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Patty Fisher Column About Priuses Does Disservice

Original post made by Prius Owner on Feb 20, 2007

Patty Fisher, San Jose Mercury News columnist, recently wrote a piece entitled "Priuses lack the cachet they had at first."
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She refers to Prius owners as "smug" and concludes that the "thrill is gone" in owning a Prius because now so many people have them. As Patty puts it, Prius owners are no longer part of "an exclusive enviro club." Patty paints a cynical portrait of competition between those who own Priuses and those who don't. This kind of thinking is a real disservice to the kind of serious consideration we should all be giving to global warming concerns (not to mention national security issues arising from over-dependence on foreign oil) and what we as individuals can do to make a difference. Patty ignores the fact that owning a Prius might be a good thing for lots of reasons other than social status or carpool lane privileges. Prius owners aren't interested in blaming Patty if "Capitola falls into the sea," as she claims. They're interested in doing something to help prevent Capitola falling into the sea. This isn't a blame game Prius owners want to play, this is serious stuff, and deserves journalistic respect, rather than cheap accusations. If more Priuses are on the road, this should give everyone hope, not disappointment or reason to gloat. And in shopping for new cars, there are still plenty of incentives to buy a Prius. Just think of what saving all those gallons of gas can do for our pocketbooks, our health, our environment, our national security. Patty does a disservice to her reading public, and to the good name of journalism, by engaging in such a superficial look at what might drive a Prius owner to own a Prius. I'd like to see her re-consider her approach to this issue and think more substantively about what is at stake.

Comments (20)

Posted by Hummers'R'Us :->, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 20, 2007 at 2:20 pm

Sounds like a South Park episode...


Posted by Non prius owner, a resident of Meadow Park
on Feb 20, 2007 at 2:47 pm

So, Prius Owner, Patty Fisher should alter her opinion to accomodate your beliefs?


Posted by Chris, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 20, 2007 at 4:31 pm

Prius Owner,

You've got to lighten up a little. So you have a Prius: it's just a car! Even if it gets more mileage than your neighbor's Honda (or Mercedes), you're still putting a couple of hundred times as much global warming C02 into the air than the third world denizen who will be most at risk as the earth warms.

If you can't take a little clumsy satire by a newspaper columnist about your possessions, you take yourself way too seriously.


Posted by Hulkamania, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 20, 2007 at 5:27 pm

The Prius is a gas hawg and fouls the air. I used 3 oz. of chain oil on my bike last year.


Posted by Freewheeling, a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 20, 2007 at 9:14 pm

Hulkamania: I agree. Prius owners seem obsessed with maximizing their gas mileage, to the point of not using turn signals or headlights. My bike is still WAAAAY greener than their car, no matter how much they try to squeeze out of it. And, for the price of a Prius I could practically buy new bikes and give them away when they get dirty.


Posted by joyce, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 20, 2007 at 11:31 pm

Sometimes newspaper writers have to write something to earn their paycheck, so they just blather out some thought that has crossed their mind, regardless of whether it makes any sense.

You will be happier if you take the media less seriously. It hasn't been worth paying attention to for the last decade or so.

Walter Cronkite, where are you when we need you.


Posted by Patty Fisher, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 21, 2007 at 2:11 pm

Well, I figured that column would touch a nerve with some Prius owners, but I never expected it to provide fodder for Town Square. For the record, some of my best friends drive Priuses. And if you want to join the debate about the column, go to www.mercurynews.com and click on "columnists."


Posted by Juliet, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 21, 2007 at 6:08 pm

Patty Fisher says >For the record, some of my best friends drive Priuses.

Apparently she doesn't know the origins of this saying or that it is now only used ironically. And she thinks she can tell people (not invite them, tell them) where to write about a public column. Sad to say, this is not an impressive performance.


Posted by Jill, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 22, 2007 at 9:57 am

I own a Prius and don't feel any sort of disappointment that there are more of them on the road. The more the merrier! If other owners are like I am, we love our cars. It's not about being "unique." I'm happy to see more people choose hybrids of all makes and models.


Posted by John L, a resident of Professorville
on Feb 22, 2007 at 11:22 am

I'm not sure I've read a more cynical and small-minded column than the Mercury column by Fisher. I doubt any Prius owner thinks they are saving the world by owning one, but I can assure you that when I next buy a car it will be a hybrid. Why NOT buy a car that gets the highest possible gas mileage if it serves your needs? Fisher's column reads as if someone told her to write something that would piss people off, no matter how juvenile or nonsensical it might be. This is part of what I can't stand about the Mercury. Why not celebrate the fact that so many people are choosing hybrids?


Posted by Chris, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 22, 2007 at 1:17 pm

John L,

"Celebrate" the kind of car you drive? I think you're also close to taking yourself way too seriously - like Prius Owner who started this thread. I drive a Porsche and really like it...but I don't think I'd ask anyone to "celebrate" it. The best thing about living in America is we have a lot of choices when it comes to what to drive, what to eat, what to wear and where to live, etc. The fact that we have choices is something worth celebrating...but I find it difficult to get into the self-congratulatory mindset of some who think their choices are so superior that we should all celebrate them too.


Posted by Hummers'R'Us, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 22, 2007 at 1:57 pm

Why not celebrate the fact that so many people are choosing hybrids?

I guess South Park was spot on when they chose San Francisco as the area with most "smug".


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 22, 2007 at 2:25 pm

I would love to have a Steamer or a Stirling, but that's just the engineer in me. I like the Prius, would like it better if it was a plug-in Prius and would drool if it was a high speed diesel generator/plug in. I am a firm believer in free choice in selecting cars and mates.


Posted by John L, a resident of Professorville
on Feb 22, 2007 at 4:03 pm

I don't believe anyone is arguing that there shouldn't be freedom of choice in buying cars. My point is that Fisher's column basically put down people who opt to buy the Toyota Prius. We wouldn't think of putting someone down for walking or biking to work. So why put down people who look for ways to reduce gasoline consumption?


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 22, 2007 at 9:12 pm

I agree, J.L. I gave up on the Murky Turkey a long time ago. It broke my heart when the McClatchy chain didn't keep the building and fumigate the red termites.


Posted by Hummers'R'Us, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 23, 2007 at 8:36 am

My point is that Fisher's column basically put down people who opt to buy the Toyota Prius

No, her column calls out the smugness of Prius owners who feel "oh so superior" because they bought a specific sort of car.

Your responses are actually showing that she was spot-on with her column!


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 23, 2007 at 12:04 pm

Calling someone smug is not a putdown?


Posted by Non prius owner, a resident of Meadow Park
on Feb 23, 2007 at 12:33 pm

It is Palo Alto were any criticism is considered a personal attack on that person.
the City Council needs to codify this so that residents are aware of the genteel nature of PA.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 23, 2007 at 5:02 pm

Remember, everybody in Palo Alto is above average.


Posted by Another mother here, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 12, 2007 at 3:36 am

So maybe Fisher doesn't like Toyota, period. Toyota has surpassed the American market in importing their cars and making money off of us Americans with different gizmos and gagets for eons now. (Talk about smug!) I heard that Japan will not let Americans import American cars into their country..anyone know that as fact?..Besides, Americans would find it hard to compete with the pricing, we know that the labor pay is quite different...
Prius were hard to get in the beginning,(supply and demand).. the local rental car company here in Palo Alto even sold back their Prius cars they were renting out as the demand was so great for the gas saving gimmic cars.......Yes, we all know the big boys that supply all the oil and gas could not survive and live as laviously as they have done for the last so many, many years if most of the public switched to electric cars, solar cars, other means of transportation that does not use their products.......But the probability of that happening anytime soon is still so far off in the future, even though Detroit automakers have the knowledge to do so.. too bad for all of us who suffer from all the pollution, we are just having to buy what they allow us to buy if we decide to purchase an auto of ANY type.
I support Fisher in her right to free speech, free thoughts....thank god we still have that in our world...whether or not we walk, drive, run...smug or not.


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