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Rolling coal?


Though I had seen pickup trucks with smokestacks blowing black smoke, I did not know about “rolling coal” until the New York Times wrote about it a week ago.

Here is a new way for useless white guys to strut their hatred, as they are constantly encouraged to do by the right-wing media. Google for “rolling coal,” if you’re not aware of this phenomenon. Don’t miss the article in the right-wing web site Daily Caller: “Here at The Daily Caller, we are going to give you the basics on how to modify your pickup, so every hybrid driven by some guy in a pink Argyle sweater will know exactly where you stand.”

Here’s my question. How did so many Americans get to be this way? Until I know of a better answer, I’d have to say that it’s a combination of appalling ignorance combined with yet another way that the right-wing media teach hatred, aggression, and reckless, unproductive consumption.

I have encountered right-wingers who see it as a kind of moral duty not to recycle and to use incandescent light bulbs.

Months ago, as the rest of America gradually woke up to the fact that Donald Trump actually was going to get the Republican nomination, many articles were written on the disaffected white underclass who were enthusiastically backing Trump. Many of these articles called for sympathy and outreach. Some of the articles shamed both political parties for leaving these people behind. These useless articles have tapered off. Outreach? It’s clear that the angry white underclass cannot be reached except by the right-wing media, which is more than willing to flatter their ignorance and inflame their hatred for political purposes.

A couple of days ago I was having lunch in a fast-food place because I was so busy with my liberal political commitments that I didn’t have time to cook at home. I listened to a white guy at a nearby table explaining to another white guy why Trump was the only hope. “Things are gonna get really bad if Hillary gets in,” he said. It was clear that this guy thought of himself as well informed, as a kind of intellectual, a redneck wonk. He recited a long stream of right-wing talking points, including a list of places that we should bomb. Some of his talking points were deceptive half truths, the rest were pure horse-wash. Putting that stuff into his head is a billion-dollar corporate profit center. I don’t have the slightest idea what can ever be done about it.

I do know this. I’ve got to work my tail off between now and the election to throw Republicans out of office at every level of government. Disempowering the politicians who cater to these deplorables — and they are deplorable — is the necessary first step.


  1. Henry wrote:

    Good luck David. I’m glad you didn’t take them on directly. Isn’t Argyle out of style, I guess they don’t get it.

    Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 1:55 pm | Permalink
  2. DCS wrote:

    I had been at a loss of words to describe the group of people you evoke here — and I have a friend who specifically will NOT recycle anything under any circumstances, including participating in other people’s recycling programs. So in working on an article about Confederate Flag disputes in K-12 public schools, I have coined the term “spite culture.” It is a reactionary movement of people who protest progressive social gains by aggressively voicing their disdain or objection through acts and symbolic speech intended to signal defiance.

    As an empirical matter, it’s interesting to note that litigation involving students who wear or display Confederate Flags in public schools is increasing, not decreasing. In fact, more cases involving flag disputes in schools have reached the appellate level in the last 10 years than in any previous period. The same phenomenon can be observed with disputes involving students showing up to school in “God Hates Fags” T-shirts.

    These are obviously what is know as “test cases.” They are designed and intended to press the issue and spark litigation. The intent is to get federal courts to start taking a First Amendment absolutist stance in favor of the students against the schools that punish them, thus redirecting the path of First Amendment jurisprudence.

    “Spite Culture” is the only phrase to describe this behavior or that of the pickup truck drivers who go out of their way — take affirmative steps, in legal parlance — to spew coal smoke from their exhaust pipes. The only proper response to these people and these types of intentionaly provocative behaviors is to mock them and make fun of them and ridicule them. Laugh, clown, laugh.


    Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 6:28 pm | Permalink
  3. daltoni wrote:

    If they want a war of words in which it’s OK to say just any old thing, then I can think of a few things to say to them that they won’t much care for.

    The problem is, they’ll then very quickly reveal their tendency to violence.

    Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 7:00 pm | Permalink
  4. DCS wrote:

    They know they can’t reach to violence as a first choice, which is why they reach to speech and symbolic speech — “expressive action,” technically — as their M.O. It’s why we must always be leery of what Frederic Schauer long-ago dubbed “First Amendment opportunism,” using claims to freedom of speech to shield acts of aggression in a way it was never intended to do. I hate these people who distort the First Amendment in this way. DCS

    Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 8:52 pm | Permalink
  5. Dan wrote:

    The thing about the First Amendment is that it’s there to protect speech from government impediments, not to insulate other citizens from feeling one way or the other about it. You’re right that they can’t reach to violence against other groups as their first choice, as they have certainly demonstrated they would if given the opportunity. Thankfully, there are laws against violence and direct threats against people or property that prevent them from acting out beyond indirect symbols.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 12:57 pm | Permalink
  6. daltoni wrote:

    On the matter of violence, here’s a link from today’s Washington Post:

    ‘Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) told religious conservatives at the Values Voters Summit this weekend that blood might have to be shed if Hillary Clinton is elected president.

    ‘”I want us to be able to fight ideologically, mentally, spiritually, economically, so that we don’t have to do it physically,” Bevin said Saturday. “But that may, in fact, be the case.”‘

    Nor does it surprise me that religionists seem to be particularly drawn to violence. That’s one reason why I think it’s so important to use free speech to tell these religionists that they and their religion can go back and burn in whatever hell they came from.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink
  7. daltoni wrote:

    Another link:

    69-year-old woman punched in face by Trump supporter outside NC rally

    Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 6:55 am | Permalink
  8. Dan wrote:

    However they may fight ideologically, spiritually, psychologically, or economically, they’ll lose. The far-right has no bearing on actual American politics. The skirmishes during these protests are not indicative of the world that would exist under Trump. Goodness, love, and reason will prevail over fear and violence as long as decent people fight back. That said, if anyone uses violence during a political protest on another citizen in America, they deserve the most severe punishment in return.

    Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

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