- How smart language helped end Seattle’s paralyzing bikelash | PeopleForBikes (PDF)
- How to Fix Victim-Blaming Media Coverage of Car-and-Bike Crashes | Bicycling (PDF)
Whenever I read articles concerning how to ‘reframe‘ an account of something involving a collision between a bicyclist and a motorist or even better between a bicyclist and a pedestrian I am reminded just how touchy cyclists really are about speech directed at them, but seldom about their speech directed at others.
What we are really up to here is trying to keep our ‘brand‘ intact. But when you find that a cyclist rode through a red light and then managed to get clobbered it is kind of hard to cover up the fact with vague words.
It is almost as if someone is asking me as the speech writer for Donald Trump to lose the invective and say nice things about the guys and gal standing at the front of the arena where we are trying to square off what happens to be a ‘job interview‘.
That kind of approach is what recently cost the president of a university his job. We do not like (as a culture) ambivalence. We are more often interested in hearing a ‘spade called a spade‘.
Besides some stories are just not open to rewriting to somehow tone it down:
- Tyshawn’s Dad Told Police Looking For Boy’s Killer To ‘F— Off’: Sources – Auburn Gresham – DNAinfo.com Chicago (PDF)
To prove the point all one has to do is visit a bicycling forum and listen to the denizens there describe the actions of their fellow citizens who happen to be driving automobiles. You get stuff like this:
To the arrogant ass who while driving a white 4WD piece of shit, made a right turn on red at the intersection where I was walking and cleared the crosswalk (illegally) with an annoying blare of his horn, I hope when you die you are sent to that mythical place called Hades and while there you roast slowly and painfully throughout eternity.
Actually the original was quite a bit more civil, but the sentiment was no doubt the same as I have tried to convey here. When assholes on bicycles or on foot or in cars misbehave I am all for ‘calling them out‘.
- Poor Bike Handling Skills Are Symptomatic Of A Much Larger Problem (BeezodogsPlace)
- Making ‘Shit’ Up As We Go… (BeezodogsPlace)
Ours is a bareknuckled brawling style of speech in America. We like to ‘tell it like it is‘. We are not dwelling in Buckingham Palace dining with the Queen on tea and crumpets. Even our music uses invectives like ‘nigger‘ to convey that we are talking about another fellow who may or may not be black but is ‘our equal‘. He is a ‘homie‘.
And even our television uses the word ‘bitch‘ as if it were a form of ‘hey you‘. In fact the authors of all these dumbass articles on reframing probably haven’t missed an episode of Empire since its inception. So please cut the bullshit.
Cyclists Like To Denigrate Too
We don’t talk about ‘being in a box‘ to say something pleasant about riding in an automobile. In fact our favorite word for motorists is ‘cagers‘. It’s a cute way of shielding the double-meaning of the term.
We hate the word ‘accident‘ because we truly have come to believe that motorists don’t give a shit about our well-being and drive drunk, text while driving and other stupid things that are unlike having your airbag go off while driving and losing control of the car and hitting someone else.
I get the fact that doing batshit stupid stuff while being in a car is hardly forgivable. But then the same holds true when a cyclists or a pedestrian acts like a crazy person and ends up dying for no good reason at all.
- ‘Stupid Bike Driving’ Goes Clear To The Bone… (BeezodogsPlace)
In fact my person experience behind the wheel with cyclists of late has shown me that cyclists care very little for their personal safety despite all the rhetoric to the contrary. You simply do not execute a Idaho Stop Two-Step in the dark at busy intersections.
You settle your fucking ass into waiting until the light changes so as not to cause some poor schlub in a car the grief of having to help you commit suicide.
Should We Clean Up Our Speech?
It won’t matter until we have reality television shows removed from our airwaves. It won’t matter so long as talk shows appear with people jumping up and pulling one another’s hair while ripping off their clothing.
We have found this stuff entertaining and now we have to live with it. Our kids are killing one another and we are stunned but frankly we are the ones to blame.
This is our country and we are the ones to blame for how it has turned out. We spend as the bicycling community more money on weed and alcohol than we do on bike maintenance. And for the reason our bike shops are failing financially even as we claim that our ridership is booming.
So the bottom line is that ‘candyass‘ reporting is not gonna make a fucking bit of difference. Cyclists are gonna still use their bike locks to destroy the mirrors of automobiles they have managed to stop during a Critical Mass Ride. And yes people are gonna catch this shit on video and we are gonna have to try and explain it away or as is usually the case we simply ignore the fact that it even happened.
After all you cannot sugarcoat the obviously insane approach of a madman hiding behind a protest ride. Even talking about his actions brings ridicule on a movement which tries to convey the idea that the sun shines out of its rectum, when in fact the opposite is true.