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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

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Thursday, February 13, 2003
12:40 PM

"4SHAME..." New Volokh Conspiracy blogger David Post, backs, I'm sorry to put it this way, a stupid campaign to shame SUV users:
4 SHAME: If you are like me, and deplore the plague of SUVs and similar monsters on our streets, you might check out Earth on Empty, a group of artists out of Cambridge MA; they sell books of (fake) tickets that one can leave on the windshields of the offending vehicles, calling them to task for their (a) environmental selfishness and (b) bad taste. Shame may be the only weapon we have -- but it also may not be a bad one.

I resent it when people litter parking lots with trash, which is what happens when people stuff vehicles with unwanted fliers and many drivers toss them on the ground in disgust. I also don't want strangers tampering with my private property, and they are best advised not to.

As for the idea that SUVs represent selfishness, let's get serious. SUVs are not the main source of highway pollution; older vehicles with lousy pollution controls and newer ones whose catalytic converters are out of whack are the main culprits. They do have worse gas-mileage performance, but that's not the only way to evaluate vehicle choices. As soon as I can afford to, I'm going to buy an SUV to better handle my frequent jaunts into Pennsylvania, land of a thousand potholes and a million winter storms. SUVs handle this task much better than spunky little econocars, though the latter have their own virtues. SUVs also are better at handling the nonstop taxi services required of many suburban families, and if they're driven sensibly they are safer than the little coffins on wheels favored by the greens. Blaming SUVs as a significant environmental problem is a lazy liberal fantasy.

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