Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Telegraph vs. Cyclists?

The cycling twittersphere is rather in a tizz about this article here, followed by the events described in this rather one-sided version here

To summarise - the Telegraph opinion piece didn't get past basic trollumnism. I can pretty much  (and cruelly) paraphrase the entire article with 'as a cyclist myself, with no reference to recorded accident cause statistics, I'd like to associate with negative, stereotype based generalisations about cyclist behaviour being the cause for their untimely but deserved deaths at the hands of more virtuous drivers - how DARE any of them use helmet cameras to record incidents where they're forced from the road and waste police time on those who intimidate them with their cars'.

There was, understandably, quite a bit of online response to this ugly, victim blaming, clumsy anger-piece. I've covered victim blame before, and little more needs to be said other than that Critchlow is both demonstrably wrong and indefensibly lazy in his portrayal of cyclists. His article will be interpreted by those who already hate us as an endorsement of mistreating cyclists on our roads, and I can't condone any part of it. It doesn't even make sense - does he think helmet camera riders have some sort of death wish, that they go looking for trouble to have some kind of confrontation to post online? Does he believe that cyclists seek to encourage motorists to use their vehicles as weapons against us? Its very hard to dismantle his article without feeling that his writing comes more from prejudice than rational, impartial observation. And he's not just a trollumnist, he's a cyclist himself. Two unremarkable kinds of cyclist hate rolled in to one unpleasant mess.

The Telegraph is rather robust, on occasion, with how it discusses cycling. Or, to put it another way, it occasionally revels in irrelevant, petulant cyclist hate, and while there are some decent articles this kind of pandering to moton-angst is the baseline to which the this rag tends to return, and this encourages precisely the kind of behaviour that cycle helmet cameras are worn to protect us from. Bluntly, the Telegraph encourages anti-cyclist hate with this kind of writing.

Considering how low these blows strike, its rather a surprise to me that John Stevensons comment was taken so to heart - especially as coverage of the incident in the Telegraph seeks so hard to stress how fearlessly their man has served his country and reported from war zones. I wouldn't condone Stevensons tweet - but come on Telegraph, sort your life out - can you not put more effort into resolving this and asking that the two gentlemen shake hands? You need to accept that this kind of article, inciting hate against any group, including cyclists, is flat out unacceptable, and that even people who ordinarily show impeccable judgement may not strike a good balance in responding to this kind of pathetic slur. You need to raise your standards above basic rabble rousing.

So, gents, on the remote chance either or both of you read this, can you call truce and settle this? Here, now. Accept that the article was misguided and offensive and that the response over the top. Both of you apologise and move on?

5 comments:

  1. Andrew Critchlow MUST die! (Its a biological imperative!)

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    Replies
    1. You're referring to the inevitability of human mortality? Yes, of course, we'll all die.

      I get why he's annoyed. But I don't think calling the police is a proportional response in light of his article.

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  2. Did you read the Guardian bike blogs dissection of the matter? They pointed out numerous times that "taken out and shot" has been used by Telegraph (and other) journalists without anyone feeling the need to call the police.

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    Replies
    1. Couldn't see that on the Guardian bike blog? But bez has a blog post on that:
      http://beyondthekerb.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/dont-shoot-the-messenger/

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    2. Cheers guys, yes, I did see that.

      Thing is, when a Telegraph journalist uses this phrase clearly its just banter. When its used AGAINST a Telegraph journalist its apparently a credible threat.

      To be honest, I think this whole malarkey ought to be settled with a hand shake.

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