Tire-Deflating Eco-Terrorists Could Face Unique Punishment

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A closeup of a tire is shown after criminals deflated the tires of a used SUV for sale.

Those searching for a used SUV for sale can rest easy after a band of scofflaws has been put behind bars for a spree of property crimes that spanned the country. The group, known as the Tyre Extinguishers, made a name for themselves by targeting SUVs, citing the vehicle’s environmental impact as justification for the offense. Now a judge is considering how to sentence the offenders and is putting some rather creative options on the table.

Founded in the UK earlier in the year, the decentralized group has since spread stateside with attacks in New York, Chicago, and the Bay Area. Conscious of the environmental impact of replacing a set of tires, the Tyre Extinguishers stopped short of actually slashing or puncturing their victims’ tires, opting instead to release the air using the built-in valves. The ultimate goal was to “inconvenience their owners” in the hopes that drivers would opt for smaller, more fuel-efficient modes of transportation, according to a statement put out by the group.

Prosecutors are holding out hope for a swift and ironic punishment for the suspects, which just happens to be the specialty of Judge Kevin Bisbee. The veteran judge made headlines early in his career for unorthodox punishments, including forcing a chronic speeder to drive a 1985 Yugo GV, a notoriously slow subcompact with a 0.9-liter engine that takes over 14 seconds to crawl from zero to 60 mph. More recently, Judge Bisbee sentenced a driver with an obnoxiously loud and illegal, modified exhaust to babysit a teething ten-month-old.

While the word is still out on the punishment for the convicted Tyre Extinguishers, Judge Bisbee did float one intriguing concept during the group’s last court appearance: forcing the Tyre Extinguishers to live like it’s 1875, one year before the invention of the modern internal combustion engine. “Some might say it’s excessive and even a little silly, but we’re just trying to keep the punishment in spirit with the crimes and turn back the clock just like they wanted,” said Bisbee.

While the judge indicated that he would make exceptions for vital lifesaving technology like pacemakers, CPAP machines, and penicillin, the suspects could lose access to all the conveniences of modern life. This includes expected technological wonders like televisions, smartphones, vapes, and digital watches, but also some essential items that were introduced after the 1875 cutoff.

The modern brassiere, for example, wasn’t invented until 1913, though that might be a bad example as the eco-warrior types attracted to the Tyre Extinguishers have been known to eschew supportive undergarments of all kinds. The same goes for electric toothbrushes, deodorant, and most personal care products, which they ignore in favor of more “natural” (read: smelly and ineffective) options.

“At first, I was cool with it, but then my girlfriend Rainbow reminded me that the punishment would include my vinyl collection, hacky sacks, frisbees, longboards, and certain recreation chemicals upon which I’ve become hopelessly dependant on,” said Bark Linkletter III, a Tyre Extinguisher and, incidentally, the heir to Dow Chemical fortune. “I’m hoping to get the case thrown out on the grounds of it not being very chill, but my lawyer is still searching for some sort of precedent.”

The Tyre Extinguishers are not an anomaly by any means: there have always been groups resistant to progress, especially during the Industrial Revolution. The Luddites were a secret organization of 19th Century English textile workers who sabotaged weaving equipment in protest over the increasing mechanical automation within the industry. Now used as a shorthand for all of those who shun modern technology, the Tyre Extinguishers represent a proud, if stupid, tradition throughout history.

The case has been polarizing for those in the automotive community and the public at large. Denison University Psychology professor Richard Cambert says there might actually be a simple scientific explanation for the criminal’s actions.

“While few studies have been conducted to establish a link between criminal behavior and an absence of proper hygiene, the evidence, in this case, is too overwhelming to ignore. None of the accused seem to have washed their hair in recent memory, and that level of contamination so close to the brain simply can’t be good for one’s cognitive function,” says Cambert.

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