The anti-environmental Right has done a good job of inducting off-road vehicle owners into its supremely cynical “Wise Use” movement, by arguing that mowing down the wilderness in dune buggies is an entitlement, if not a moral duty.
It’s not clear where the “wise” part comes in. Unlike hunters, who have a vested interest in conserving the habitat of the animals they hunt, ORV riders need conserve little more than mounds of dirt. A desert tortoise may deliver a satisfying bounce when you run it over, but once they’re all gone, a rock will do the same job perfectly well.
A recent ORV rally suggests that despite the prevalence of libertarian dogma in the Wise Use movement, its adherents tend not to respect the idea that one’s freedoms end where someone else’s begin:
”Groups of partiers were blocking an area and forcing women to bare their breasts in order to leave, along with numerous incidents of unwanted fondling of women. When law enforcement officers took action, the crowd became unruly, throwing objects at the officers.”It’s probably irresponsible to suggest that this behavior has something to do with the rhetoric coming from our ailing nation’s radical-right thinktanks , but so what? Irresponsibility is my inalienable right as an American. While it’s true that certain subcultures are more likely to be thuggish than others, it’s also true that the Right has done its damnedest to ally itself with those subcultures, and to conflate their witless transgression of racial, sexual, and civic norms with “individual liberty.”
At any rate, this is not an isolated incident:
The U.S. Forest Service also reports rising attacks on its rangers in connection with ORV encounters. ORVs allow deeper penetration into remote, formerly wild, areas by people seeking to escape social restrictions, often leading to destructive acts.Who could’ve imagined that contempt for the environment would go hand in hand with contempt for one’s fellow citizens, and for the law itself? Like anti-immigration extremism and racial pseudoscience, the ORV situation is a perfect example of how the Right puts a philosophical veneer on sociopathy in order to advance its business interests.