On your bike, cy­cling cranks...

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - COLUMNIST -

We’ve al­ways been a cranky sort of peo­ple, happy to play the poor mouth and claim vic­tim­hood when­ever some­thing doesn’t go our way.

There’s a rea­son for this, of course. Lobby groups and ad­vo­cates know that the best way to get at­ten­tion for their cause is to claim some de­gree of op­pres­sion, safe in the knowl­edge that we tra­di­tion­ally side with the un­der­dog and don’t like to see peo­ple be­ing per­se­cuted.

Peo­ple like... the Dublin Cy­cling Cam­paign, who have just been un­suc­cess­ful in their quest to make the Late Late apol­o­gise for an item in­volv­ing Maura Der­rane (above).

Der­rane is a fine per­son (I ad­mit a con­nec­tion, I’ve known her for a few years and she’s great), but dur­ing a Room 101-style item on the Late Late she sug­gested bin­ning cy­clists.

Now, lots of peo­ple have had is­sues with bad cy­clists in their time — in much the same way that we’ve all had is­sues with bad driv­ers, and bad pedes­tri­ans.

But the usual cy­cling ad­vo­cates were fu­ri­ous and made nu­mer­ous com­plaints be­cause they now seem to think they’re a per­se­cuted mi­nor­ity who need pro­tec­tion un­der the law from ‘hate speech’.

Ac­cord­ing to them, the item, “could be seen as in­cit­ing prej­u­dice or ha­tred to­ward peo­ple who cy­cle”.

Well, lots of things could be seen to spread ha­tred and prej­u­dice if you reach the stage where any crit­i­cism or, as in this case, a bit of slag­ging, is seen as hate­ful.

But when peo­ple, not just cy­clists, squawk about ‘hate speech’, what they re­ally mean is that it’s sim­ply speech they hate hear­ing.

Cy­cling ad­vo­cates have long been among the cranki­est sin­gle is­sue groups in the coun­try, which is odd, be­cause most of cy­clists I know couldn’t give a toss about them.

Some peo­ple are con­sid­er­ate cy­clists, and some aren’t. Some peo­ple are con­sid­er­ate, full stop, and some aren’t.

It’s not ‘de­hu­man­is­ing’ as some com­plain­ers claimed, to point out that some peo­ple are sim­ply ee­jits on the road.

If I wrote a piece about the nut­ter driv­ing the car that nearly ran me down on Harold’s Cross Bridge this week, I doubt Conor Faugh­nan from AA would be on to my ed­i­tor scream­ing that I’d ‘de­hu­man­ised’ mo­torists.

When peo­ple give out about bad cy­clists, they’re just giv­ing out about bad cy­clists, they’re not en­gaged in some pre-pogrom cam­paign of vil­i­fi­ca­tion de­signed to turn the pop­u­lace against our two-wheeled friends.

Most cy­clists are grand, they’re just get­ting from A to B. But this de­sire to ap­pro­pri­ate the lan­guage of the per­se­cuted is truly ris­i­ble.

What next?

First they came for the cy­clists and I said noth­ing?

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