I looked up and saw what was making so much noise on the road between MLK Way and Rainier Avenue: a muscle car. The driver put the pedal to the metal and, if he had hit something, the energy in that mass of metal would have been released with great violence. The force of that energy might even overwhelm the energy that bonds the human body. One would have what Spinoza calls "a very bad encounter"—a good encounter being one that contributes to the strength and maintenance of your bonds.
The muscle car speed past me and came to a loud stop at a traffic light on Rainier Ave. All of that speed was for nothing.
As the driver impatiently waited for the light to turn green, I recognized its make: a Dodge Challenger, the exact same model as the one used in an act of terrorism on a crowded street in Charlottesville, Virginia. The car weighs two tons and, as David Dudley put it in The Urbanist, it is "wildly overpowered" and "has a well-deserved reputation for vehicular mayhem even when operated by drivers who weren’t actively trying to kill and injure others." It can easily accelerate from 0 to 100 mph in just under 10 seconds.
Last night, I saw that the futurist and electric car advocate Lee Colleton had Tweeted a picture of a muscle car turning into the crowded street in Pike Place Market—a place that should ban cars altogether.
When I see an American #MuscleCar on a crowded street I can't help but think of how many people it could kill in an instant. @pike_place #VZ pic.twitter.com/1HZlPO7j5K
— Lee Colleton (@sleepylemur) August 16, 2017
This is now something we have to think about. But it takes almost no intellectual effort to see there's not one good reason to make and sell cars that go faster than 35 mph. What is all of that extra speed for? Is there freedom in knowing you can go super fast if you want to? Why are muscle cars even made? What purpose do they serve? What kind of freedom is an American driver supposed to find in the top numbers of a speedometer?