Don’t tread on my gas stove!

New York State has banned gas stoves in new construction. Good thing I’ve got mine, Neil Steinberg writes.

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A Wolf gas stove with red knobs.

Those knobs might not look like much now, but they had a mesmeric power in the Abt showroom. And of course, the burners had to be gas.

Neil Steinberg/Sun-Times

Will the Russians nuke us? Or high-tension power lines fry our brains? Could we be poisoned by the water? By fluoride, or lead? Are we being gulled by subliminal advertising? Blinded by sitting too close to color television? Or by computer screens? Cooked by microwave ovens? Will cellphones give us brain cancer? Are we being crushed by overpopulation — too many kids. No, bankrupted by aging demographics — not enough kids. A new ice age, no, global warming. Africanized killer bees, on the move north. Would the airbag in my Honda slit my carotid artery instead of saving me? Will AI — Artificial Intelligence — start churning out content in one corner of the internet while consuming it in another, shutting humans out of the loop entirely and somehow destroying the world?

Honestly, by the time gas stoves were raised as a peril, I’d had a lifetime of ooo-scary threats that proved illusionary, an endless car alarm blare of empty warnings, so many that I’ve become immune. News of any danger without the immediacy of “you’re bleeding” is safely ignored.

Seriously. Last summer, a colleague phoned to say his Chicago cop friend was concerned about people on Twitter threatening to kill me. I chewed on this a moment, then replied, “Are they on their way here, now, to get me?” They weren’t. So I went back to gardening.

Opinion bug


So naturally, the alarm about gas stoves left me unmoved. This week, when the state of New York banned gas stoves in new construction, I didn’t feel either the planet nor Empire State children are being saved. I grew up with an electric stove, burning myself more than once on coils that were off but still raise-a-blister hot. Supposedly the new electric stoves are better, but gas stoves are what pros cook on — you’d no sooner go into the kitchen in a fine restaurant and find an electric stove than you’d expect to see them emptying cans of Progresso into a big pot for the soup d’jour.

I like gas stoves, but could never join Republicans in howling and clutching at themselves when gas stove safety was raised as a concern by a Consumer Product Safety Commission official, who put his foot in it during an interview.

“This is a hidden hazard,” said CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka. “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”

The word “banned” is like tossing raw hamburger into a tank of piranhas for government-scares-me-even-though-I’m-part-of-it Republican leaders. The water foamed and boiled.

“God. Guns. Gas stoves,” tweeted Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan.

“Don’t tread on Florida, and don’t mess with gas stoves!” tweeted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

What struck me is this: not for one second did they pause to consider whether the concerns might be valid. Straight from initial warning to — boom! — immediate sputtering aggrievement. Then again, any political party that shrugs off children being slaughtered in regular public school bloodbaths by assault rifles that have been banned in the past and could be banned again, well, let’s just say those children could be baked in gas ovens and the GOP wouldn’t stir to action, so long as drag queens weren’t allowed in the kitchen.

The stove conniption fit makes me think that it’s not the guns, themselves, that Republicans love so much. It’s the indignation. They’re offense addicts. They need to cast themselves as victims.

Then again, gas stoves do cloud a person’s thinking. We bought a 1905 house whose kitchen was a ruin, and for two years lived on microwave food while we designed and built a new kitchen.

Now we were standing in Abt having purchased new appliances for the kitchen, including two stoves, one gas, one electric, because one stove isn’t enough, apparently.

“Happy?” my wife asked. My eyes fell upon a Wolf industrial range, crouching nearby like a mighty beast.

“No,” I said, impulsively. “I want that one.” It had big red knobs. I think it cost a grand more than the stove we had just bought. But we tore up our order and got the Wolf. Because of the red knobs.

You know what? It was worth it. Those burners ignite like the Hindenburg going up. If Illinois decides to forbid gas stoves in future construction, to save children from wheezing agony, well, that’s fine. I’ve already got mine, and isn’t that what America is all about?

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