There oughta be a law against internalized bigotry!

How do you complain about identifiable groups of people without sounding like a bigot? Yesterday when my patience was tried by a particularly awful driver, I found myself wondering, and I also found myself feeling a bit jealous of the bigots (if it isn't a form of bigotry to refer to bigots that way), because they're the only group of people in America who are free to say whatever the hell they think.

Imagine that. Bigots are possibly the freeest group in America! Those damned bastards! I hate them, I tell you, I absolutely hate them!

There may, of course, be an element of self hatred involved in my hatred of bigots. Yesterday it certainly felt that way, because the more I thought about the source of my irritation yesterday, the more all signs pointed to this internalized self hatred.

My bigoted outrage started with an act of chivalry. On a crowded road which is under construction and covered with orange cones and barrels, I let a woman cut in front of me.

Now, right there, I see bias creeping into my speech. If I let her in, then how can I fairly say she cut in front of me? Well, sorry, but she did, and I did. She was bearing down in a very aggressive manner, inching meancingly out as if she was trying to decide whether she was threatening to hit the stream of traffic -- or tempting someone in it to hit the gigantic SUV she was barely able to control. Torn between being a pig and not hitting her, I waved her in anyway against my better judgment, and almost immediately her poor driving skills began to irritate me. She cut in in much too wide of an arc, circling widely and nearly hitting the barrels, then overcorrected and swerved, and I could see the following:

-- the SUV was filled with undisciplined children moving hither and thither;

-- the woman clearly had a very poor sense of spatial awareness; and

-- (WORST OF ALL) she was talking on her hand-held telephone!

Damn her for that last offense in particular! People like her are responsible for the growing public support for laws criminalizing the use of cell phones in cars, and of course challenge even libertarian anarchists to be fair. Yet the problem was not so much the cell phone as it was the fact that it was clearly the icing on the cake.

It's not that she was a woman, because many men are also Persons With Spatial Awareness Perception Issues, so as I contemplated my detestable sexist impulses I realized that to be fair I should refer to them all as PWSAPIs for short. But even there, am I being an anti-PWSAPI bigot? I can't be sure, but I really don't think it is a good idea for the PWSAPIs to be driving vehicles which challenge their spatial awareness issues, at least, not without special training. It's not so much a case of "there oughta be a law" as it is "there ought to be common sense." I mean, I don't need a law telling me that I should not just start driving an 18 wheeler on the highway if I never have before, do I?

Another thing: I have nothing against SUVs, and I don't want this post taken as evidence that I am an anti-SUV bigot. I say this because I've run into trouble before complaining about Subarus (aka "Lesbarus"), and I was chagrined to discover that Clayton Cramer is a proud Lesbaru Subaru driver. I would never advocate that there be another busybody law. But -- PSWAPIs should not just be handed the keys to one of these things without learning how to drive it.

And had this just been a poorly trained PSWAPI driving a gigantic SUV, I might have left well enough alone, as there are plenty of worse things in the world (like sex-deprived gymnasium shooters). But add to that the enormous distraction posed by filling the spatially-challenging vehicle with kids, and yakking on the cell phone on top of that, and it really was too much.

The whole thing brought out my inner bigot. Still, I won't say there oughta be a law, because I think PSWAPIs have a right to live in peace and harmony, and drive SUVs, and discipline rambunctious children, and change diapers, and talk on the phone. But if they do that all at the same time, I submit that it constitutes dangerously distracted driving. I've seen obviously drunk drivers I'd consider safer than this woman yesterday.

We don't need another law. Besides, there are already laws against distracted driving, just as there are laws against drunk driving and driving without a license. But as the case of the driver who never had a license but had "it" suspended 12 times anyway shows, such laws don't prevent violations -- even when they're enforced.

I should comfort myself with the certain knowledge that it is already illegal to be a PSWAPI on the phone driving a gigantic SUV full of uncontrolled brats.

posted by Eric on 08.05.09 at 11:45 AM


I like Subarus, but I don't own one. When it came time to buy a 4WD sedan, I discovered that I could buy a Jaguar X-type with a factory warranty for less than a Subaru with comparable mileage--and no warranty.

Clayton E. Cramer   ·  August 5, 2009 5:45 PM

Thanks for the correction. I assumed from your prior comment that you were about to buy one.

I didn't mean to accuse you unjustly.


Eric Scheie   ·  August 5, 2009 7:38 PM

Please don't go all bigot on me for being one of those PWSAPI's. I was born this way. :(

Plus, I will have you know that I compensate using the common sense you suggested. I drive a relatively small car (carefully, at that), have no kids, and hardly ever talked on the cell phone while driving, EVEN before my state made it illegal. Besides that, had you let me in, I would be the person waving and smiling at you for your gentlemanly good deed.

We common sense PWSAPI's are very grateful for any courtesies extended to us on the open road.

Penny   ·  August 5, 2009 7:54 PM

Penny: Common sense is an automatic disqualifier from the body PWSAPI. (That acronym, I believe, is pronounced '*sshole')

I know it would be too nanny-statist to contemplate, but when a driver moves to a different class of vehicle, it might not be a bad idea to ascertain that one can actually drive that class of vehicle. We do it for motorcycles, 'motor cars', buses, and trucks and I guess various farm and construction equipment.

Might not the change from a typical car to an SUV not also warrant a different license, or at least a new road test?

John Burgess   ·  August 6, 2009 5:05 PM

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