Deadly precursors and eliminationist rhetoric

My blogfather Jeff Soyer picked up on this story about the now notorious "burrito lockdown" incident:

CLOVIS, N.M. - A call about a possible weapon at a middle school prompted police to put armed officers on rooftops, close nearby streets and lock down the school. All over a giant burrito.

Someone called authorities Thursday after seeing a boy carrying something long and wrapped into Marshall Junior High.

The drama ended two hours later when the suspicious item was identified as a 30-inch burrito filled with steak, guacamole, lettuce, salsa and jalapenos and wrapped inside tin foil and a white T-shirt.

Much as I hate bureaucrats, in our haste to laugh at the story, some important scientific facts are being forgotten.

It is beyond scientific dispute that burritos, which consist of copious amounts of beans, are a precursor ingredient to not just one, but TWO deadly gases: Methane gas and Hydrogen sulfide gas. Not only have both types of gas proved fatal to humans, but it has been documented that the type of gas emitted after consumption of such precursors as the burrito in question has been used as fuel for vicious improvised human flame throwers!

"The only notable fact about methane is that it burns with a blue flame," says Van Thiel, "and that's why crazy college kids who like to, uh, ignite their flatus have to be methane producers. And those who make more methane are more like flamethrowers than those who don't."
Lest anyone think this is funny, it is a serious, growing, and um, explosive problem among young people today:
Flatulence ignition is the practice of setting fire to the gases produced by flatulence. It is practised primarily among young men, but discouraged for its potential for causing injury. Lighting such gas can result in burns or explosions. Clothing or hair may catch fire and sensitive tissues can be damaged.

Such experiments may occur among young men on camping trips or in single-sex group residences such as dormitories or fraternity houses, but the flammability of bodily gases has caused serious problems in the operating room and also in slaughterhouses.

Fortunately, the quick intervention of school authorities prevented the deployment of a possible terrorist device -- or even a weapon of mass destruction.

Moreover, the same gases are so deadly to the environment that they'd most likely violate the Kyoto Accord.

Furthermore, Spanish artist Salvador Dali associated beans with the rise of fascism, and the Spanish Civil War!

What's so funny about death and destruction caused by poison gas? Might it be time to start asking what's really behind such thinking? Wasn't this particular laugh-at-deadly-precursors meme started by Glenn Reynolds?

Yes! And the latter even joked about the deadly nature of this poison gas precursor!

Dare we call it eliminationist rhetoric?

posted by Eric on 04.30.05 at 10:57 AM


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Tracked on April 30, 2005 11:17 AM


I love the phrase "sensitive tissues can be damaged" -- what a nice way to say the idiot in question could become a Darwin award nominee while still living.

Kathy K   ·  April 30, 2005 6:05 PM

At this point I'm afraid to make as much as a single wisecrack!


Eric Scheie   ·  April 30, 2005 11:40 PM

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