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Controversial Topic On Suv's. Essay

1230 words - 5 pages

Controversial Topic Assignment.Why I Luv My SUV.Byline: Walter Kirn I feel bad for my black '97 Toyota Land Cruiser. All it ever wanted to do was serve me--by blasting through snowdrifts, fording flooded driveways and pulling my wife's VW out of ditches--and in all these chores, it has succeeded splendidly, yet certain people hate it. They hate its kind. They accuse my Toyota and its beefy brethren of being wasteful, anti-social, dangerous and even of abetting terrorism. I'd like to think that the critics' hostility, like other forms of bigotry, stems from ignorance--because they simply don't know my vehicle or the rugged Montana terrain it ranges over. But I sense that their anger has deeper roots. Some people just feel incomplete without an enemy, and as it grows increasingly unacceptable to show intolerance toward any group of humans, it becomes more tempting to condemn inanimate objects. They can't defend themselves. They can't hire lawyers or take out full-page ads. So whether the butt of the latest self-righteous crusade is a cell phone, a double cheeseburger or a bottle of malt liquor, it has no choice but to sit there and take its beating. As the owner of an SUV, I feel duty-bound to speak up for my poor vehicle--and for myself, since I feel beaten up too. Nothing takes the pleasure out of driving like the suspicion that at every four-way stop, someone in a fuel-efficient compact is sneering at my moral deficiencies. I might as well be wearing a scarlet letter (three of them, actually). I want to scream, "But I live on a dirt road! I have a farm! See all the mud on my fenders! I need this rig!" Experience, though, makes me doubt that such protests would do any good. When I was a kid, my father drove a Town & Country wagon roughly the size of a supertanker. One day a forward-thinking uncle asked me, "Why does your dad drive that gas guzzler? Doesn't he give a damn about the planet?" When my father caved in and bought a Honda Civic, he displayed the zeal of the convert and--drunk on virtue and high mileage--indignantly began to point out land yachts everywhere. My brother and I, jammed into the backseat, felt differently. We missed the Town & Country. Now it's the SUV's turn to wear the dunce cap, but this time around the disdain feels particularly shrill and personal. According to their enemies, SUV drivers aren't just road hogs; they're also sociopaths who are overcompensating for deep-seated feelings of inferiority. I resent being psychoanalyzed this way. I resent being classed with gun nuts and sexual predators every time I switch into four-wheel drive. I'm after traction, not dominance, O.K.? It snows a lot where I live, and my desire to reach my office safely isn't proof of some dark syndrome. But what about the SUV drivers who never leave the dry pavement of the suburbs? I'll confess that they bother me too, sometimes, especially when they drive Hummers and other mutant monstrosities of the sport-utility class that have gone...

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