Within nanoseconds of the horrific bombing of the Boston Marathon, cable news went into overdrive to relay the events to the public. After four hours of running the same video loop of the explosions, (from every angle and in slow motion) pundits turned to speculating who or what could be responsible for such a vicious act. Opinions ranged from the Tea Party to Al Qaida to the CIA to Some Guy Who Worked In The Building Across The Street And Wanted To Get Some Time Off. As the television audience began to fall asleep, Chris Matthews of MSDNC put forth a new line of reasoning: Does the public really have any reason to possess a pressure cooker other than to build bombs, given that microwave technology can fry a chicken just as fast? (And asked in Matthew’s typical style of answering his own question the way he thinks it should be addressed.)
Twitters across the country went viral, and by nightfall Senator Dianne Feinstein proposed new legislation limiting the sale of home pressure cookers, declaring, “the time is past when we can overlook the danger presented by these instruments of death and destruction. Is it just a coincidence that you can buy these things at a store called Target?” The bill was was immediately co-sponsored by Senators Schumer, Gillibrand, and Boxer, while Collins of Maine said she would consider it until the last moment and then backtrack.
The right wing press didn’t waste any time coming out in opposition. Sean Hannity put on his best hurt puppy dog face and went into a long spiel about how he remembered his grandmother canning apples that would later be used in American Apple Pies. Rush Limbaugh snarled that it was another attack on business and jobs, even though most of the pots are made in China these days. Senate Minority leader McConnell vowed to filibuster the bill.
A plethora of advocacy groups on both sides weighed in. A 2.3 million dollar study that concluded most pressure cooker accidents happen in the kitchen was hauled out by feminists to reinforce the pro-cooker control argument. “Women have been chained to these devices for hundreds of years. Why should we be put in harm’s way when we can buy the same thing at the grocery store?” queried Mona Lotta, spokesperson for WACC (Women Against Cooking Coalition). The pressure cooker manufacturer lobby immediately introduced a three minute ad on You Tube describing the health benefits of responsible pressure cooking, as presented by tearful children. It was followed by another video from EIR (Eat It Raw) that advocated “beating your pressure cookers into plowshares” and calculated the energy savings that could be achieved by dismantling the traditional kitchen stove.
By the third day, Senator Feinstein had amended her bill to cover only background checks for cooker purchases. “You shouldn’t just be able to pick up one of these at a yard sale,” she mused. Even though polls showed that Americans supported limiting access to pressure cookers by a ten point margin, Democrats in rural jurisdictions were being pressured by pro-canning groups who vowed to mount primary challenges to anyone who would restrict their cooking rights. By the fourth day, the bill was dumped into the “unfinished business” file, along with immigration reform and guns.