+ / 0-)

    that is what we are becoming.

    I signed up for a site called 'next-door''s like facebook for the neighborhood.

    last year somebody posted a warning from the local police dept....the year before people were shooting off professional grade fireworks at the school and almost burned it they would be increasing patrols.

    many people joined the thread pleading for people to consider pets, little kids and's like a war zone in our neighborhood the week before and after the 4th.

    sure enough...the teabagger a-holes start with the 'freedom' stuff...then on to ObamaCare...the couldn't seem to grasp the fact that those fireworks are illegal for a reason...too selfish to consider anybody else but their 'god given' right to blow stuff up and risk others' safety.

    We are not broke, we are being robbed. ~Shop Kos Katalogue~

    by Glen The Plumber on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 07:33:58 AM PDT

  •  A-men. I fucking hate backyard fireworks (13+ / 0-)

    and I'm not all that jazzed about the professional displays, either.

    Kudos to you and your husband for confronting the assholes. That took guts. And I love your response - "No, we didn't want it here in the first place."


    My crafts are 100% Hobby-Lobby Free! Visit my Handmade Gallery on Zibbet

    by jan4insight on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 08:41:43 AM PDT

  •  Similar here, and ongoing. (12+ / 0-)

    I live in a rural Wisconsin neighborhood (though that's not clear to many) in which many properties are owned by "weekenders" and "out-of-town/staters", so we're just one big amusement park to them.

    You might be surprised that the County (Townships fall into their juristiction) Sherriff Deputies hate the illegal (and it IS illegal) amateur fireworks use too, and welcome the calls so they can shut it down. They're actually apologetic that there's a backlog on nights like last night.

    Since there's a new out-of-state owner in the neighborhood, they got introduced to the drill last night - have your illegal fun, and get a deputy banging on your door at about 3 a.m. with a warning that next time the fines and court appearances will begin.

    I hate being the local vigilante, but I'll be damned if my neighborhood will be turned into an amusement park. So sorry you invested so badly in property that didn't meet your expectations.....NOT!

    "All war is stupid" - JFK

    by jorogo on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 09:58:01 AM PDT

  •  I used to love backyard fireworks-25 years ago (6+ / 0-)

    then came the day when we set the field on fire and some were too drunk to realize we weren't joking. Later a bottle rocket went berserk and buzzed me & the baby instead of going out off the patio. That was the last time. Now I go to the public ones to discourage the down home ones.

    We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

    by nuclear winter solstice on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 10:06:48 AM PDT

  •  You should have asked the folks for their address, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northerntier, ColoTim, noteaforme

    so you'd no where to go to shoot off fireworks.
      This year it wasn't so bad. I don't know whether it was rain or the publicity given to the veterans whose PTSD is triggered by fireworks.

  •  I go to a public display. (3+ / 0-)

    That satisfies my need for it. I don't need to do it myself.

    Help me get my utilities on! I can't eat this elephant by myself.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 10:13:37 AM PDT

  •  I like looser fireworks laws.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bnasley, OooSillyMe

    ....but showing up in someone else's neighborhood to shoot them off is pretty damn rude.

  •  Spray them with a garden hose or photograph (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    swampyankee, jorogo, jan4insight

    them, their car and tell them you'll be forwarding it on to the police when they come to issue you a summons for having been setting off fireworks.

    My problem is, my (and your) house is sitting in a known location in case any retaliation occurs.  The photograph is a good tool, perhaps, to show you know who they are as well.

    Of course, the NRA's solution is to open fire with a gun, since they're assaulting your property with things that put you and your family and belongings at risk.  Stand your ground!

    •  Sad state of affairs... (8+ / 0-)

      We actually sat and let it go on for longer than we should have, out of fear of retaliation.

      The current state of mind of so many people, armed to the teeth and waiting for the revolution, scares me.

      I shouldn't have to think twice about politely asking someone to respect my family and my home, and my rights. So many people are so convinced their way of life, their freedom, is under attack, I was concerned about the reaction. Sad.

      •  We stay home every year for 4th of July (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        We have a dog who's not happy with loud noises, but a major reason is also that we have a nice viewing location for fireworks.  It attracts lots of people to park on our street to watch and there have been years when people have been setting off fireworks in the street and sidewalk areas as well as the open field on the other side of the street.  We just get concerned that if we left, we'd come home to find a smoldering ruin.

        Yesterday we had about 15 people come over for a party.  Everyone enjoyed the fireworks, the people on the street behaved themselves, and my wife had me turn on the sprinklers to re-water down our yard when a group of youths started shooting fireworks in that field at 2:30 AM.  Fortunately, things worked out well.  This time.

  •  Last night my entire neighborhood (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlueOak, fallina7, jan4insight

    sounded like a frik'n war zone.  Rockets, M-80's, crackers, etc. were going until the wee hours of the morning.  I wake up today and find the spent casing of a dozen rockets in my DRY & BROWN backyard and a few on my very old roof.  

    My wonderful partner commented about 10 pm that "I wish they would ban all fireworks sold to the general public in Washington" and "Only those with a licenses/permit can get them".

    If I were a vet with PTSD, I would have been off in the war (which ever one you went thru) again.

    "Death is the winner in any war." - Nightwish/Imaginareum/Song of myself.

    by doingbusinessas on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 12:36:32 PM PDT

    •  Dateline: Northeast San Jose, CA. ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      unfangus, cassandraX

      Re-enactment of  the f-----g TET Offensive, otherwise known as "Da Fortha Jue - lie Boom Time".

      This place has not had a single drop of meaningful rain since early January, and yet there were at least 100 local neighborhood shots of 1,500' airburst star rockets going off well until 3:00 this morning from so-called "illegal" fireworks - as well as M80s, and other pyrotechnics of all stripes that required ear plugs and putting the dog in his airline cage to keep him from going completely ballistic and crapping all over the place from fear and panic.

      Half of this neighborhood has bone-dry shake shingles on their roofs. I wonder what the price of "freedom" is when someone's home burns down from spent fireworks residue- especially when the City Council that formerly passed a ban on domestic fireworks exhibition caved in to the vendors in Alameda County in order to to increase sales tax revenue without allocating that increase to fire department funding.

      Deploy a couple more cops around the local parks? Wow - how proactive. Send out the local copper chopper to patrol the skies? For what?- looking for some kid with a laser?  Especially when police are leaving the S.J police department in droves because of Chuckie Reed and his union-busting stooges on the Council? Big friggin' deal: fireworks in this neighborhood were being set off as if there were no laws, no cops and no respect for anybody trying to get some sleep after 10:00 at night.

      If there isn't any teeth in the law, nobody gets bitten when they break it. And someone is eventually going to die.... because FREEDOM!

  •  kinda' late now, but in the future (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    get the license plate & call the police.  Film/video it if possible.  

    if their debris was littering your yard that's definitely falls under "nuisance".

    If their burnt/burning debris was landing on your roof that's flirting with endangering property and vandalism (local statutes vary in wording).  

    Also, if those size fireworks were being shot off near a dry field/meadow/scrub brush or dry tinder/woods, call the fire department.  Chiefs do NOT look kindly on reckless flame/burns/burning.  Specifically show whoever answers the call the debris on your roof.  Actually, if the debris is still up there, its not to late to file a report.

    Alsoalso, i don't know where you live, but if there's burn restrictions/ban (like where i live in OR), people shooting off fireworks that size can get themselves a nice size fine if they get caught.

    Besides being seriously dickish behavior, what those people were doing was wrong.  No one in that situation should feel bad for getting the police or fire dept. involved.

    again: Film/video it if possible.  Cops love unambiguous evidence.

    elipsii: helping the masses express aposiopesis for...

    by bnasley on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 12:43:26 PM PDT

    •  If the local politicians don't care (0+ / 0-)

      and if they're hungry for revenue at any cost, all of what you suggest does not matter one bit.

      In better times when responsible adult leadership  was governed by principles of integrity and concern for community, they would have had an impact. Not anymore.

  •  Professionals in the fireworks industry get killed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jorogo, jan4insight

    putting on shows.  There is clearly a reason that type of firework is no supposed to be in the hands of consumers.

  •  Two words: "Boston Marathon " (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    swampyankee, jan4insight

    And the NRA still objects to putting taggants in black powder and other explosives.

    In my part of the world the police have cracked down on private displays on public streets.  (What happens on private docks and large backyards is another issue.)

    For ten years there was a "Collective"  of fireworks lovers on my block who mounted a display starting with a 50ft roll of oneandahalfinchers and carrying one with mortars, rockets and even ground displays.

    Now, on the plus side ... these guys and their families DID clean up after themselves   And they brought an impressive array of fog and foam fire extinguishers.  And they were pretty sure they could have a hook and ladder at the site within  a minute or three or so ...


    The Collective was an informal alliance of Police and Fire Fighters who happened to live in the area -- as I found out the first time I called the precinct to complain.  (A good portion of that display was just a tithing of fireworks confiscated from 'roach-coach' wagons.;

    But then, when they actually DID set my neighbor's roof on fire ... they proved that "Yes, the hook and ladder did arrive within a couple of minutes so no real harm was done"    But the "Bosses" let it be known that no such thing would be tolerated in the future.

  •  Oh, boy. Just got the report from the Deputy (5+ / 0-)

    who followed up on my complaint about last night's illegal fireworks marathon. (They were too busy to respond before things settled down just before midnight)

    Today, the man was passing rockets to his intellectually-challenged son just as the deputy arrived.....exposing his challenged son to danger and helping him to commit an illegal act! He admitted that the 2 loud explosions about ten minutes apart which I heard last night toward the end of their "festivities" were mortar displays which detonated on the ground. The deputy said the craters in the ground were still there, as well as a boxful more they intended to use tonight. Undoubtedly, the poor kid now has to face life not only intellectually-challenged, but with hearing damage and an idiot father to boot.

    What else can you say but, "place in hell?"

    "All war is stupid" - JFK

    by jorogo on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 02:57:10 PM PDT

  •  We used to learn "Civics" in school (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    One day my teacher told an anecdotal story. An immigrant from a totalitarian country had just landed in the US. He was so elated at finally being free that he broke into a little dance...

    "I'm free!" he exclaimed as he stretched his arms, and bumped a bystander on the nose.

    "Just remember, my friend," the man advised, "Your freedom ends where my nose begins."

    The long memory is the most radical idea in this country." Utah Phillips 1935 - 2008

    by Grey Fedora on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 06:47:44 PM PDT

  •  Funny that the day to celebrate one's freedom is (4+ / 0-)

    the very day one has to hide out, block their ears, soothe their pets in one's own house in one's own neighborhood.

    Fireworks ordinances are not enforced. Freedom for some feels like bullying to others.

  •  It is hazardous to many veteran's health (0+ / 0-)

    I have never met a combat vet who enjoys bombs bursting in air.  Maybe there are a few but for the most causes traumatic problems for most.
    Thanks for a great diary.

    Just how much Koch do Right Wingers want in their life? . United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 06:08:00 AM PDT

  •  There should be safe, designated places for peo... (0+ / 0-)

    There should be safe, designated places for people to use fireworks.

  •  Portland, ME: July 4, 1866 (0+ / 0-)

    Massive fire.


    by commonmass on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 08:34:10 AM PDT

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