Share this Post:

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Look Ma, I’m Elite!

    SIGN-UP for our latest news and action alerts:
   Please leave this field empty

Facebook Fans

Related Blog Entries

by Ted Zukoski:
Governor Reading From Polluter’s Script

The oil and gas industry in Colorado has a new script to disparage efforts to move towards a clean energy future. And one of their friends—Colo...

by Jessica Knoblauch:
Friday Finds: Flying High on Flame Retardants

Airplanes may contain high flame retardants levels New research has found that commercial airliners contain high levels of flame retardants, a suite ...

by Jessica Knoblauch:
Friday Finds: The Ocean’s Plastics Predicament

Tiny plastics clog the world’s oceans By now we all know about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—a giant mess of trash in the ocean—b...

Earthjustice on Twitter

View Brian Smith's blog posts
11 August 2008, 11:49 AM

Unearthed blog editor, wordsmith, and all around superdad Terry Winckler gave me a hard time this week for being an "elitist" urban bike commuter. We had a good laugh over the use of the word. It got me thinking. What does the term "elitist" really mean these days?

Has elitist become political shorthand for "someone not like us?" The thought of calling someone who doesn't drive a car an elitist initially struck me as a perversion of the word's meaning. The working class folks I share bike lanes with each morning hardly feel "elite," more like Average Joes schlepping ourselves to work.

So let's check the dictionary.

Merriam-Webster says:

Elitist (n) 1947
1: leadership or rule by an elite
2: the selectivity of the elite; especially : snobbery elitism in choosing new members
3: consciousness of being or belonging to an elite

I think the version Terry used was the second definition, snobbery. The fact that I don't own a car, don't pay car insurance, buy gas, or worry about parking is something I admit crowing about because it has made my life simpler and cheaper. I want to share the joy with my co-workers. This must get really annoying, like being around a fanatical vegetarian.

But perhaps there is an upside to this accusation?

Maybe soon the "elite" will be defined by what we cannot afford (car ownership) and by the things we choose to not consume. Perhaps making more ecological choices can help us reduce our carbon footprint, save some dough, and get us into an elite club all at the same time.

Here's a great book on living without a car and all the money you can save.

It will even teach you the secret handshake.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <p> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.