The Reader’s Article

It was recently brought to my attention that the San Diego Reader, a local alternative paper has printed hate speech against cyclists as well as threatening, and in the message boards, planning of violence.

The article has been pulled from the web, but here’s a cached version. I encourage reading the whole thing, but I have taken out choice bits for comment:

Here are my feelings. The columnist is sitting and waiting for cyclists to go by:

“The light changed a few more times, and still…lots and lots of bicyclists.”

So he does the right thing, at first: “I asked a cop in his car why he wasn’t doing anything about it.”

He did realize that what the cyclists was doing was actually legal: “It looked more like they were escorting them, though.”

So they had a police escort. Just like a parade or a VIP. If important people were blocking the road, what would he do? He’d either turn around or he’d wait patiently.

What did our friend do?

“I took the gum out of my mouth and threw it at one rider. Then I picked a rock up off the ground and hit another.”

So he attacked them.

Why would he attack a group under police protection?

Because they are riding bicycles. Implicit in this is the assumption that bicyclists are beneath him. They must wait for him, they must get out of his way. He does not need to accomodate them in any way. NOT EVEN WHEN THE LAW IS ON THEIR SIDE. In fact, he still continues to believe that by riding bicycles, they are criminals. In fact, not only are they criminals, but he believes he can attack them with deadly force and “worry about the consequences later.”

“But I swear, next time I see a group like this, they better hope I’m not the first car. When the light turns green, I’m going. I’ll worry about the consequences later.”

So even though there is police protection, he still thinks that he has the law on his side. A law that only he knows about (this is not on the books). He so strongly believes in this higher law, a person in a car is so superior to a cyclist that they can kill them, he doesn’t even respect the police escort.

I’m glad he wrote this column because in doing so, he exposed a lot of hidden assumptions that people have about bicyclists. Before we change people’s minds, we have to realize how they think.

The next question is. Where did he get this idea? Who told him it was OK to attack people who were different?

I don’t know the answer to this question. Even when I owned and operated an automobile, I thought that it was horrible how people talked about cyclists and homeless from their automobiles. I would be embarrassed to express such selfish and hateful things.

Instead, it’s published in a column for all of us to see. And the San Diego Reader proudly put its title above the article. Until the legal department realized what a disaster the article could be.

I feel that they should apologize for the article, print a retraction, take a stand against violence against ALL groups, and fire the Crasher without compensation.

It’s one thing to write an angry column. It would have been OK to take a firm stand against Critical Mass. A few jokes would have been great; I love cycling humor.

But to write a column like this shows a complete lack of judgement that at this point, I don’t think can be learned at least not while on the job. This is a basic thing like brushing your teeth or leaving the house with clothes on that people should be expected to know before they take up journalism. If they have not learned it yet, there is something missing in their psyche.

Even to say it sounds like you are five, “You shouldn’t hurt other people.”

But I guess sometimes people do need to state the obvious.


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