Old divides run deep
Ford or Chevy? It’s one of the great debates of our modern society. Long after we’ve decided between the Beatles and the Stones or “tastes great” and “less filling,” we’ll still be arguing about who makes the best American cars.
This past May, four buddies in Georgia discovered just how deep our car allegiances run.
Looking to unwind on a Saturday night, the men took their four-wheelers out for some off-roading through a rural field in Calhoun. After a few drinks, the Ford vs. Chevy issue came up, and rhetoric and reason quickly broke down into right hooks and uppercuts.
Then in the true spirit of Socratic dialectic dialogue, 21-year-old Zachary Wood decided to literally drive his point home by stabbing his buddy with a knife.
Definitely an awkward end to a boys’ night out, but once Wood has been released from jail and his buddy’s puncture wounds have healed, the pair have signed on to debate supply-side vs. Keynesian economics live on pay-per-view inside a steel cage.
First of his kind
For decades, Venezuela has been a driver’s paradise. Gas is almost free and highway rules are rarely enforced. That is until Ramon Parra messed everything up.
Parra, 41, now holds the distinction of being the first driver in Venezuelan history to have his license suspended. He was stopped by police in Caracas for driving an overcrowded passenger bus at excessive speeds with a rear wheel missing.
(To be fair, the wheel was packed into the back of the bus along with the passengers, so it wasn’t really missing.)
As one of the world’s top oil producers, Venezuela has become very car-friendly. Thanks to government subsidies, gas costs about 12 cents per gallon, making it economical to drive gas-guzzling cars at breakneck speeds. As a result, roads throughout the country have become crowded and lawless. Testing of drunken drivers is virtually unheard of, and highway speeds routinely reach 100 mph.
So in an effort to regain control, Venezuela passed tough new laws in 2008 aimed at cracking down on irresponsible driving. And after three years, they finally caught someone.
In order to show they mean business, authorities suspended Parra’s license for one whole year—a stiff penalty considering that the maximum suspension for vehicular homicide under the new legislation is only five years.
The highway salute
July is a time when we celebrate those freedoms that are uniquely American, like getting drunk in the backyard, shooting off fireworks purchased in another state from a store that also sells guns and karate supplies and flipping people off on the highway.
Unfortunately one of those freedoms came under scrutiny this past spring in Denver. Shane Boor, 35, was driving to work when he saw a Colorado State Patrol officer pulling over another vehicle. As he drove by, he extended his middle finger toward the trooper in silent disapproval. (Or as Boor would later tell the officer, “because you’re thieves and you harass people.”) The trooper took exception and sent for two squad cars and a patrol plane to track Boor down at his job and issue him a criminal summons.
Boor was ready to fight the charge, believing that his First Amendment rights were violated (and taxpayer money wasted). The ACLU agreed and offered free legal representation, at which point police decided to drop the case.
So this summer when you exercise your constitutionally protected expression of American pride at other motorists, just remember that you’re not flipping the bird, you’re flipping an eagle.