Hate Speech Against Cyclists?
Did ESPN's Tony Kornheiser forget to take his medication before a recent show? I don't know what happened, but he ended up spewing hate against Washington DC cyclists, telling his listeners and co-hosts that he could barely contain himself from "running them down" (said angrily and with a laugh). This attracted the attention of none other than über-cyclist Lance Armstrong. Keep reading for an audio version of the angry tirade and for Mr. Armstrong's response.
You can listen to what Tony Kornheiser said above (but I don't know how long it will be on Youtube -- ESPN will probably try to take it down).
Some choice quotes from the show:
"Last time I looked, the roads were made for automobiles."
Sadly, that's what many seem to believe... I guess Kornheiser didn't see US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood's announcement about the end of favoring motorized transportation (also check out his tabletop speech at the National Bike Summit).
"...how are they gonna get the bikes down there? They're gonna have to go through other streets. I think this is a terrible, terrible idea."
Oh the horror! Bikes on the streets of the city!
And the angry tirade:
"I swear to you, it's all you can do to not RUN THEM DOWN, like Wile E. Coyote, just run them over. *laugh* [...] Get the hell out of my way! Am I wrong in this?"
(someone should probably tell Tony that Wile E. Coyote isn't exactly successful at getting his target)
On the scale of physical threats, this is pretty close to "beat over the head with a lead pipe". A little too close to "I want to kill them"...
And then he goes on and on, ridiculing cyclists for their "little water bottles" and "stupid hats" (that guy really needs to grow the hell up), calling them "disgusting poseurs" and repeating his call to action to "run 'em down!".
Lance Armstrong Responds
Lance Armstrong, the Seven-time winner of the Tour de France and probably the best known cyclist in the world, tweeted about this (see above). At first EPSN tried to hide the evidence (see the tweet below about the audio archive being gone from the ESPN site), but someone uploaded it to Youtube before it could disappear down the memory hole.
Lance Armstrong tweeted:
This seemed to get a reaction from ESPN, because they invited Mr Armstrong to the show and Tony Kornheiser apologized (does he really mean it? Probably not, but if he wants to keep his job, he has to do the whole public self-flagellation now...).
Lance Armstrong also wrote:
A ghost bike or ghostcycle is a bicycle set up in a place where a cyclist has been hurt or killed by a motor vehicle, as a roadside memorial. Photo: Flickr, CC
Threats Against Cyclists Are No Jokes
I hope he loses his job. If he had said the same thing about any other identifiable group (running over old people with his car?), that's probably what would happen.
Cyclists already have enough to worry about, they don't need a media figure inciting motorists to hurt them.
We've written a lot about this in the past. What our society needs is a more pro-bike mindset, but what we're often getting is the opposite, and cyclists often seem to be less protected than other groups. For example, when a man gets 120 days in jail for shooting a cyclist in the head, something's not right. Or when a motorist sues a dead cyclist for damage to his Audi, or when a New York State senator threatens a cyclist that he almost hit with his car.
Update: Lance Armstrong just tweeted that he's about to go on the air with Tony Kornheiser.
Update 2: Lance seems satisfied by his chat with Tony K. He wrote: "Had a decent chat w/ Tony Kornheiser who I feel is genuinely sorry for his comments re: us cyclists. Thanks for all y'alls support."
Via Bike Rumor
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