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May 07, 2005

Closed minded: Moi?

Letter written to Mr. Scott McLarty, Media Co-ordinator of the Green Party, on May 7th, 2005:

Dear Scott,

Well, at least you ARE talking to me.... that's something. :-D

I hope you will read this, admittedly lengthy, reply, and even pass it along to those you say you passed my last e-mail to. :-D

While I understand, and can apreciate, the number of responses you get to Press Releases, here you are getting a response from someone with a keen interest in the recreational/commuting activity that the "Movement" your Party has expressed support for is using to forward various agendas, not some reporter from CNN, or FOX, with no Dog in this Hunt.

Whle MY audience is, admittedly, miniscule, compared to the above, it IS an audience with a keen interest in Bicycling, and Bicycling related issues.

I would think that such an audience deserves some attention, and respect.

RE: Lots of responses.

I have no doubt you do.

But how many of them have been critical of  the Green Party support of Critical Mass? :-D

RE: What's Clear and not Clear.

What's not so clear to me is whether you took the time to read my writings on Critical Mass to see why I'm against it, and what else I may have written on the issue of covering it, before you judge me.

What's clear is that YOU have made up YOUR mind that I, or others, even more knowledgeable on the subject, are not worth engaging on the issues, and that "further debate" is to be avoided if there is a chance your side might come out looking the worse for wear.

Dialogue is always to be preferred because, through that comes understanding, if not always agreement.

While there ARE times when dialogue is no longer viable this subject ain't one of them.

In dealing with CM I have been disappointed that supporters have not responded in voiciferous, and frequent, defense.

All I get are comments from people with experiences, and opinions, similar to my own.

Just the other night this was posted:

"This is my big problem with CM. I support the rights of bicyclists to peacably assemble. When I attended CM in Philadelphia, there were all sorts of folks pushing causes that I don't necessarily agree with. What does "Free Mumia Abdul Jamal" have to do with cycling and taking back the streets for everyone? This is why anti-war protests are almost invisible. The sort of mainstream middle-of-the road folks who are against the war want to talk about ending an unpopular war, not be associated with the dozens of pile-on causes who want to use the media spotlight as their stage."

This person is obviously to my left, somewhat, politically. :-D

RE: The Kind of Messages

Don't insult me.

You want to disagree with my stance, fine.

You want to ignore me, and not let your Party bosses know of my opinions, fine.

You want to not address the issues I, and others, raise, fine.

But...

When you think of those who disagree with you in the way your letter implies, then it is YOU who are exhibiting Closed Mindedness, and not those you disagree with.

I have tried to engage you, and your leaders, in a discussion, in a non-threatening way, going so far as to INVITE you to defend CM from the reports,, and views, that I have shared on my Blog.

YOU have apparently decided to look at me as some sort of oddity with out of the mainstream views ( Hey, look at the weird e-mail I got the other day, heh, heh. This guy just doesn't understand the issues. It's so sad... ).

I sincerely hope you have made it this far because I want to make a few things clear:

2 years ago, before I decided to keep links to CM on my blog I wrote the following:

"The people active in this movement have a lot of points to make about the value of Bicycling, the rights of Cyclists to the road, and many other related issues, but riding around town disrupting traffic and breaking traffic rules by not riding in a safe manner, risking injury in traffic, and confrontation with, and arrest by, police is not the way to get these messages across in a way that helps the cause of Bicycling."

And that's just the "true" BICYCLISTS, and not those who have latched on to the movement to promote other, Leftist, causes.

If the Bicyclists were smart they would disassociate themselves from the rabble, but too many of them share similar views, apparently, or else they would not share the road with these people.

My basic opinion of CM hasn't changed much since I wrote this at the same time:

1. "Because CRITICAL MASS is so heavily invested in claiming it is a leaderless activity it is very easy for those who lead it to avoid identifying themselves, and answering for their actions.

CRITICAL MASS risks being lumped in with those Anarchists who disrupt Economic Summits & are now hijacking the Peace Protests against the War on Iraq.

All sensible Cylists should avoid CRITICAL MASS."

2. "My problem has much to do with the Ultra-Liberals, Far-Leftists, Environmentalist Wackos, and Anarchists behind the scenes of the Critical Mass Movement, who often have an agenda not neccessarily in keeping with the best interests of Bicycling, and Bicyclists."

The events, and methods of protest, these groups use are often dangerous to cyclists, and motorists, and many folks who attend these events find themselves in situations they didn't bargain for."

3. "Motorists, and others in the general public, witness these events, and come away with negative impressions of Bicycling Advocates, and bicyclists in general.

The Media reports these events as if they were important and newsworthy, when they are not, and in the cases where a protest turns ugly, and arrests result, the media coverage hurts legitimate cycling advocacy efforts.

Is it any wonder some folks hate cyclists, and believe, misguidedly, that we don't belong on the road with them and their Cars?"

Last Fall I made a decision based on e-mails I received from people prominent in the CM Movement who suggested I find a way to read up more on Critical Mass, and proceed with my reporting on the movement from there.

I agreed, and wrote the following on my blog:

"While my experience with CM, and a few other CM events I've read about, and reported on, have given me, and the general public, a negative impression, I HAVE read of, and been advised of, a few positive CM related stories.

CM is not a movement without leaders, and organization.

While there may not be a single National, or World Leadership, there are folks, at the local level, in cities all across America, and the world, promoting CM in their communities, and doing some good things for Cycling as well.

I'm not averse to publicizing those groups, and stories, or adding a collection of CM related links to this site.

CM is used to being reported on by the mainstream media, used to being reported on by those who don't ride bikes and so, very slowly, I'll begin to join those few others in the mainstream cycling world who DO report on CM.

As I become more informed readers of this site will also."

In that piece I linked to a positive story.

In that piece I linked to, and wrote about, a piece, on the Worldwide CM Hub concerning "Police vs. CM".

In that piece I shared an e-mail from Michael, of the Hub, that shed some light on how those in the movement see themselves, and posted my response.

Someone read all this, and thought I was fooled into support.

I wrote a response concerning my thoughts on covering CM.

I basically feel that the CM Movement, and CM events, should not be allowed to operate in a vacuum, unknown, unreported on, uncriticized, and unexplained.

"The Left, and Liberalism, does not have a monopoly on support for legitimate Bicycling issues, and the promoting of safe Cycling as a form of recreation, and a legitimate commuting option.

It just seems that way."

On my site I have a link to, and have begun to write about, the bi-partisan Congressional Bicycle Caucus.

One aspect of this blog is keeping an eye on the Critical Mass Movement, and events.

"Making my fellow cyclists, and the general public, more aware of CM will bring it, and its movement, out of the shadows where the Leftist Propaganda hides among the positive messages about Bicycling.

I am not afraid to criticize, often with strong emotion, and very strong language.

I am also not afraid to publicize the good that those I disagree with occasionally may do. :-D"

My review on the TIME-UP WEBSITE was one such report.

As I wrote in response to a comment on that piece:

"The confusing thing about CM is the frequent mixing of the Political ( anti-war, anti- Bush, anti-America, etc... ) with the Bicycle Issues.

I am slowly learning that there ARE Critical Mass events where the Cycling Issues are the focus, but they don't get the attention that the Political Events do."

I added links to CM so I could keep an eye on it, and so my readers could freely, and at their leisure, explore the movement at their own pace, read the stories I link to in my pieces ( most of which are still readable ) and even choose to participate in CM if they wish.

I wrote: "I can't guarantee I'll change my opinion of CM, or just how much I will if I do, but, hop on your bike, and come along with me for the ride."

My life changed that summer: I have a new, better, job ( even had to join a Union! ), then I moved my blogs, and there were some other things to keep me away from following through with exploring the CM websites.

Now, I think I can begin that exploration.

One aspect of that has been, today, to add "critical mass" to my list of cycling related search terms that I get weekly Google Alerts on.

I invited TIME'S UP to send me a defense of CM that I could post, but they ignored me.

I have long had an open invitation for people to share their opinions on CM, and other cycling issues, for posting on my blog, but no-one has responded.

So, there you have it Scott...

I'm not the one-dimensional, closed minded, person you apparently think I am, and I hope you forward this e-mail to the same people you sent my last one.

Sincerely yours,

Kiril Kundurazieff

May 7, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink

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