In interviewing a handful of Hummer owners, Amy Roe succeeded in eliciting self-damning paeans to the "free-market" ["Endless Hummer," WW, April 30, 2003]. Mr. Carney's "well-informed" wisdom apparently doesn't include variables such as distribution costs, local taxes or externalities (and one wonders if Mr. Holt's unquestioning allegiance to the president is transferable to Democratic presidents).
But the most intriguing aspect of Roe's article was the lack of any quotes from the Hummer owners directly addressing the questions raised about emissions and collisions. Devilish details notwithstanding, fuel efficiency is primarily an economic matter, where invocations of supply and demand do indeed have some bearing.
But emissions and collision safety are first and foremost questions of morality, where even fools have little room to hide. Owners of Hummers, Escalades, Suburbans, Excursions and the like exhibit a willingness to degrade our commonly shared atmosphere to the maximum degree possible. And they choose to assume a disproportionate advantage in the event of collisions; what might be a mere fender-bender between like-sized vehicles can easily result in a fatality when there is a mismatch between the tonnage and chassis of an oversized SUV impacting on the average sedan. And for what? Not for the hay-bale- or plywood-hauling utility of honest pickups or vans, but pure egoism and aesthetic.
Those who choose to own and drive these vehicles are blatantly expressing a disregard for their fellow citizens; they have opted to pay a premium price for vehicles of no utility and maximum offense.
Northwest Johnson Street
Willamette Week's article "Endless Hummer" was, to me, a powerful affirmation that some people are greedy, unconscious, uncaring fucks. I struggle to understand the mentality behind the desire to own a vehicle that has abysmal gas mileage, is a deadly steel-hulled threat to anyone unfortunate enough to get nailed by one, and costs several times more than functional, mileage-efficient transportation. Sometimes I feel like a goddamned alien. I just don't underfuckingstand it.
Hummer owner Doug Holt epitomizes the blatant disregard for his surroundings, his fellow humans and their surroundings. Why should he care? He "works hard so he can play hard." He sounds like a commercial. Maybe he could work a little less hard, and play a little less hard. Then, he could combine the time he saves playing and working less hard, and read a fucking book or do a little research, or even pay a little attention to the negative impacts of his decision.
Ultimately, I don't feel sorry for a guy who owns an H2 and a goddamn Mercedes. I don't feel sorry for a guy who owns "plenty of cars" in addition to a Hummer. I don't feel sorry for millionaire athletes who have three Hummers. I wouldn't shed a single tear if they rolled their metal beasts right in front of me and spread their brains on the pavement like greasepaint.
Instead I'll cry for all the people who, in the long run (a run that is getting very short), are going to have to live in a world with people who are saying that they just don't give a fuck about you or your world. The only world, I might add, that we have.
But what do I know? I'm just a 26-year-old kid, with idealistic hopes for a destructive species. I want to help people. I want to help people understand when they are hurting someone or something else. I want the world to be a good place to live, and live well, for everyone.
Well, shit. Maybe soon I'll grow up and begin to understand everything that I've been missing. I'll understand that fuel economy doesn't matter because there is an endless, convenient supply that is not fraught with danger. That solar and wind power are just faggot-hippie conspiracies. And that the abundant emissions from the countless fossil-fueled vehicles worldwide aren't choking the life from all its inhabitants. Hopefully I can wrench myself free from the shackles of common sense and know that my destructive choices just don't apply. I'm sure I'll come to realize that because I work hard (like nobody else does), I deserve a Hummer in addition to the other operational vehicles that I have had the financial good fortune to purchase! Silly, tree-hugging liberals! The earth is fine!
Southwest Boones Ferry Road
Your April 30 cover story on Hummers provides a good window on the "Ugly American" mentality that leads people all over the globe to equate the United States with greed and arrogance. Oil is only one example: The United States makes up less than 5 percent of the world's population, but we account for more than 25 percent of the world's oil consumption. Of course, we have the right to consume as much as we want, and the rest of the world has the right to live with the consequences. WW writer Amy Roe straight-facedly refers to anti-war protesters' political extremism, with no quotation marks. No, this caliber of global inequality of resources and waste, and a total disregard for their environmental and political consequences, is the real extremism.
Also, it is ironic that the United States purports to establish democracy in Iraq, while here at home people such as proud Hummer-owner Doug Holt say, "Whatever the president decides you have to support." When people can be brought up to believe that, totalitarianism becomes totally unnecessary as a way of keeping people from interfering with the wills of those in power.
It is fine to condemn the most egregious examples of greed, but this can tend to absolve the rest of us from responsibility. Couldn't all of us afford to drive less, conserve more and do more to support sustainable sources of power?
Southwest Corbett Avenue
News Editor John Schrag responds: One point needs clarification. Amy Roe wrote, "The problem, as Holt sees it, is Portland's political extremism." Although Holt's sentiments were paraphrased, the attribution was clear.
FLAME THE FCC
I was anxious to read your April 23 cover story ["Corporate Media is the Disease"]. "How promising," I thought, "some coverage on the homogenous corporate media structure that undermines our democracy." But alas, the article was little more than a means for its writer to strike back at portlandindymedia.org for posting an abrasive remark on their website; an attempt to settle the score; a chicken fight in disguise. I'm sorry your feelings were hurt, Mr. Budnick, but is WW really an appropriate place to hold a grudge match--and then pawn it off as a cover story?
There are more important media issues in America today. While you're searching for ways to sock it to the hippies, Michael Powell and the FCC are preparing to make some changes to media ownership rules--changes that are designed solely for the benefit of the mega-conglomerates. This is an issue that corporate media is deliberately ignoring in the hopes that the public (you know, the ones who own the airwaves) won't mobilize to stop it. Now this is an issue that deserves a cover story...or are you ignoring it, too?
Southeast Main Street
What's interesting to me about spArk and Deva ["Corporate Media Is the Disease"] is that although they preach a reclamation of "virtue," "the human experience" and, of course, capital-T "Truth," their definitions of those terms are vague, rhetorical and, it seems to me, pretty much meaningless.
For example: "People are feeling the urge towards a real firsthand life." Well, what is that? When I turn off my television and avoid Starbucks, am I suddenly in "firsthand" life, or do I have to do something more invocative of the sublime? It just so happens that the way I, and most people, make sense of our lives is heavily informed by all the media we've experienced in our lives; and you may be able to take the man out of society, but you can't take the society out of the man.
On the other hand, the actual investigations they've done, such as the Qwest-billboard connection, have dug up some fabulous dirt, and for that I salute them. But it's important to remember that those investigations operate in a very American tradition of journalism, a very "objective" tradition which would immediately discredit reporting for ideology's sake.
Oh, and there doesn't seem to be anything particularly "firsthand" about communicating through a website.
Adam Van Loon
Chief Editor, March Magazine
Northwest Lovejoy Street
THE PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER
I am a Portland Indymedia volunteer, and had I known that Nick Budnick was going to slant his article ["Corporate Media Is the Disease"] against Deva and spArk, I would have responded to his request for information. Unfortunately, I don't think it would have made a difference. He never asked us, "Do Deva and spArk run the show?" He went into the article assuming this, and used voices from the past to back up his assumptions.
I moved here last September and got involved with Indymedia shortly thereafter. I was warmly welcomed, and after showing that I was dedicated and could make features, I got the password. So no, it is not an "inner circle" who makes decisions--it is everyone who is dedicated enough. But not many people are. Being an Indymedia volunteer is a thankless, time-consuming job. It takes a lot of work to keep a website of our caliber and popularity running.
If Deva and spArk are seen as spokespeople for Indymedia, it is because they have been around longer. I cannot speak for what happened before I joined; I only know that this site is not run by two individuals, but collectively. If you have never been to a meeting, you don't know the level of discussion that goes on.
The truth is, anyone can be a part of Indymedia--it just takes a lot of dedication and hard work. If you are willing, I invite you to come to the Red & Black Cafe on Saturdays at 4:30.
Southwest Alder Street
THE W WORD
Until your recent edition, we'd never heard the term "wigger" ["Wigger, Please!," April 23, 2003]. It took us a while to realize that the "w" in the word was substituting for an "n." Would Willamette Week ever have printed a headline that said, "Nigger, please!"? If not, then why is it OK to use this new slur? Using the n-word in conversations (especially among white people) is inappropriate; using a "w" instead of an "n" doesn't make it less offensive.
Jesse Winter and Kate Wolfe
Northeast Sandy Crest Terrace
David Walker responds: In hip-hop parlance, a wigger is a white person who adopts the dress or speech patterns of black culture. In using the term, I meant no offense--or at least no more than the offense of white people who make money by emulating the more negative aspects of black culture.