The Right Pedal

Saturday, April 01, 2006

High crimes & misdemeanors

Earlier this week, I overheard a conversation between my cubemate and a friend of hers. (Let’s call her Rhonda.) Rhonda ranted about her landlord, who somehow pissed her off. I was rocking out to the drone of a hurdy-gurdy for the first part of the conversation, so I don’t know the precise nature of the landlord’s crimes. But I did hear the additional proof Rhonda offered that her landlord is an asshole: “He seems rich. He’s always well dressed. You know, he seems like he might be gay. And he drives a BMW.”

Rhonda’s panties were totally in a wad over the BMW: she mentioned it twice.

This shocked me. I know that BMW drivers have, shall we say, a reputation. Heck, I even mentioned it on this very blog a couple weeks ago. But Rhonda wasn’t trying to be funny. Should BMW owners be branded as sociopaths, even when not on the open road? Does this car impugn the driver’s character?

Well, Rhonda thinks so. And in fact, I don’t want to debate the question: the more interesting point is that Rhonda has settled on her answer. Not only is BMW ownership a bad thing, but we know what other activities lead to the same circle of Hell in Rhonda’s view: wealth, snappy style, and homosexuality.

Obviously, Rhonda’s preconceptions about the moral qualities of BMW owners aren’t the real problem.

But I didn’t call her on any of it. If I tried to lecture her about BMW drivers without mentioning her other prejudices, I’d be implicitly supporting those prejudices. But I’m not so keen to pick a fight about this stuff with some random chick at my office. (Which, I admit, is not a particularly brave stance.) So I kept quiet and cranked up the hurdy-gurdy.