You have a right to get an SUV!

society

I was chatting with an acquaintance of mine who recently purchased an SUV last week.

She’s a single 23-year-old female with no kids, and whose typical drive consists of going to the local Starbucks. I couldn’t help but rib her about her purchase, though I stopped mercifully short of noting that she was supporting terrorism.

Nonetheless, she exasperatingly insisted, “Look, Adam, I have a RIGHT to buy whatever I want. People have a right to drive any kind of car!”

I clammed up, not wanting to have her throw a hot Starbucks coffee on me. But here’s what I wanted to say:

With rights come responsibilities and, well, the necessary abrogation of other rights.

So in an ideal world… when you buy that SUV, you’d be agreeing to the following:

No complaining about gas prices or gas taxes
You bought a gas guzzler. Grin and bear it. Or move to Europe, where you’ll be a yuppie laughingstock AND pay at least double the price for your gas.

Pay higher insurance premiums AND pay into a “SUV Injuries” fund
I know that many of you bought your car so you could feel “safer” but it’s all a lie. Not only is your dumb-giant car ridiculously less safe for YOU (due to more challenging handling and its propensity to roll-over), it’s less safe for the folks whose line of sight your car blocks when moving or parked, and less safe for the folks you mow over in accidents that’d be more of the fender-bender variety with more normal cars.

Admit that you ARE helping fund terrorists.
Yes, much more than those stupidly maligned folks who take an occasional bong hit, despite what our oh-so-brilliant administration would like you to think.

By dramatically heightening our country’s dependence on gasoline you’re sending a (green light) signal to jerks like Bush and tyrants like Saddam that says three terrible things:
– Americans don’t want and may not tolerate fuel-efficiency restrictions
– There’s no mandate for exploring (much needed!) alternative energy sources
– The U.S. is willing to do anything… anything to feed its oil dependence.

Hey, we all do selfish things, and technically, we have a right to do them. I sometimes leave the water running when I’m shaving, and I’m a sucker for long showers, so I’m helping to deplete the earth of valuable fresh water. I admit it, and I’m not proud of it.

And truth be told, even though I have a compact and fuel-efficient car, I could be taking the bus or walking or biking more often. I get lazy or rushed like anyone else. But again, this is something I’m at least mildly ashamed of.

Lastly, I must admit that I write this entry with some trepidation, since I worry about alienating a kind BLADAM-reading friend of mine who has an SUV (not the person cited in the example above!). I want to make it clear that I still like and respect her as a person… I just don’t respect her decision to buy an SUV.

10 comments… add one
  • Adam Feb 20, 2003

    Wow, I must have more influence than I thought! 😀 Just a few hours after I posted my SUV rant, the awesome cartoonist Mark Fiore offered his own take on the situation:
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/fiore/2003/02/21/stimulus/index1.html

  • Michele Timm Feb 21, 2003

    You do have good points: SUVs are gas-guzzlers and they aren’t necessarily safer, although I don’t think Cherokees with their wider bodies, have the tendency to tip over like the others.  Okay, I own a Cherokee and I’m not proud of it.  However, I did not always feel this way.  I’ve owned my car for six years and I absolutely loved it the first 3 years.  My motivation for buying one was to make my then weekly trip (snowboarding) to Tahoe a lot easier and safer!  Ever been told by highway patrol to get out into 2 feet of ice water/melted snow and drop to your knees to put ice-cold metal chains on?  My friends and I have.  It isn’t fun.  So many of us bought SUVs, not to keep up with trend, but to haul ski equipment and drive safely in the snow.  That was then, before it became cool to own a SUV, before the outrageous gas prices and before this ordeal with Iraq.  I do not support war under the pretense of terrorism when it is really over oil.  Did you know Iraq is #2 behind Saudi Arabia in oil reserves and #13 in oil production?  It would make “W” and his friends much more independent of Saudi and insanely more powerful and rich to have control over that much oil.  All right I better get off my soapbox.  How did all this get started?  Oh yes, the power of SUVs to stir up emotions. 

    On a final note, I love my car but I don’t love how much gas it uses.  I do have plans to replace it after I’m finished with school =). 

    By the way Adam, I went to the Hornet on 2/14 to see Lavay Smith.  She was incredible as usual.  We were quite amused with a certain crewman who kept calling her “Lava” and not on purpose.  I thought I might see you there since you mentioned the Hornet in the past.  Well, maybe next time.

    I’m sorry to hear about your car and the tickets.  I’m sorry you’re thinking about moving.  Hang in there … San Francisco is truly a wonderful and magical place.  I too grew up in the suburbs and thought I would feel more at home outside of SF.  I never knew how much I belong to SF until I moved away briefly.  Take care.

  • Matt Hendrickson Feb 22, 2003

    Do Pickup trucks count as SUV’s? When I win the lottery, I want to buy a pickup. They are functional, as well as cool-looking!

  • Sean Feb 23, 2003

    When I went to visit relatives in Florida over the holidays, I was horrified to learn that my cousin bought (or rather, bound himself to a rip-off finance scheme that allows him to drive) a gigantic, ridiculous SUV.  (This is in Ft. Lauderdale, where there is truly never any practical use for an SUV).

    I quickly printed out a sign that read “Osama used my gas money” and secretly adhered it to the back of his gas guzzler.  Unfortunately I haven’t heard from him since…

    All that you say is true.  Tell your friend that of course she has a right to be an irresponsible asshole and to close her eyes to the world around her.  But please tell her to hide from foreigners and not to admit to being an American if she ever travels overseas, because I’m tired of people like your friend perpetuating the stereotype of Americans as whiny, boring, selfish, infantile brats.  I’m sick of the deep embarrassment that people like your friend cause America before the world.

    I hope your friend is satisfied with her right to be raped by the huge automobile, finance and oil corporations, with her right to buy into this absurd monstrous scam called SUV Ownership.  Because to keep your friend’s folly alive, we’re losing some of the key constitutional rights that make America America.  Does your friend realize that her government is pushing through legislation that would allow secret arrests of American citizens, non-public trials and the stripping of Americans’ citizenships merely for social association with people suspected of being terrorists?  (Don’t take my word for it—see PBS’ Now with Bill Moyers’ story about the Patriot Act II.

    Never in history such fascist outrages been legal in the United States.  This makes the communist witch hunts seem like a day at Disneyland, and it all stems from our grotesque addiction to gasoline.  Tell your friend to enjoy her big truck because it’s a lot more expensive than she realizes.

    (By the way, welcome to the neighborhood!)

  • Sean Feb 23, 2003

    Oops, the links were stripped from my comment above…  When I said “welcome to the neighborhood,” I meant that according to GeoURL you’re just a few blocks away…

    http://geourl.org/near/?lat=&lon;=&dist=500&p=http://www.cheesebikini.com/blog

  • Sean Feb 23, 2003

    Oh, and the Moyers/PBS/Patriot-Act-II link:

    http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript206_full.html

  • Adam Feb 24, 2003

    Great to see all the comments!  This makes me happy 🙂

    Michelle… I’m glad you’re still on talking (or at least typing) terms with me, despite my rant against SUV’s.  You know I still love ya, and I admire what you posted above.

    On less SUV’ian matters, I hope you had an awesome time on the Hornet!  For those who are curious what we’re talking about here, see this page: http://www.uss-hornet.org/

    Matt… about pickups… if you can convince me that one’d actually be useful and not just ‘look cool’ and use up lots of gas, you might get my grudging support 😀

    Sean… clearly, you and I think very similarly about politics with regards to the current administration.  I’m scared of Ashcroft, too.  However, while I think it’s fair to blame recent SUV purchasers for their selfishness and shortsightedness, I think that blame for the erosion of our liberties at the hands of Ashcroft and Bush should be squarely in those guys’ hands.  SUV’s or no SUV’s, they’d still find a way to support their oil cronies and stick it to the rest of us.  Putting their misdeeds completely on the shoulders of SUV purchasers (or, in the case of Michelle above, especially people who bought an SUV a long while back) does seem rather unfair.

    Lastly, on a linkin’ matter… unfortunately, this blog software gives me only two choices for comments:
    1) Have HTML turned off, but have typed-in URL’s automatically hyperlinked.
    2) Have HTML turned on (in a limited fashion, understandably), but then typed-in URL’s are not automatically hyperlinked.

    I chose #2, figuring it’d be easier than expecting folks to type in HREF crap.  But alas, I wish there was a way to enjoy the best of both options!

    Anyway, thanks again to all of you for commenting.  It’s heartening to know that people actually DO read what I write! 😀 And if you’d like to keep up on this stuff, do take a minute to signup for notifications at http://smilezone.com/signup

  • Matt Hendrickson Feb 24, 2003

    Well, Adam, up here it may not be practical to own a pickup if you live in the city. However, if you live on a farm or small town, and you need to haul a lot of stuff around (or help friends and family move), you would probably save a lot of time and gas by putting more stuff in a pickup than trying to load a 4-banger hatchback and make 5-6 trips.

    I don’t think that we can totally ban vehicles that get low mileage. Take for example 18-wheelers. When you haul 20-30 tons of material, your mileage will drop.

    My dad, who owns his own truck (and thus very concerned about fuel economy), figures a loaded semi with good mileage can get about 7-8 miles per gallon; 9-10 if its empty. But many trucks average about 3-6 miles per gallon when loaded (especially when factoring in road and weather conditions).

    Dad bought a new Pete today (Peterbuilt for non-truckers), but bought a 2002 engine for it. Why? Simply, the new emissions laws out for trucks means engines built in 2003 would wreak havoc with the mileage. Never mind the fact that it takes several diesel trucks to produce the emissions that one car with “regular” unleaded can produce. But that leaves the question; what should you sacrifice? Fuel economy or emissions?

  • Ski Apr 30, 2003

    Americans (YOU), the only people I know who spend WAY 2 much time worring about stuff thats none of their business.  Leave the SUV owners alone and just worry bout your own life idiot.

    What, tired of bitching bout cigaretts, second hand smoke?

  • Ben Sep 20, 2006

    My friend (who isn’t married, has no kids, and commutes 90 miles/day to work) is planning to buy one of those obnoxious GMC Yukons…one of the biggest & least fuel efficient of the SUVs.  I’ve been trying to convince him not to get one, but it’s kind of pointless.  Anything I say is pretty much lost on him, as he doesn’t watch the news, doesn’t pay attention to current events, and generally has no clue about what goes on in the world at large. 

    He has a vague notion that he’s a Republican (because that’s what his parents are) and votes as such, but if you ask him why, he wouldn’t be able to tell you a single thing that the party stands for.  If you were to ask him about individual issues, and especially the social wedge issues the Republicans love to trot out before elections to divide the populace, his answers would be straight down the democratic party-line. He’s a good guy and not stupid…just completely oblivious to everything outside of his little suburban bubble.  He’s bought the hype put out by the car companies/oil industry that SUVs are somehow cool and manly cars, and won’t listen to anything I say.

    I’ve pretty much given up trying to convince him not to get a gas-guzzling beast…the last time I mentioned it he got mad and said something about my ‘gay little hybrid car’ (I have an ‘06 Honda Civic Hybrid).  Bleh, I need some new friends.  I guess that’s what I get for living in Texas…hopefully not for too much longer.

What do you think?