Four ways to oppose snowmobiles


Dear HCN,

Your excellent story on snowmobiles and West Yellowstone (HCN, 4/1/02: Move over!) demonstrates one among several points: After a new, destructive practice has gained a foothold in the local economy, it can be virtually impossible to control, much less dislodge. People who valued tranquility, clean water, kayaking, wildlife and traditional island values decided to ban Jet Skis in Washington's San Juan Islands before the area became a mecca for these loud, obnoxious water machines. It still required opposing and defeating legal action by the industry, but local government and people firmly supported the successful ban.

Four ways exist to oppose harmful behavior by others: (1) overpower them; (2) outvote them; (3) reason with them; (4) shame them.

Many world cultures have used the fourth tactic, but it won't work if people and society are shameless, or don't even know what the concept means. Nevertheless, it's worth a try in West Yellowstone. The minority offended by noise, smoke, speed and waste of fuel could sponsor billboards with the following messages, at the same testing the health of the First Amendment in Montana:

"Fight Obesity. Pump That Accelerator!"

"I Exercise Gripping a Steering Wheel."

"Get Active by Sitting on Your Butt. Rent a Snowmobile."

"Snowmobiles: the Strenuous Sport for Couch Potatoes."

"Don't Sneeze and Snivel * Sniff My Fumes."

Computers, cars, casinos, television, movies, Jet Skis, snowmobiles: SITTING has become our national posture, our favorite form of exercise. We might as well make the best of it.

Bob Keller
Bellingham, Washington

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