Sunday, April 13, 2008

They should call them child killers

There's one of those 4 x 4 beasts parked outside my house - right - this - minute. I can tolerate them driving past, but sitting just feet from my front door - that's something else entirely.

The fact is unless you're a farmer (or similar) you don't need this sort of vehicle. And if you are a farmer you'd probably be better off buying something more robust and work friendly anyway. I can't see someone putting a bale of hay into the back of one.

If you don't need it then you need to be aware that if you hit a child whilst driving one these monstrosities they are far more likely to die than if you were driving a smaller, lower vehicle. That could even be your own child, if you have any.

Whilst we all hope never to be in any sort of accident anyone with one of these cars is prepared to take that risk - in which case fuck them. You can't guarantee you are not going to hit someone but you are prepared to maximise the damage should that occur. The more of these things that are on the road the more dangerous it becomes to walk to school. Yes - fuck them.

Sadly I don't think many people who possess such a thing already will trade them in for a fold away bicycle any time soon. Once a decision has been taken it is far more difficult to undo and retrospective reasoning will come into play.

All sorts of dubious explanations for why you need a vehicle of this type will get deployed. My favourite that I overheard once was a woman saying that she needed a 4x4 because she took the kids to school down country lanes, as if other cars can't take these on. Sadly this is a risk that you take with other people's lives and not your own but the principle applies to other activities, like smoking, where you do the most harm to yourself. Listening to a smoker justify why they smoke is like listening to a free form jazz session of half baked ideas, half remembered half truths and the lies of the tobacco industry. Don't get me wrong, if it helps you puff away go for it, just don't expect me to take that shit seriously.

There was a fascinating piece on TV a few months ago where a series of men and women were shown two faces on cards and asked to pick which they thought was more attractive. The interviewer then tucked one card away and asked them to give a brief explanation of their reasoning, which they did. However, the interviewer, through slight of hand, actually presented them with the face they had rejected - and the respondents (usually) still went on to justify a choice that they had not made.

I think this happens in politics too. People end up justifying choices that they hadn't actually made because its easier to go along with the way it is than rock their own boat. How many people chose to have a monarchy? precious few - but there are plenty who are willing to explain why it's such a great way of doing things. I'm sure most people when they join, say, the Liberal Democrats have their reasons but whether these would bear any relationship to what they had to say on the matter say two years in when asked to justify it is another matter.

It's something we all need to be careful of, answering in a defensive fashion, creating reasons to justify what has already happened. In fact, having our own ideology shaped by decisions we took for completely different reasons. I bet there are plenty of Labour supporters who defend the actions of the government over this or that reactionary policy who would have torn into it tooth and claw had the Tories been in the driving seat.

It's simply more comfortable to tell ourselves lies than to accept that we've either made a poor decision or that a decision we've made comes with a series of problems we're not so happy with. Minimum wage plus dead Iraqi children equals what? If we're left detractors or supporters of the government we'll place our emphasis in different places - and we need to be careful we're not doing that, in part, because we have put ourselves in a position where we feel the need to tell ourselves we did not make a poor choice.

To go back to the 4x4 then. It seems to me the time to convince someone is before they make a poor choice, not after they've committed thousands of pounds to it. They'll only think "But it's too hard to go back, so I must be right to be here." And the more they know their decision is a selfish bag of crapola the more aggressive and defensive they'll become. It takes a special sort of person to be in a bad place, recognise the problems with it yet still stick in there because you feel you can't change course. Which is why I admire the Labour left so much even though I could never, ever rejoin them.


neil h said...

The whole 'you need them for country lanes' is a load of nonsense too. A few years ago I had to drive over to Stockport on a snowy day and I went via Winnat's Pass. I passed a 4x4 who had chickened out of making the attempt and had tried to do a three point turn in a narrow lane by driving up one the embankments, and had ended up flipped on his side. I checked he was ok and carried on, up and over the pass with no problems. I was driving a ten year old Nissan Micra ... :-)

Obnoxio The Clown said...

I'm amused by your cartoon. If there wasn't this insistence on green-ness from the EU, nobody would have been rushed into a mad race for biofuels and food production would not have been sacrificed for more profitable ethanol crops.

The environmental movement can hold its head up high as food riots break out in the third world, they have caused all this.

And as for your illiberal assertions about 4x4 owners, I don't understand the attraction of them myself, but if someone wants to chuck their hard-earned at one and the enormous running costs, what gives you the right to deny Gordon Brown an even larger share of the fuel duty?