to those of you who support the troops from the comfort of your suvs…

If you didn’t read An Empire Wilderness today, you missed not only another great post by my friend Cory, but a link to a very nice open letter written by University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos to all those SUV drivers out there who make such a point of advertising how much they “support our troops”. Here’s a clip:

You, sir (or madam), are a monumental jackass. At this moment, American troops are risking their lives to protect your inalienable right to live your life in an impenetrable fog of selfishness and stupidity.

If not for the need to service this grotesque monstrosity on which you squander your money and that of the taxpayers who subsidize your comfortably numb life, those troops you support would not be getting killed and maimed in a country I doubt you could find on a map.

I sometimes wonder if anything short of dynamite can shatter your complacent fantasy that the Iraq war is about bringing democracy to the Middle East.

The truth is that every Arab from Casablanca to Khartoum could be cutting his brother’s throat, and yet this would remain a matter of indifference to our government if not for the need to ensure that you will be able to fill your Excursion with cheap gasoline.

To expect others to sacrifice everything for you, while advertising by your own behavior that you will sacrifice exactly nothing for them, is the height of political and social immorality. And to do so while claiming your political views are an expression of “moral values” is an obscene joke.

Drive off, Ford Excursion. Head back to your gated community, to patiently await the Rapture, or the next Nordstrom’s sale. You’ve driven me past the limits of pundit endurance, and I long to return to the world of thoughtful observation…

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15 Comments

  1. Posted December 15, 2004 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    What can I say? I agree.

  2. mark
    Posted December 15, 2004 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    In case you haven’t read it yet, I have an interview I did with Carrie McLaren on her anti-SUV pranks, and other stuff, up at the Crimewave site… We need to get creative and find a way to get these things off the road.

  3. Posted December 16, 2004 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I can think of plenty of illegal ways of getting them off the road, but legal ways? That’s tricky. The problem isn’t with the SUVs themselves*. It’s with the people who desire them and the people who are willing to produce them.

    They like their status symbol and so what if it costs twice as much to fuel as a regular car. It’s “safer”. And it puts them above all the little people who aren’t as successful and can’t afford one.

    Of course, as more and more SUVs are made and sold, that lessens the status symbol. So the manufacturers, knowing they have found the golden goose, make bigger and even more “impressive” SUVs. And so on.

    And that’s what we’re up against. It’s extremely hard to change the mind of a person who feels he’s right. Imagine someone trying to convince you of the advantages of owning an SUV, changing your mind, talking you into buying one.

    So. I’ll give it some thought and let you know if I come up with anything.


    *Yes, I know the problem IS the existence of the SUVs, but you can’t talk an SUV into not existing.

    Also, I’m still very tired. My son was up with a flu last night. So I’m sorry if this was rambling and pointless.

  4. brett
    Posted December 16, 2004 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    I don’t like suv’s, and think they should be illegal for many reasons, but the one thing that bothers me about the debate and attention they’re generating is that the dialogue somewhat suggests that all the other types of automobile are “Good”.
    While a little hybrid subcompact is certainly “better”, I don’t think personally that any car is really ‘good’, but rather a needed evil in a fragmented society whose structure has been dictated by the auto industry. I feel somewhat the same way about the arguments about drunk driving which get so much attention, while nobody would dream of suggesting that it’s really the ‘driving’ part making the ‘drunkeness’ dangerous, and that many thousands more die each year just because they spend so much time in an independently controlled metal box hurtling along at 70 mph in an anarchic environment of roads, most of which being initially designed for horse and buggy useage.
    With limitless options, i would personally vote to take an interurban trolley to my destination locally.
    But, answering your original question, i might suggest that we simply require suv owners to stop at every highway weigh station. The inconvenience might start making a reduction in vehicle mass more attractive, as it would appeal to people’s laziness.

  5. Ron
    Posted December 17, 2004 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Is the driving of an SUV safer or more dangerous to the precious cargo that you would be carrying,ie (your children)? Are you less or more apt to have your family injured or killed when that insane 16year old is blowing down the road in his “regular” car and loses it power sliding to show off and broadsides the SUV? Who do are you more likely to call when you need to load a couch or haul some lumber from the Home Depot, the friend with the SUV or the Focus diver? Who is always asked to drive the scouts and haul their trailer with camping gear? Who does your kid always manage to ride- share with on group outings? SUV’s are very much appreciated by all the people like who need them for their purposes. Have you ever seen the gruesome end children meet as the jaws of life have to pry their twisted little bodies from the wreckage of a “hybrid” or any other car under 2,000 lbs that meets in an intersection at 40 mph with another little car or even a tree? I’ve heard the self-righteous belly-aching from people like you my entire life. Funny, I drive my family away in my Ford Excursion (@13.8 mpg btw) and people like you drive away in their Japanese-made Toyota. I’ll give you you 23 mpg and your mini-van, and I’ll be the one that will be called to pry your lifeless corpse from the wreck you may have cause by yelling at your kid or talking on a cell phone as you blow the light and slam into an SUV.

  6. chris
    Posted December 17, 2004 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I AM SO PISSED AT CARRIE MCLAREN! She , or one of her folk put that ticket under the windshield wiper of my Subaru Forester (I live in Park Slope). ITS NOT A FUCKIN SUV IN FACT ITS THE LIBERAL PARTY’S TEAM CAR. It is a station wagon with better mileage than a 4 door Volvo sedan. But, can someone tell me WHY sll the SUV’s now have those stupid fuckin’ I support the Troops yellow sticker magnets on them? How, by keeping them there longer than they need to be? Really I mean it HOW? THey used to have the names of GIs on them now they are like fashion. Like the Lance Armstrong bracelts. I love it that insurgents are now blowing up the pipelines.

  7. Tony Buttons
    Posted December 17, 2004 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Wow, Ron, you’re the most colossal asshole I’ve ever met here, and, as there are always lots and lots of assholes here, that’s really saying a hell of a lot. Congratulations.

    I don’t even know where to begin.

    OK, first, you should probably know that SUVs aren’t safer. There are several studies on the subject, but a good summary of the material, in case you’re interested in the facts, can be found in the book High and Mighty. It’s written by the Detroit Bureau Chief for the New York Times and it’s quite well researched.

    As for me, I don’t own a car. If I did, I’d probably own a hybrid though. They get upward of 40 miles to the gallon. That’s almost three times what your vehicle burns though.

    As for who I’d call if I had to

  8. brett
    Posted December 17, 2004 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    I think what Ron’s basically saying is that he’s very frightened of the world around him, and is trying to find something to make him feel safer.
    Like most people, he turns to the media for the answer to his insecurities, and they (generally) present an image of suv’s as some sort of indestructible, magical solution to any possible harm that could ever befall you. So as a method of anxiety abatement, they serve a placebo effect and create a sense of protection, which could easily dissipate in the case of your first serious collision, or the first clever blog commenter to criticize the vehicle-especially as it pertains to safety.
    This, and there’s also the ‘compensation for lack of sexual virility” thing, but I won’t go there, as I myself have already said I prefer trains to cars and thus obviously have some phallic issues myself. I especially like trains when they go into tunnels.

  9. brett
    Posted December 17, 2004 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    I digress:
    It occurred to me just now that one problem with society may be that all forms of transport ARE designed to be phallic, and that perhaps the real long-term solution would be a more womb-like mechanism -perhaps like the device on “Stargate”- which would give the user a more peaceful feeling of prenatal regression, as opposed to the current options of basically fucking the landscape with vehicles of varying size and speed.

  10. Posted December 17, 2004 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I ride my bike, in winter too, and take the bus. Home Depot rents trucks, and I can drive a truck when I need to get pallets of insulation to my home. I had my stove and lawnmower (thank you Congdon’s!) and washing machine delivered to my home, no problem, no surcharge even. I’m carpooling to go to my folks’ home for Xmas. I have never needed to ask an SUV owner to move a couch or whatever. I’m an extreme example that runs the danger of seeming self-congratulatory or freakish. I don’t really care. I do think it’s silly to *choose* an extravagant lifestyle and then use that as a “justification” to buy a wasteful and dangerous vehicle.

  11. Posted December 17, 2004 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, the point that Laura is making is not trivial. NOT owning an SUV, or even knowing people who have them, is a minor inconvenience at worst. People WANT to own them and, as a result, must rationalize doing so. If you have any concern for your neighbors, fellow drivers, and fellow inhabitants of the world, SUV

  12. mark
    Posted December 18, 2004 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Having just witnessed my first human birth, I can tell you, Brett, that there is nothing peaceful about passing through the birth canal. With that in mind, I

  13. brett
    Posted December 18, 2004 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    mark, it actually looks like you’re telling the two churches in the background to fuck off, as well.
    as for ‘Fucking the Landscape’, go ahead and have it. My next 50 unwritten novels are already titled, thankfully. That is the hard part, right?
    And to be honest, my greatest fear involving actually inventing a large vaginally-themed transport mechanism would be that you may indeed invent your orgasm ray, and aim it at my devices’ clitoral appartatus, sending millions of innocent travellers to their deaths by way of paradise.
    There’s an even worse joke somewhere along this line involving a man trying to find a clitoris, by even i shan’t stoop to such vile commentary in a respectable public forum such as this.

  14. Posted January 23, 2005 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Mark, check this out…maybe you should something similar.

  15. mark
    Posted January 23, 2005 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I’m working on a business plan as we speak, Cory. Seriously… I really am. It’s similar to this in a way (in terms of the messages expressed) but the business model is different, and the process of designing the pieces is more collaborative. Perhaps we could talk about it one day. I think your input would be valuable.

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