Thursday, February 26, 2009

Firemen in Congress

The unabated progress of the overreaction-to-headlines CPSIA should sicken the heart of any lover of older children's books.
It’s hard to believe, but true: under a law Congress passed last year aimed at regulating hazards in children’s products, the federal government has now advised that children’s books published before 1985 should not be considered safe and may in many cases be unlawful to sell or distribute. Merchants, thrift stores, and booksellers may be at risk if they sell older volumes, or even give them away, without first subjecting them to testing—at prohibitive expense. Many used-book sellers, consignment stores, Goodwill outlets, and the like have accordingly begun to refuse new donations of pre-1985 volumes, yank existing ones off their shelves, and in some cases discard them en masse.
Surely you wouldn't endanger your children's minds, I mean bodies, by permitting a book published before 1985 to fall into their little hands. What was the year before that, when books suddenly qualified as hazardous to the young? It's almost as if Congress were aiming for symbolic significance.

Since the law became effective the very next day, there was no time to waste in putting this advice into practice. A commenter at Etsy, the large handicrafts and vintage-goods site, observed how things worked at one store:

I just came back from my local thrift store with tears in my eyes! I watched as boxes and boxes of children’s books were thrown into the garbage! Today was the deadline and I just can’t believe it! Every book they had on the shelves prior to 1985 was destroyed! I managed to grab a 1967 edition of “The Outsiders” from the top of the box, but so many!
I'm so glad we've already stocked our shelves with high-quality pre-1985 literature--much of it nearly certain never to be reprinted, as it will never again be popular enough in American culture to make reprinting cost-effective. The local public library is having a big sell-off this Saturday. We'll see if pre-1985 children's books are available, or if the book ban has already been implemented here.


Anonymous Yahmdallah said...

The mind boggles.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Jerry said...

The reason for the 1985 cut-off is that a law went into effect that year prohibiting the use of lead-based pigments in the books.

This type of idiocy is one of many example of why the government shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the health care system.

6:48 AM  

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