No stranger to the spotlight, Elon Musk is used to having his ideas--from sustainable energy projects to his electric vehicle revolution to his space journey ventures. This time, however, he's earning the ire of politicians and the media over his brazen endorsement of the new flamethrower offered by his tunnel-digging venture the Boring Company.
Now, with over 10,000 units being sold in the last 2 days alone, concern is growing about whether or not these flamethrowers could get into the wrong hands.
Though no one would suggest that they will become tools for training little arsonists, few would disagree that the sampling of customers who have bought the flamethrower since Sunday is not made up only of his tech-loving, energy-sustainability-seeking base of customers.
Some are pointing out that Musk does not realize how influential he is and should exercise some restraint, some responsibility, or both. His shared and retweeted line about the product, "I want to be clear that a flamethrower is a super terrible idea. Definitely, don't buy one. Unless you like fun," walks a fine line.
Unless you like fun— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 28, 2018
Flamethrowers: PR Stunt or PR Blunder?
The biggest pushback has come from California Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, who is seeking a total ban on the public sale of the flamethrower in the state of California. He took to Twitter to make his case, stating that Musk’s endorsement of mass sales of the flamethrower undermine his level of credibility with lawmakers on the underground tunnel project: "The state of California and the county and city of Los Angeles have entrusted Mr. Musk to help alleviate a real public policy problem here by executing a tunnel under the city to help alleviate traffic.”
Santiago also went on to say that Musk’s endorsement could also be seen as insensitive and reflecting poor timing, given the devastation and destruction recently experienced by many Californians as a result of wildfires, which by many accounts, are the worst ever witnessed in the state.
If this is real, I’m outraged and you should be too. If this is a joke, then it’s a terribly insensitive one given that we’re coming off of the worst wildfire season in history. Either way: NOT FUNNY. NOT GONNA HAPPEN. https://t.co/DCC2xyVsn4— Miguel Santiago (@SantiagoAD53) January 29, 2018
In terms of the SpaceX projects and Tesla automobiles, it is easier, more or less, for many of us to see the greater good behind Musk's actions. That being said, beyond the thrill of using one, it becomes tough to understand the passionate support and related campaign behind Boring's new flamethrowers. In terms of criticisms made about safety, after days of no doubt responding to claims that he was trying to influence sales too aggressively, Musk began responding with condescending jabs, no doubt done so to stress the harmless nature of the flamethrower.
But wait, there’s more: the flamethrower is sentient, its safe word is “cryptocurrency” and it comes with a free blockchain— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 29, 2018
Another example is his exchange with YouTuber and techie Marque Brownlee, not answering the question directly, and again taking jabs at those who raise safety concerns:
ATF says any flamethrower with a flame shorter than 10 ft is A-ok. Our design is max fun for least danger. I’d be way more scared of a steak knife.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 28, 2018
Perhaps unintentionally, Musk has created a PR fire that he alone will not be able to put out. He may need to call in a special team to handle this blaze.
Via: Elon Musk/Twitter