“Prius Repellent” is a perfect introduction to one of the Obama era’s great conservative subcultures: the men and women who “roll coal.” For as little as $500, anyone with a diesel truck and a dream can install a smoke stack and the equipment that lets a driver “trick the engine” into needing more fuel. The result is a burst of black smoke that doubles as a political or cultural statement—a protest against the EPA, a ritual shaming of hybrid “rice burners,” and a stellar source of truck memes.
I had initially posted a different article about Rolling Coal, with the hilarious title, Rollin’ Coal Is Pollution Porn for Dudes With Pickup Trucks, but then I thought… let me find something a little bit more thoughtful, and less reactive. This idea still baffles me, but y’know,
“the motivation for political coal rolling is roughly the same one that gets people buying guns and ammo after mass shootings. The expectation, every time, is that liberals will capitalize on the shootings to ban guns, so it’s time to stock up.
The use-it-before-liberals-ban-it instinct is powerful. Since 2007, environmental activists have campaigned for an Earth hour, 60 minutes in which people turn off all electricity. Since 2009, the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute has responded to this with Human Achievement Hour, a call to spend those same 60 minutes by keeping the lights on.”
So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
P.S. My friend Emily read this and responded, so I decided to share her comment here, because she knows things about cars, and she’s funny:
The main mistake in all of this is putting a political spin on it. It didn’t start as anything political. In the automotive world, there has always been tension amongst groups… Import cars vs domestic cars, lifted trucks vs lowered trucks, Ford vs Chevy vs Dodge, Audi vs BMW… You name it.
Rollin coal as a “street trend” got its start and popularity when diesel trucks would puke smoke on import cars (mainly Hondas). Why? Because it’s obnoxious. It’s right up there with purging your nitrous valves on another car, revving as you pass another modded car on the highway, and a slew of other silly stuff that car people do to each other. The dislike of the Prius was fueled by Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear UK, but it represents a general attitude that follows a population of Prius owners: Simply, they have their nose up in the air because they drive a Prius (complete with Coexist and Namaste stickers) and shop at Whole Foods. The video of the woman going off on a diesel truck owner who had his truck idling in a parking lot did nothing for the popularity (or lack thereof) of the little hybrid.
The attitude “against liberals” has very little to do with who is in office or not in office… It’s more about the attitudes that have been displayed (mainly the condescending tone which both articles posted above are dripping with). The really funny thing about the original article posted is that the truck in the very middle of the photo collage, the red F150… It’s actually burning biodiesel or vegetable oil. Pump diesel gives the dark black smoke. Other alternative fuels burn lighter and with a slight brown tint.