Pink Smart cars: Are an easy target for the not so smart

Sometimes, a cigar is just that: a cigar. Sometimes a car is just that: a car. According to recent reports, vandals have been stealing pink smart cars ForTwos from San Francisco. Or their arses. Once again, the talking heads are tied together, determined to connect the events to some higher message: It must be a protest against tree-huggers — a rebellion to those who force their lefty environmental views onto, well, everyone.

How is it possible to look at a problem so closely and overlook the obvious? Pink Smart Cars are easy enough to tip. They could be tipping Priuses if they were trying to reduce their carbon footprint. The only danger in tipping a Prius is being caught with a hemp bag containing organic pears and bread.

The Pink Smart cars are not being highlighted for any particular message. They are being bullied in the same way that the smallest child in gym class is given a wedgie. It’s cruel, it’s pointless, and it’s easy. The most memorable Smart is a Smart, who weighed in at 830 kg (1,830 lb). It’s not necessary for drunken revelers to think about it; they rarely think.

It’s not that lazy vandals looking for easy prey are always the best. Each generation has its targets. Volkswagen Beetles are the preferred vehicle of choice for engineering students at the University of British Columbia for decades. They lifted a classic Bug to the top of the university’s Clock Tower this year. In the 1960s and 1970s, beetles weighed in at around 800 kilograms.

Take a look at the remarkable feat accomplished by UBC engineering students in 2001. They suspended a VW Bug from Golden Gate Bridge. The car was hanging above the water with a Canadian flag on one side and a large E the other. Nobody knew the identity of the person or how until an anonymous fax revealed it. This prank was meant to commemorate a similar stunt that occurred 20 years ago when two students from the same faculty removed a Bug from Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge.

The Bug is often singled out in fiction. John Irving’s classic A Prayer for Owen Meany shows that it takes all of the basketball players to place the headmaster’s car on the center stage. Is Smart car the new VW bug? I doubt it. Ryerson University in Toronto uses a vintage Beetle each year to raise funds for Sick Kid’s Hospital. They push it around the quad for 24hrs. That Bug is back.

The true cost of vandalism is often in dollars, as with all other vandalism. It is easy to see pink smart cars falling apart on their heads. We feel a collective weakness when vandals desecrate cemeteries and monuments. This is not a monetary loss. You can replace a car, but many cars are written-off or damaged beyond repair.