Not Even Bobby Jindahl Could ‘Fix’ The ChainLink

Background Reading

Summary

The GOP has an image problem. Bobby Jindahl had the courage to tell them they were being the “Stupid” Party. Karl Rove agrees:

And while I am not a fan of either Rove or Jindahl it is certainly refreshing to see mindlessness on the Conservative side of the ledger get some pushback. But who does this for the Left? And by “Left” I am speaking not of party affiliation but instead the group that likes to show itself in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and in the forefront of lobbying for increased bicycle infrastructure in the Urban Cycling arena. At present I see no one on the horizon.

With the GOP you can tell that they have acute tone deafness where their rhetoric on things like immigration policy is concerned. They say things that sound so very xenophobic that you wince and yet they seemed befuddled when the Hispanic vote eluded their grasp in the last election.

The ChainLink has leadership which is mired in the warm and fuzziness of finding new ways to convert vinyl records to MP3 formats while allowing the likes of some of its more strident members to essentially go unchecked:

Reply by Juan 2-8 mi. on Wednesday

Winter Gear V2.0 © Juan

Winter Gear V2.0
© Juan

As a last resort when passing through the WEST SIDE. A blast from my airhorn usually frightens off those animals in this URBAN JUNGLE.

This particular comment was made in response to a thread on a robbery of a white female by a black youth at 5:30 AM on a Sunday while biking from home into work. The responses of some of the more responsible members (one of whom is the owner of the forum) were as follows:

Reply by Lisa Curcio 4.0 mi on Wednesday
Do you think it is the air horn or the get-up?

Reply by Julie Hochstadter on Wednesday
totally :))

What was desperately needed in this instance was some leadership from the supposed ‘leaders’. Instead it became a commentary on the outfit pictured in the photo. This is how the GOP gets itself into trouble. It does not respond forcefully when its membership’s responses go off the rails. It is only after having lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections that anyone realized that the “tone” of your comments is everything. Clearly the ChainLink crowd is clueless for the most part.

Reply by h’ 1.0 on Wednesday
I think I remember reading about this in one of the local papers. Young-ish kid who pretended to have a gun under his jacket?

Yet another comment about the clothing. But there is a glimmer of understanding yet to come:

Reply by h’ 1.0 on Wednesday
Neither– I seriously doubt Juan’s “primitives” are going to be frightened off by an air horn or anything else if they truly are intent on attacking him.

A tepid response but it at least acknowledges the bigotry in the original posting by Juan. This is something neither Lisa nor Julie even bothered to point out. It was as if someone had listened to a powerful speech by a female presidential candidate and then remarked that they thought her bangs were too long. That sort of response you could expect from men, but from women too? Yikes!

Reply by Jason yesterday
The whole city is block by block. That co-op right there is full of bad seeds, and there is a bunch of section 8 just south of it. Be careful around there people.

Reply by lauren eg – 5-7 mi yesterday
I do agree the city changes block-by-block and it’s good to know the nuances of your neighborhood.
As a person employed as a social worker, it may not be my job to police language on a bike-related forum, but since it’s so closely related to my actual job: may I *suggest* not implying that just because people live in subsidized housing that they are bad people? ’cause they aren’t, and I work with solid evidence indicating that every single day. Ain’t trying to troll; I just have feelings about these things. /soapbox
Anyway, Allison’s story inspired me to write a blog post earlier this week in which I talk not only about assault, but street harassment in general as a woman on a bike.
I’m going to be writing a follow up post to it and have been using suggestions here as help (nod to Eric Roach’s glove suggestion–srsly awesome!) and am really into women leaving comments about personal experiences and/or anyone’s suggestion of additional items used for self protection.
Thanks!

Lauren steps in to redeem the distaff side of the forum by making some adult comments which are reasoned and yet forceful.

Reply by Jason yesterday
I didn’t imply all people who live in subsidized housing are bad. However, crime in those areas are much higher and people need to be realistic about that for their safety.

Clearly Jason is “tone deaf” when it comes to the remarks he made. But that is common when you can say things in the midst of your peers and never get much “pushback”. That lack of pushback only seeks to reinforce your perception that your views are shared by your listeners. And that is why Nazism took hold in Germany and innocent lives were lost in Concentration Camps. If you can speak to a crowd as did Hitler and received cheers how else would you expect a despot to behave other than to carry out his Final Solution.

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi yesterday
Agreed, while there are probably plenty of very nice people who live in that Co-Op, there is definitely a problem set that hangs out on that block of Noble (and to a lesser extent Milwaukee and Division) next to it. Pointing out that a certain narrow poorly lit street more often than not has a problem group hanging around is useful information to help people stay safe, not an attack on a whole group of people. I lived in that neighborhood for three years, and that was one of the only places that didn’t feel safe to ride through.

At the corner of Bigotry and Tolerance

At the corner of Bigotry and Tolerance

Discussions of race are painful and one feels some sense of temerity when approaching such a volatile subject. But approach we must. We cannot allow bigotry to take root again in our country. Too many lives have been lost in that struggle.

Reply by DawnW 9 hours ago
So sorry this happened to you. Don’t be surprised if you have a little PTSD fear months from now. I was robbed on the L in 2001 and was afraid for a long time after. It takes time to recover; give yourself permission to take the time you need.
I commuted to downtown from Austin/Roosevelt on Roosevelt Road in Oak Park two or three times in broad daylight last year and was nervous the whole time. K-Town, Lawndale, those aren’t good areas. I know another Oak Parker woman who bikes to UIC every day on her own and I think she must have nerves of steel. Groups of people on street corners make me especially leery. I wouldn’t drive Roosevelt Road from Oak Park , so I must be crazy for biking on it, I was thinking to myself the entire time. I’m really out of shape and biking into the wind tires me out. I wouldn’t have been able to get away from someone if they went after me. I’m not giving up on the idea of being able to bike to work, but reading your story gives me pause.

Juan finally gets around to responding to h’s comments of a few days before:

Reply by Juan 2-8 mi. 8 hours ago
How would you know Howie, you only ride one mile and just when group rides form

I recognize this sort of “put down” as it resides in the same neighborhood as the “Your experience is not a valid one if you ride only in the suburbs. Only Urban Cyclists are ‘real’ cyclists.” This is the ChainLink equivalent of Tea Party rejoinder to Liberals “you folks on the Left are not ‘real’ Americans”.

Reply by h’ 1.0 7 hours ago
Untrue, sorry.
Would be nice to have a forum where people of various backgrounds would feel comfortable participating– any chance we can keep the racist crap off of it?

The conversation between h’ and Juan finally “comes off the rails”:

Reply by Juan 2-8 mi. 6 hours ago

Two-Headed Troll

Two-Headed Troll

You’ve got to be the most interesting troll the chainlink has…

The predictable “put down” so common on the ChainLink is the “you are a troll” verdict. It is synonymous with what a Conservative would have said of a Liberal back in the days of Joe McCarthy. Then all you had to do was call a fellow American either a Communist or a Communist Sympathizer and that would be enough to have the FBI scurrying to check on the accused’s persons backgound and acquaintances. It would seem that the tactic has morped into something equally inane.

I cannot tell from the use of the two-headed troll where Juan is accusing h’ of being deceitful. That is to say having an equally racist opinion in private conversation but turning sanctimonious in public. I do not know either individual personally.

What I do know is that this forum is full of examples of this kind of exchange. It is evidence that people whether they are Liberals or Conservatives run the risk as I said before of being “tone deaf” or to use the vernacular of Jindal the “Stupid Party“.

It is going to take more that organizing bar nights and bake sales to make this a place where everyone in the cycling community can feel welcomed. Right now it is seemingly a collection of whiners, bigots and social engineers who know best what America needs when it comes to bicycle infrastructure. I don’t know about anybody else but I reject that approach entirely.

Either we are having a discussion between cyclists, drivers and pedestrians or not. From my experience the conversation is decidedly “one way” where ChainLinkers are concerned. And theirs seems to be the only viewpoint that matters.