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and ask them to be more responsible in giving a platform to voices that treat the lives of others as a mere inconvenience

Gagging other people's voices always works great as long as you're the one doing the gagging.

Publication of incitement to harm, however "just joking," is not necessarily protected speech. It's why it's illegal to yell "fire" in a theater. There are limits to what responsible publications should publish. Of course, "responsible publications" are few these days as sensationalism and hate rule the media.

@ Fotos In a practice begun in the Pleistocene age of newspapering, letters and opinion columns were edited for space, grammar and style, but also to set a tone that might commonly include 'we don't use the pages our publication provides to advocate criminal acts or threaten others with bodily harm.' That's all I read Washcycle as saying.

She posted a rebuttal. Patch is AOL's first foray into the internet since most of it's original subscribers have free email now. They approached me at my place of business and tried to offer ad space for a "patch" that gets less web hits then my business site. I don't know this for a fact but I bet this whole bike thing with Justine Whelan has added many hits to their fledgling website. It looks like Patch has distanced itself from Justine but still love the attention. After reading Justine's first and second post I have come to the realization that as a person she is never going to "get it". Her problem was that she grouped a large number of people together for the actions and clothes of the few. I think WABA's response in the form of legislation was a little too much for what could be described as a long facebook post and gives too much attention to an otherwise dull person.

Christopher, do you think the Patch should publish everything that is submitted to them, or should they choose what to publish and what not to? Is that putting a gag on anyone.

Scott, this legislation is not in response to Whelan's post - their work on this bill predates Whelan's oped. They're using the oped as a springboard for discussion.

FYI, notice that Tim Kelley of BikeArlington and I both took the positive route in our comments to Justine's blog entry - we urged her to come ride a bike with us to see what it's like and why it's so fun.

I was hoping she'd see the value of it as a great follow-up story, you know, "Blogger Takes Bike Challenge." No luck.

Still, I think this might be the most effective way to deal with these negative comments and blogs. A positive, friendly response that gets these people on a bike, especially if the person writes about the experience, would do so much more than just bashing them back. Even if they don't take you up on it, the offer sure turns their anger on its head.

I did notice that. I thought that was a perfect response. The difference between a bike critic and a bike advocate is a one hour bike ride.

She rebutted herself, and in doing so, sort of showed that she probably shouldn't be handling a 2500-lb tin can.

"I rev my engine in hopes of scaring the sheets out of the offensive biker.

Then, in her rebuttal, I wouldn't even know how to rev the engine if I tried.

When I read that, I read into it as, "I don't know how to use all functions of the vehicle in which I sit and could kill a pedestrian/bicyclist/motorist/myself," even if it means using the negative functions. I also read into as, "I'm lying."

"The difference between a bike critic and a bike advocate is a one hour bike ride."

Love that. I'll have to use it next time.

Love the law from WABA. Despised the Patch column (hoorary--I guess--she picked me as one of her favorite responses). Some anti-cyclist bloggers get a bike ride invite from me if there's a glimmer of possible redemption. I didn't see a glimmer of anything in her.

For the record: has ANYONE actually been taken up on their offer to an anti-cyclist writer to go for a ride?

Brendan, you're probably right, but still, an offer to ride can make them stop and think about how silly they're being. It reminds them that this is not about bikes, it's about people riding bikes. And it makes it harder to hate someone who is nice to you.

It's like welcoming a religious bigot to a service of the religion he hates - it makes a point as well as exposing them to the truth. Even if they don't show up, maybe they'll think.

We'll see if it ever actually works.

I'm not a big fan of special purpose legislation that criminalizes activity that is already a crime, and I particularly don't like laws that start with the premise that our judicial system doesn't work, so the law needs to end-around established procedures.

That said, I think it's terrific that WABA is bringing attention to the fact that cyclists are routinely harassed and assaulted -- and for a lot of people that behavior is considered normal and even acceptable. Anyone who has ridden a bike for any length of time has his own horror stories of being assailed simply for his choice of transport. A hearing on this bill would be a great opportunity to vent.

I have to say I'm impressed with the creative ideas coming out of WABA lately.

She should be a little more careful, given that Virginia is an easy state to carry in

"a defendant must reasonably fear death or serious bodily harm to himself at the hands of his
victim. It is not essential to the right of self-defense that the danger should in fact exist. If it reasonably appears to a defendant that the danger exists, he has the right to defend
against it to the same extent, and under the same rules, as would obtain in case the danger is real."
McGhee v. Commonwealth, 219 Va. 560, 562, 248 S.E.2d 808, ___ (1978).

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