In his July 18 column [“Page Two
”], Louis Black makes the classic grammar school mistake of assuming that free speech means saying anything you damn well please. Sorry, but this is not correct: It has long been established that shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre is not acceptable free speech, and Stephen Moser's comments [“After a Fashion
,” June 27] advocating running over bicyclists falls squarely into this category. The average soccer mom driving a minivan is in possession of a weapon far more deadly than anything I could possibly carry on a bicycle. They demonstrate this to us every year by killing or injuring more than 70,000 pedestrians (www.nhtsa.dot.gov/portal/nhtsa_static_file_downloader.jsp?file=/staticfiles/DOT/NHTSA/NCSA/Content/Reports/2008/810968.pdf
How many people died on 9/11? Motorists kill more than 10 times that many every single year – where's the outrage? A drunken driver in Arizona who ran over and killed a bicyclist laughs it all off and is told by her friends that "she should get a medal" (www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22818852
), while in Texas the aforementioned soccer moms are gleefully running over bicyclists on the flimsiest of pretexts: www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/07/02/0702cyclist.html
. Frequently, these incidents can't even remotely be called accidents: www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1216094102198390.xml&coll=7
Car-culture addicts like Black and Moser, perhaps driven to madness by high fuel prices, are looking for a scapegoat, and certainly bicyclists offer a ready and easily accessible outlet for their road rage. However understandable their anger might be, fomenting chaos and violence is not an example of free speech.