Rolling Coal

Testosterone fueled chest thumping is hardly new. Historically, displays of human bravado aren’t that different from the animal world, the strongest of all species prevail. Evolutionary wiring made mankind possible; competition always has, and always will be part of what we are. Revered are those exhibiting mastery of combat, weapons, physical superiority, strength and strategy.

Rolling coal came from such a place – pick-up trucks in “truck pull” competitions held at County Fairs modified diesel engines, pumping extra fuel to the motor, increasing speed and power. Extra burnt fuel resulted in bursts of black soot – soon the biggest, baddest blackest smoke bombs became  important as payload. Rolling coal – a macho crowd pleaser, one guaranteed to satisfy any desire to  “strut your stuff”.

Human nature being what it is, the practice naturally moved from Fairgrounds to city streets. No different from a couple of guys reeving engines at stoplights or staging impromptu pissing matches on the highway.

All fine and dandy until Elizabeth Kulze posted an article last month on vocativ, dubbing it “pollution porn”. Overnight the term and concept became a social media phenomenon.

The article “exposes” a sub-culture of redneck “meat-heads” spending thousands of dollars to modify pick-up trucks for the sole purpose of suffocating symbols of “Liberal” sentiment. Pedestrians deemed left wing, drivers of Japanese cars, and the big prize – bleeding heart environmentalists who “ask for it” by daring to drive a Prius or electric car.

“I run into a lot of people that don’t really like Obama at all,” one coal-roller tells Slate, which detailed the practice at length. “If he’s into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not. I hear a lot of that. To get a single stack on my truck – that’s my way of giving them the finger. You want clean air and a tiny carbon footprint? Well, screw you.

That paragraph says it all – rolling coal isn’t about who has the biggest stack – social media threw down the gauntlet – now any diesel-head worth his salt has to post a video of noxious soot fouling hand picked targets judged to care about the future. This quote from a campaigning Newt Gingrich at Oral Roberts University, Tulsa Oklahoma 2012 speaks volumes – “you cannot put a gun rack in a Volt”. Apparently America has more than gay and civil rights, abortion, Christian outrage and guns to worry about. Good Americans – those steadfast defenders of Constitutional freedom, loathe the environment.

Rolling coal entered social media’s arena, asinine encouragement of dim witted shenanigans has arrived. “Trending” makes no distinction between bat shit and reason – a equal opportunity curse, unfettered by conscience or consequence. Elevating and validating nincompoops, little more than hits and views.

Pondering isolated displays of bravado is one thing – wrapping my head around scores of socially unified jackasses, buoyed by the notion of strength in numbers, incapable of distinguishing attention from validation – depressing, the only description I’m capable of.

Rolling coal has understandable beginnings, social media making it a wing nut platform for protest – also understandable. Daunting as that reality might be, we don’t have to sit idly as these donkeys chortle. Come on America, enough of playing the whiny victim. A few days ago I never heard the term “rolling coal”. In the blink of an eye, I know more about it than I care to – simply because media took notice. Wake up America.