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The Lobby is Strong with this One

Imagine a botanicals company inventing a variety of eggplants whose seeds which, when roasted and eaten, are not only tasty, but could also produce all of the desirable psychological and physiological effects experienced by smoking its nightshade sibling, tobacco. Imagine also that after years of FDA testing, it’s found to have none of tobacco’s undesirable effects – in fact, it’s found to have no deleterious effects at all.

But just as the seeds are brought to market, the FDA (in association with Homeland Security) puts an unusual condition on their continued sale: Any grower or merchant distributing or selling the seeds will face fines of up to $300,000 in the event that an unreported sale is made to a known or suspected terrorist, or to anyone linked with a known or suspected terrorist organization. The rationalization being that a high percentage of terrorists smoke, that authorities use cigarette sales to track terrorists, and that the unregulated or unreported sale of the seeds would disrupt that traceability.

Merchants, once excited about the prospect of selling the healthful alternative to tobacco products, begin to pull the seeds from their shelves for fear of exposure to penalties. After all, with the way terrorist is defined, how could they possibly know who is, or might someday be suspected as, or associated with one?

A few of the large national market chains persist in selling the product, but after a few suits monopolize the airtime on Fox for 96 straight hours, these markets, too, announce that they will be discontinuing sales. Soon, the few remaining, once undaunted, independent merchants pull the product, too.

Sound ridiculous?

Put on your conspiracy theory caps and replace “tobacco” with “telco”, “eggplant seeds” with “WiFi”, and “terrorist” with “illegal images“, then read the text of the SAFE Act of 2007.

There’s a good summary at News.com, as well as a response from the bill’s author.

Better update your CFS subscription.

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