What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

16 August 2017


A car being used as a weapon is nothing new to active transportation advocates. We all have stories of drivers intentionally endangering our lives, and have read folks on the internet, many times over, call for us all to be run over. Something about driving brings out the absolute worst in so many people.

We saw the worst on Saturday. But it was hardly the first time.

Active transportation advocates, and people on the side of the Constitution, raised an outcry early this year when North Dakota introduced a bill that would have shielded drivers from prosecution if they hit protesters with their cars. Fortunately, sense prevailed in ND and the legislation was defeated. At least five other state legislators have tried it, with similar results. I hope the graphic, real-time video we've all seen, and the tragic result, stand as a lesson to those who would (unwittingly, one hopes) embolden and encourage anyone to think this behavior is okay.

(By the way, drivers who unintentionally strike humans with cars already have tons of protections under the law. Driving toward a crowd of humans, even very slowly in the hopes that they'll move out of your way, is not exercising "due care." That's the opposite of care.)

Are protests inconvenient and disruptive? Of course they are--that's the point! Might someone blocking the road make drivers have to wait? Yes, that's certainly possible. But we have processes in place for that, which of course take some time to carry out. However, even protesters with whom one disagrees have, at least in theory, the right to the same due process under law as everyone else does. (Many protests, of course, are over the very reality that due process under law is not as equal as it ought to be.)

"But if they're standing in the road, they deserve what happens to them!" No no no no no no no NO. That's not how this works. Protesters who act in civil disobedience understand that they'll be arrested and charged. People who drive cars understand that sometimes things happen that block traffic, also including:
  • Road construction
  • Natural disasters
  • Street-closure events
  • Bad weather
  • Infrastructure failures
  • Public officials making terrible choices
  • Thousands of people each driving home alone at the same time
  • And of course, car crashes.
If every one of these things causes your blood to boil and your chill to be lost, then maybe for the sake of your own mental health you should reconsider your transportation.

We don't have to look far to find stories of people during the Civil Rights Movement who would say they were in favor of civil rights for all but would also ask why lunch counters had to be blocked to get there. Protests are not convenient. It's the price we pay for living in a democracy. Why would anyone want the alternative?

My friends, if you're on the side of vehicular violence, if you feel that driving through a crowd of protesters is a quicker and easier way to get to "justice" than allowing due process of law to work its course, if you'd prefer that people with whom you disagree not be allowed the same rights of speech and assembly as everyone else, then we have come to a parting of the ways. By the way, in case anyone has forgotten: 1) Incitement to violence is not protected speech; and 2) Freedom of speech does not preclude others from forming their own opinion about, and desire for association with, the speaker by the nature of his/her speech.

I would not want anyone with these attitudes thinking they have my tacit agreement by association.


J E Oneil said...

Those bills are really scary because the only thing they could be used for is to give a pass to people who kill with their cars. How can they be so heartless?

Su said...

Well, they probably had to sell their souls to get elected in the first place, so maybe they threw in their hearts in the same deal.