Thursday, November 19, 2009

Are You Really A CPSIA Victim?

The following is a repost of a blog entry by Whimsical Walney, a fellow CPSIA activist:

Main Entry: vic·tim Pronunciation: \ˈvik-təm\Function: noun Etymology: Latin victima; perhaps akin to Old High German wīh holy Date: 15th century
1 : a living being sacrificed to a deity or in the performance of a religious rite

2 : one that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent s of the social system>: as a (1) : one that is injured, destroyed, or sacrificed under any of various conditions cancer> auto crash> (2) : one that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment b : one that is tricked or duped >

Source: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

I wanted to wait a little bit before posting my reaction to the NY Times piece about the CPSIA. The CPSIA Twitter stream showcased a positive reaction from those involved and Walter Olson did a usual spot-on post how it’s about time the NY Times weighed in.

So the fact that I seemed to be the only one (at least that I could tell) for whom the article left a bad taste made me take pause. Add to the mix that the Handmade Toy Alliance has been working so hard to bring this issue to the fore; to bring the facts about how CPSIA hurts small business to consumers nationwide and I felt it would diminish their efforts. I was proud to see people I have worked with over the course of this year quoted in this well respected publication.

Enough time has passed now, though, that I feel I can weigh in. Remember that quote from Jerry Maguire, “You had me at hello”? Well, I am finding that Ms. Wayne lost me at, “portray themselves as victims of bureaucrats and consumer advocates.”

The entire paragraph reads:

These homegrown toymakers are banding together to portray themselves as victims of bureaucrats and consumer advocates, and have started letter-writing campaigns to Congress.

There is no question that many businesses are victims of this law. By saying that people are banding together to “portray” themselves as victims is really just saying to me that the author doesn’t actually believe that those businesses, that WE, are really victims. This is not a made-for-television mini-series or big box office comedy where everything is made right in the end once the nasty politician sees the err of his ways and finds true love in the very small business owner he was once trying to squash.

I recognize that journalists often have to leave a certain level of distance from their subjects, but the use of that word made me think she didn’t believe at all in what so many hoped was the point of her piece: CPSIA unnecessarily hurts small business.

So in my usual form I wanted to see if I was being oversensitive and decided to determine if, by definition, I am a victim. I therefore went straight to the source: the dictionary. And the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary verified that I was not overreacting. Not only that but it reminded me what we have all known all along. Not one single business is trying to play the role of a victim because they are, in fact, victims of this terrible law.

Shall we explain to Ms Wayne that this is more Erin Brokovich than You’ve Got Mail? Nah, maybe we should just keep reminding Congress instead.

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