Brisbane: He Died with a Metal Storm Slug in His Head – Personal commentary from a Queensland cyclist
It seems to have become a favourite sport for journalists to stir up the anti-cycling underbelly in our society. The favoured method seems to be that of writing some sort of personal account of their own raging encounter with an ‘annoying cyclist’. The rage and hatred is often cloaked in what the author claims is humor.
A good example of this occurred in October when columnist John Birmingham (author of ‘He Died With a Falafel in His Hand’) wrote in his column in online publication, Brisbane Times, another one of these nasty cyclists-get-up-my-nose articles using the same old formula.
In this article Mr Birmingham expresses a wish that he had a ‘Metal Storm’ weapon fitted to his car to deal with this particular cyclist. Following the publication of this anti-cyclist tirade there followed a barrage of reader comments.
Many of these were virulently reinforcing the anti-cyclist message and there seemed to be virtually no moderation of any of these posts. Responses ranged from one reader advocating re-aligning the car’s windscreen washers to direct a jet of water at the cyclist as they passed, to another reader suggesting that what was needed was a video game designed so that the object was to ‘take out errant cyclists’.
Others suggested, blasting them with their loud exhaust, installing rotating knives on their wheel hubs, and a sling-shot with marbles. One writer declares he/she would like to see ceramic slugs hurtling through cyclists and the vitriol goes on with another reader lamenting that if you crash into a cyclist while you are speeding early in the morning and blurry from lack of sleep that you may be charged with dangerous driving or manslaughter.
Sadly just a matter of days after this article was published, yet another cyclist was run down and killed by a hit and run driver in Bundaberg, Queensland. There is no suggestion that the driver responsible was necessarily one of the readers who responded to the article, but its fair to say that when such anti-cyclist vitriol is espoused by a popular author and columnist and accompanied by a string of nasty comments by his readers, then this can only encourage the lack of respect for the rights of cyclists that leads to idiot behaviour toward these cyclists.
In this tragic case in Bundaberg, Police were asking for any information they could get to help solve this crime. By the time of writing this article the Police could well have the cyclist’s killer, but have they rounded up all of the killers ‘accomplices’? That is how I view these journalists and bloggers who are out there promoting the view that cyclists are scum and its ok to abuse and hate them.
Just like some of the ‘shock jocks’ who were charged with inciting a crime after the Cronulla riots, I believe that what these anti-cyclist journalists are doing is no less a crime and they should face similar consequences and be stopped from committing such vile acts.
With this in mind, I felt it was necessary to point out to the Police investigating this killing in Bundaberg what had been published just prior to the incident so that perhaps they may better understand the mentality and possible motivation of this killer, but more importantly to better understand this widespread ‘killing club’ culture that is being cultivated by our media.
I would encourage others to make such submissions to Police if they believe an article or comments published are inciting hatred, harm or death to cyclists regardless of whether there is any underlying sense of humor in the article. The death of a cyclist is not humorous.
Kim Laurie (Queensland cyclist)
Here is a copy of my submission to Crime-Stoppers
I am writing you in relation to the reported hit and run murder/killing of a woman cyclist in Bundaberg last night. I don’t have any specific information to help you about the person responsible, but I would like to point out that coincidently or not, there was an article published on the Brisbane Times news site just a few days before, in which the columnist wrote a very anti-cyclist article which served only to incite a lot of anti-cycling sentiment.
The author of the article talked about wishing he had some form of weapon installed on his car to deal with cyclists that hold him up in traffic. Now while these articles are always defended as being ‘humor’ it was very evident from the reader feedback comments that it had indeed incited a large number of anti-cyclist readers who spoke of killing cyclists and other hatred.
Just as it was seen necessary to bring charges of inciting riot against some of the radio ‘shock jocks’ in the aftermath of the Cronulla riots, I think something needs to be done to bring these journalists into line and to remind them that their comments can have grave consequences.
There was a notorious anti-cycling article in the Daily Telegraph in Sydney where Anita Quigley suggested swerving at the cyclists with her car. This had legal consequences and there was a cyclist death that followed under those same circumstances.
Now I am sure that given the evidence that was described regarding this hit and run that you will get the person responsible, but I do think that you need to look at the root cause of why people believe that it is ok to kill a cyclist and just drive off and I think part of that root cause is this conditioning reinforced by the shock jocks and other journalists that cyclists on the road are just pests.
I think it would go a long way to stopping this happening if somebody could give Brisbane Times a call and tell them you are investigating a possible link to the incitement of this crime. Perhaps even track down some of the particularly inciteful reader responses by their IP address and let them know that they are under ‘investigation’ as no stone is left unturned.
Queensland seems to be having a shocking number of hit and run deaths and injuries involving cyclists in recent times and I think we need to do more to prevent them occurring.