Elon Musk draws criticism for fire-spewing merchandise

The serial entrepreneur has released a flamethrower—which he is calling ‘not-a-flamethrower’ for legal reasons—in his latest move to draw a crowd. Will this new effort backfire?

Elon Musk’s Boring Company has its first product for sale—and it’s a very hot item.

The organization released a $500 gun that produces a flame, though it’s been referring to the product as “not-a-flamethrower” to appease legal authorities.

Musk has been crowing about the product from his very active Twitter account:

For those who question the usefulness of Musk’s new toy, the tech tycoon had some suggestions:

Musk has been somewhat sensitive to critics questioning the wisdom of selling dangerous weapons to private citizens. However, even the safety concerns were written up in a jocular, flippant style:

The product has been getting plenty of buzz on social media, with users sharing pictures and videos of their exploits using the flame-belching tool. Others found Musk’s safety precautions insufficient.

In an Op-Ed for the LA Times, Matthew Fleischer panned the device’s safety literature:

The twee reference to not pointing the flamethrower “at my spouse” is particularly galling. Weapons are routinely used in intimate-partner violence, with deadly effect. It happens all the time. It’s not a comic impossibility—especially in the context of a new product on the market that could clearly be used as a weapon.Perhaps worst of all, these flamethrowers are being sold in service of a tunnel idea that has widely been panned. With good reason. Yes, tunnels are great for mass transit. But tunnels in service of private vehicles fill up and get crowded, just like any other road.

As if we needed more examples, Musk has once again illustrated the danger of putting the future of humanity in the hands of capricious billionaires. Even billionaires with good-ish intentions.

Others pointed to California’s tragic history with wildfires, decrying Musk’s flamethrower as dangerous to the public.

USA Today wrote:

Worries are being expressed in states with high fire danger, such as California, which saw massive wildfire losses in the past year.Miguel Santiago, a state assembly member from Los Angeles, authored a bill to better control the sale of flamethrowers in California.

To address the safety hazard posed by his flamethrower, the device will come with [a] fire extinguisher. Plus, The Boring Company said it is going to donate $10,000 to California Wildfire Relief Fund.

Until something goes wrong, Musk and The Boring Company can enjoy all the social media hype from the exciting and camera-friendly product.

What do you think of Musk’s social media ploy?

(Image via)


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