Welcome to the Comment of the Week, where we highlight good comments in order to inspire more of them. You can help us choose our next one by replying with “comment of the week” to any comment you think deserves recognition. Please note: These selections are not endorsements.
Last week was a pretty boring one in the BikePortland comments section, wouldn’t you agree? (Ha, ha!)
For those just tuning in, a quick recap: earlier this month, a woman in southeast Portland woke up to find the tires on her SUV deflated in an apparent act of climate activism attributed to UK-based climate activism group Tyre Extinguishers. I saw several local news stories about this situation framed in a way I disagreed with, and I had a rebuttal to the common narrative I wanted to share. So I wrote up my op-ed, and watched as the comments started rolling in.
Going into this, I knew my piece was likely to draw some ire, but I thought the topic was important enough to risk the backlash. And I hoped that by writing this piece I could start a nuanced, respectful dialogue that I wasn’t able to find about the subject on sites like Reddit and Twitter. I was genuinely interested in how people would respond.
Well, respond they did. This article drew almost 200 comments in a day before we decided to freeze the comments section to loosen the tension a bit (and give our comment moderators a break!). While I did not believe all the comments were conducive to a quality, productive conversation, there were quite a few that I found thoughtful and well-reasoned (even if they didn’t agree with my conclusion).
So here are my picks for comments of the week. Two diametrically opposed viewpoints, both rational and thought-provoking.
From SD, who used sarcasm to good effect to emphasize the points I was trying to make in the article:
Wow!!! I have to admit, I almost didn’t read this article because I kinda thought it was old news (Sorry BP). But, now I am so glad that I read it and the COMMENTS! Ms. Griggs opened a magic portal between BP and NextDoor that sucked in all this high-octane moral panic about the deflation of our beautiful way of life. People that were sleep-walking toward the collapse of our life-sustaining ecosystem forgot about their catalytic converters and the unsightliness of poverty for long enough to write about the catastrophic harm caused to people who had to put air back into their tires. Even better, I learned that it is the people who are protesting climate change that cause other people to make climate change even worse. Who knew?
As an avid driver, I understand how what appears to be small inconveniences are actually the ravenous moths eating at the very social fabric that makes life worth living. When someone appears to slow down car speeds, touches a car they don’t own, or deflates a tire; AND then I imagine this happening to all the tires every day; AND then I imagine very unique circumstances where this might, at the very right moment, maybe cause more harm than driving an SUV everyday…. I lose my freaking mind! Aaarhghghaahgh!
But, now that I have had some time to reflect (as the avid cyclist that I am, BTW) I am seeing how the real “inconvenience to freak-out ratio” works in favor of tire deflation. This post, other news coverage, and the tire flattening has brought so much attention to the very important issue of climate destabilization, without any real harm. So cool! Thanks to all the hyberbolic pearl-clutching comments on this article, I get how awesome letting the air out can be. Heck, I just flattened my and my neighbors’ car tires and we had a good laugh while we pumped them back up. He was worried about being late to work, but in considering the many ways that the car-based transportation system that we have all become addicted to often fails us, we just had another good laugh about the tyranny of capitalism. Ha!
I guess it’s like Jonathan always says “read the comments,” the ridiculous things that climate-change-denying drivers say just might make you want to flatten some tires.
And from maxD, who disagreed with my stance but did so kindly and without making threats (and gave me something to chew on):
I agree that we are in an emergency and it can cause despair that people are not acting urgently. I disagree that random vandalism is smart tactic. I believe that we need to face uncomfortable truths and we will need to drastically change our lifestyles, but I strongly hope we can do it together. The last 5 years have shown us the ugliness of increasing tribalism and violence. TX strikes me as analogous to window smashing in the name of racial justice. There were people who lost their businesses over that. My point is that there are are villains, but the people driving SUVs are not them. It is selfish and clueless, but not villainous. The villains are Phil Knight, Jeff Bezos, Zuckerberg, et. The billionaires who exploit and control our economy and our politics. Having enough money for an SUV or the poor taste to buy one is not reason to target and vandalize them. Attack the power and the systems that are ruining our planet- alienating people that are really our wealthier neighbors will only promote counter-productive divisions and tribalism. It is so mean, and petty, and a total distraction from the very real oligarchs we should be targeting.
And as alway, thanks for all your comments. We appreciate hearing so many different perspectives.