Bark's Bites: The Ethics of Driving a Murder Machine

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
by Mark "Bark M." Baruth

Here is who should have the right to get around in a giant hunk of metal traveling at speeds that will instantly kill a pedestrian, such that tens of thousands die every year and no one notices or cares: no one. No one deserves that right.

— David Klion (@DavidKlion) March 6, 2018

Oh, my friends. We knew this day was coming, didn’t we? In a society where all it takes for a cause to be popular is a tweetstorm, David Klion has decided that nobody should have the right to drive a car. Who’s David Klion, you may ask, and why should we care what he thinks? Well, he’s a freelance columnist (hey, so am I) and he lives in Brooklyn (I was born near there!) and he used to work for Al Jazeera America (okay, I would never do that) and he occasionally gets to write op-eds for the New York Times (like Ed Niedermeyer!). And, holy shit, I actually predicted this way back in 2016.

So while I may not particularly care what Mr. Klion thinks, it’s important to realize he represents the opinion of a significant number of people just like himself — people who are scraping by to make a living in ever-growing urban centers, who probably can’t afford a car and probably don’t have a driver’s license, and have seen how the power of a few malcontents on social media can affect significant social change in these United States of America.

In other words, they’re very, very dangerous. And in order to show you how dangerous they are, I’m gonna have to talk about the third rail of American politics at the moment: The Bill of Rights.

You see, there’s nowhere in the Bill of Rights that protects your or my right to drive an automobile. Nowhere. Of course, the automobile didn’t exist in 1791, so maybe if it had, the Founding Fathers might have seen fit to protect it. And maybe if we’d had keyboard warriors back in the days of Henry Ford, our legislators might have felt it appropriate to amend the Constitution to give citizens the right to own and operate an automobile freely in the manner of their choosing.

Alas, none of this happened, and so here we sit on the precipice of losing our rights to drive. You think I’m being hyperbolic? Perhaps overstating things? I don’t think so. All it will take is one incident that shocks the nation into action, one terrible school bus accident that produces a figurehead for a movement.

After all, we didn’t seem to care very much about the 3,457 shooting victims in one year in the City of Chicago last year (and that was actually down from the previous year). But when the media told us we needed to care about gun violence, we all of a sudden became very, very concerned. It took the Florida legislature about two weeks to pass significant gun laws after the Stoneman shooting.

So what would happen if a crazed driver started mowing down kids in front of a school? It’s not like we don’t have a script on how to do it. We had a failed attempt at the university level recently. Or what if a horrific school bus accident kills a few dozen elementary school kids? That’s happened before, too. What if, say, an Oprah Winfrey tweetstorm about “we need to look at how our addiction to cars is killing our children” starts to make people think that turning over their keys wouldn’t be such a bad idea?

It would never fly in the Midwest, you might think. Folks, I have news for you — people in New York and California don’t care much about what the Midwest thinks. They have developed their own sense of morality, their own secular religion. You can look to our superiors like Mr. Klion for proof of that.

How I envision avg US metro area in 20-30 years, if we do everything right:

-no private cars
-publicly owned fleets of driverless electric vans/buses/cars, handicap-accessible
-new, functioning rapid transit lines wherever possible
-parking lots become housing, parks, businesses

— David Klion (@DavidKlion) March 7, 2018

As our friend Alex Roy is constantly reminding us (God, I hate linking to The Drive), there is no proof that driverless cars are any safer than human drivers. There is no defined safety standard, no protocol for how a car should protect human life in the event that loss of life is unavoidable. There is no reason to think that we would be any safer, period. I can’t count on my Apple phone to not crash during a particularly heated arena battle in Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, so why would I think that my Apple Car would be any different?

Tfw two children are murdered and the pregnant mother of one of them is critically injured in your neighborhood at an intersection you walk through constantly because someone ran a red.

Tfw multiple people you know have lost loved ones in car accidents.

— David Klion (@DavidKlion) March 7, 2018

It’s this sort of drivel that’s meant to appeal to the Feelsville society we’ve created. Yes, the automobile is probably the most important invention in the history of mankind, has probably given more freedom to more people than any other creation ever, but CHILDREN ARE BEING MURDERED OUT HERE.

So I agree with Mr. Roy when he says that a constitutional amendment is needed. I welcome the debate that would come from it. I want to see who lines up on what side of the aisle, which lawmakers want to defend my right to drive, and which ones want to make it impossible to live in Winchester, Kentucky. I want to see how people who live in their third-floor walk-ups that cost $2,500 a month and live miserable lives full of crime and inconvenience act condescending toward me and my Murder Machine. I want this to become a divisive political argument, and I want to stand on the “wrong side of history” with the Drivers.

Write your congressman and your senator and tell them that you support the right to drive. Join the Human Driving Association. You’ll see that I’m right when I tell you that your right to drive is going to be challenged much, much sooner than you ever imagined it would be.

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3 of 165 comments
  • Hpycamper Hpycamper on Mar 09, 2018

    Extremist tunnel vision vs extremist tunnel vision. Wonder where sensibility went?

  • Greg Locock Greg Locock on Mar 10, 2018

    Well let's try some rational discussion instead of the tedious click baity rant at the top of the page. There are soon to be several trials of L4 cars in the real world over the next couple of years. From these we'll get real life statistics of the safety of AVs versus meat driven murder machines. There are three possible outcomes. (1) AVs cause more accidents or casualties than murder machines. (2) within the statistical limits of the data the accident or casualty rate of AVs is the same as murder machines. (3) AVs are safer than murder machines. It would be very convenient for the mouth breathers if (1) turns out to be the case, but on the evidence we've seen so far I suspect 2 or 3 is more likely, in fact I suspect 3 is the most likely. So instead of writing click baity ill informed rants why not wait for a couple of years and see what the data tells us? .

    • Eliandi Eliandi on Mar 12, 2018

      I agree Greg, even if L4 cars are not as safe as humans in a few years, give them a few years more and I expect they will be. The technology is coming, and the masses want it based on the adoption of current driving automation. How we handle it as a society (the law, the economics, etc) will be interesting.

  • Dave M. Although the effective takeover by Daimler is pooped upon, this is one they got right. I wasn't a fan of the LHs, mostly due to reported mechanical, NVH and build quality issues, but I though Chrysler hit it out of the park with the LXs. The other hyped release that year was the Ford Five Hundred, which, while a well-built car with superior interior space, couldn't hold a candle to the 300.
  • Art Vandelay I always liked those last FWD 300's. Been ages since I've seen one on the road though. Lots of time in the RWD ones as rentals. No complaints whatsoever.
  • Cardave5150 I've had 2 different 300's - an '08 300SRT and an '18 300C. Loved them both a LOT, although, by the time I had the second one, I wasn't altogether thrilled with the image of 300's out on the street, as projected by the 3rd or 4th buyers of the cars.I always thought that the car looked a little stubby behind the rear wheels - something that an extra 3-4" in the trunk area would have greatly helped.When the 300 was first launched, there were invitation-only meet-and-greets at the dealerships, reminding me of the old days when new model-year launches were HUGE. At my local dealer, they were all in formalwear (tuxes and elegant dresses) with a nice spread of food. They gave out crystal medallions of the 300 in a sweet little velvet box (I've got mine around the house somewhere). I talked to a sales guy for about 5 minutes before I asked if we could take one of the cars out (a 300C with the 5.7 Hemi). He acted like he'd been waiting all evening for someone to ask that - we jumped in the car and went out - that thing, for the time, seemed to fly.Corey - when it comes time for it, don't forget to mention the slightly-stretched wheelbase 300 (I think it was the 300L??). I've never found one for sale (not that I've looked THAT hard), as they only built them for a couple of years.
  • Jkross22 "I’m doing more for the planet by continuing to drive my vehicle than buying a new one for strictly frivolous reasons."It's not possible to repeat this too much.
  • Jeff S Got to give credit to Chrysler for putting the 300 as a rear wheel drive back on the market. This will be a future classic.