Mischievous YouthWho among us doesn’t remember participating in some episodes of youthful mischief that we’d probably rather forget? Although they might have seemed fun at the time, doing things like TPing someone’s home, egging a car or leaving a burning sack of dog excrement on that guy who always told you to stay off his lawn’s front porch are not the acts that any grown up would condone—although I still say that lawn guy deserved it—and you’d probably punish your own offspring if they were ever caught doing the same things. This of course, places you in the awkward position of deciding whether or not to disclose your own youthful indiscretions. In the spirit of good cop/bad cop, I have already decided that should the situation arise, I will deny any participation in such activities, but calmly explain to my kids that Mrs. Crosby did, and has suffered feelings of deep regret ever since. I bring all this up since I recently read about a rash of “Smart car tippings” in San Francisco. Although the offenders remain on the loose, I can’t help but feel that this can only be the work of some local adolescents run amok.

The article I read compared this new plague on these vehicles that resemble Yugos suffering from stunted growth to the cow tipping activities embraced by youthful perpetrators in some of our more rural communities. As the name would imply, cow tipping involves drunken, bored teenagers—is there anything that brings the old phrase “idle hands, Devil’s workshop” to life faster than a few Q’s of Miller—navigating through a manure laden pasture to attempt to knock over a sleeping bovine. Obviously, its just a hop, step and jump from this juvenile anti-social behavior to becoming a meth lab proprietor, but the critical issue here is that this gateway crime has now found its way into our country’s urban areas, and I’m not sure we’re going to like the consequences.

On the surface, you might jump to the conclusion that these new scourges of San Francisco’s winding thoroughfares are just another group of alcohol fueled teenagers with nothing better to do, but I think the similarities in M.O.’s might be deceiving. I fear that unlike their country compatriots, who view rolling a defenseless Holstein as a prelude to throwing up in a friend’s pick-up, these new urban marauders have a definite agenda. The more snarky among you may say that their goal is to rid the city of a family of vehicles with an oxymoronic name that function as coffins on wheels, but you would be wrong. I think these young hoodlums have—wait for it—an “anti-green” agenda.

I know that many of you are probably asking how something like this could happen in our country’s most eco-friendly, feel good about itself for its “greenness” city, and I share your sentiments. No matter how often we see it, it is always sad when we see good young people, with their whole lives ahead of them, go bad. And don’t we know that this is just the beginning? Research tells us that all criminals start by committing acts of petty crime that soon escalate to more serious offenses, and isn’t this what we’re all really worried about here? Is it really that difficult to see that Smart car tipping will soon lead to even more undesirable activity like denying the efficacy of wind and solar power, actively supporting fracking, and finally (gasp) driving a pick up truck? I think we can all agree that no one wants that.

Obviously, we, as a society, have failed these car-tipping teens in a big way. And even if, and when, they are apprehended, is it too late to save them? Who would have ever imagined that the youthful pranks that we remember so fondly would ultimately become so politicized? The world is much different place than the one in which many of us grew up. I guess that we can only hope that once these offenders are entrapped, in what is sure to be a citywide manhunt, that their punishment will be swift and severe. Restitution certainly, but I think public shaming for their emerging heretical views will be a more effective form of justice than incarceration. Prison may change a man, but the rates of recidivism are simply too high to ensure that these urban thugs are properly brought to heel. Perhaps they should even be forced to purchase and drive Smart cars of their own, so that they can actually experience the societal good that everyone’s actions must contribute to. Some of you may feel that this is an overreaction to what may be perceived as simple (albeit expensive) youthful indiscretions, but, just as the horse is ultimately lost for the lack of a nail, the origins of non-conformity are just one upended Smart car away.

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