Sea Change

 

Birmingham Fire Hose

In refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks unwittingly ignited a revolution in how the United States treated African Americans. It was a pretty simple act of defiance as things go, but by staying seated, Parks ripped the scab off long-simmering tensions between blacks and whites in the U.S.

In the decade that followed President Lyndon Johnson signed into law what was arguably the most radical and sweeping civil rights legislation since the Nineteenth Amendment—which gave women the right to vote—was ratified in 1920. African Americans were given the right to vote, protected from discrimination based on their skin color or national heritage and protected from discrimination in housing. What gave the civil rights movement its power was a societal epiphany, a collective dawning of consciousness about the inherent wrong of discriminating against anyone for their skin color. For reasons that we may never fully understand, sufficient numbers of Americans made their voice heard, a voice that said in effect, ‘This doesn’t work; we’re not going to accept this anymore.’

Of course, the road to equal rights wasn’t smooth or easy. There were murders, boycotts, riots, more murders and deployments of the National Guard to keep the status quo when the cops couldn’t or wouldn’t do it themselves.

I offer that as a backdrop to the recurring themes of today’s news. A majority of the American people have concluded they’re okay with gay marriage. What they’re not okay with anymore are priests and school teachers sexually abusing minors. They’re not okay with the Boy Scouts discriminating against gays. And they don’t seem to be okay assault weapons on the streets. The public not only wants change, they see it as necessary.

In our collective rejection of this old status quo I see a parallel to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s. We aren’t willing to turn a blind eye to these crimes. My sense is that we’re approaching another societal epiphany, a large-scale sea change, one that will define us as a society that rejects discrimination of any form. Naturally, I hope that this movement isn’t marked by the violence that threatened to overshadow all the progress we were making.

So what’s this got to do with cycling? That’s easy: I see cycling confronting the same issues. I now think Travis Tygart’s pursuit of Armstrong affair is the precipitating event to wake cycling fans from their complacency about the problem of doping, much the way Parks’ defiance was the precipitating event in sparking the civil rights movement. I’ll admit, it took me a long time to see the case in this light, but there can be no doubt that the public at large is now aware of just how deeply ingrained doping has been in the sport.

Most of the cycling public ignored nearly all of the accusations against Armstrong and instead chose to believe the fairytale until the release of USADA’s Reasoned Decision. Through that I hear echoes of white America’s tacit approval of segregation. Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen are little different from the Southern politicians and police chiefs who resisted the new laws, insisting they weren’t going to change how things had been done for generations. Indeed, considering how McQuaid and Verbruggen denounced both Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton once they decided to unburden their consciences by confessing the details of their doping, they are no better than Bull Connor, the Birmingham public safety commissioner who directed the fire and police departments to turn fire hoses and attack dogs on peaceful demonstrators during the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s demonstration in the spring of 1963. Connor, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, became the public face of Southern bigotry, the quintessential example of the old guard that was standing in the way of the equality we all now take for granted.

If it seems like a stretch to compare segregation with doping, consider that there was a time when seemingly reasonable people saw nothing wrong with separate facilities for blacks and whites—it was the law of the land thanks to the Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson. Similarly, there was a time when taking performance-enhancing drugs just to get through a bike race wasn’t the least bit scandalous. Times change.

Could it be that the new generation of riders are analogous to what my generation was to the acceptance of African Americans as equals in school and on the playground? I think so. In their outspoken denunciation of doping, Taylor Phinney, Tejay Van Garderen and Mark Cavendish are a lot like the whites who linked arms with blacks and staged protests  in the South. It may also be that riders like Levi Leipheimer and Thomas Dekker aren’t terribly different from Southerners who went with the flow until they recognized the tide had turned.

In shutting down the investigation by their independent commission, McQuaid and the UCI have proven to all but those with the most reptilian of brains that learning the full scope of doping in the sport has never been their primary interest. They lack the vision, the institutional spine and sufficient love for the sport to show real courage by allowing the commission to do the job they were charged with. After being booed by the crowd assembled at the recent Cyclocross World Championships, it seems impossible that McQuaid could somehow be unclear on the will of the people, yet he persists with the obstinate bearing of a smoker who won’t give up his cigarettes even after learning he has lung cancer. In that regard we can draw yet another comparison, this time to Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus. It was Faubus who called out the National Guard to prevent nine black students from attending Little Rock Central High School. You can’t help but wonder what he was thinking as he tried to prevent school integration.

It would be obscene to suggest that the issues cycling faces are as serious as the fundamental issues of equality that the United States wrestled with 50 years ago. But because sport is aspirational, a place in which we invest our loftiest dreams, the drama unfolding as a result of doping has held many of us in a disproportionate crisis. Sport is supposed to be a realm free of the clutches of corruption.

Democracy has a way of pushing aside tyrants in favor of more reasonable forms of engaging the citizenry. History remembers Faubus and Connor as villains who stood in the way of equality for all Americans, men who clung to outdated ideas and refused to change with the times. McQuaid and Verbruggen have denied any wrongdoing during their tenures, instead pointing crooked fingers at the riders, the teams and even the fans. They are our Faubus and Connor. History will show them no quarter.

So what might we expect from the future? It’s not unreasonable to conclude the UCI will be freed of the misguided leadership of McQuaid and Verbruggen following their next election. Of course, that is no more likely to put an end to doping than the civil rights movement put an end to the Ku Klux Klan. The difference is that the Ku Klux Klan wasn’t a fringe organization in the first half of the 20th Century, while today it is far outside of the mainstream of social thought. Likewise, drug use was a once widespread practice, but the day is coming when athletes will see doping for what it really is—

the most basic of lies.

 

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50 comments

  1. Michael Levine

    I’m sorry, I usually really enjoy the writing here but the connection, the segue from civil right’s to the doping problem is quite slim and inappropriate. The only similarity I see is the possibility of change. What heinous things that certain people have done to others out of their cowardice, hatred and racism, has little or nothing to do with the greed and lack of integrity of selfish athletes. Making this analogy is similar to the off-hand way in which people use the word Nazi when referring to anyone who is stern or nasty. Some athletes have ripped off their fellows and fans, but it is no way similar to 100’s of years of systemized suppression and murder.

  2. Peter lin

    The comparison doesn’t work for me. If we look at the history of professional sports there have been numerous instances where cheating and corruption tainted the sport. Just look at how prevalent PED are in football, baseball, track & field and boxing. That doesn’t take LA off the hook. Mr Tygart isn’t a rosa parks, not by a long stretch.

    Being a minority, you can’t compare standing up to PED to standing up to racism. That’s like comparing calling a person a name versus killing someone. The sad thing is, I honestly doubt things will change that much. If the sport is really going to be clean, then all past dopers have to confess and UCI needs new leadership.

    I’m probably being too cynical, but crucifying 1 rider won’t fix the problem.

  3. Andrew

    As someone who writes a lot, all I can say is that we all have these interesting ideas that don’t translate well on paper. No guts no glory or something like that.

  4. Patrick O'Brien

    I read the piece twice, as it deserved. A first quick read lead me to agree that comparing the two events is a real stretch, almost insulting. I read it again carefully and saw that the Padraig states repeatedly that the two events are miles apart in their importance, but that similar mind sets, rationale, and denial exist in cycling as did in racism. One thing is for sure, Tygart is no Rosa Parks, but the bomb he unleashed in cycling is spreading fast, and other sports are following since the sources, distribution networks, and facilitators of illegal drugs and doping practices are getting a look from outside the sporting world. The snowball just started rolling. When all the names, in all sports, of users come out, you will see a dramatic damage control in professional, including the olympics, sports. It has begun in Australia.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-02-07/australia-reacts-to-doping-report/4507228?WT.svl=news0

  5. Tom in albany

    See the title? Sea Change. That IS what this is.

    As noted, no one’s going to be brutalized by their law enforcement officials.

    I like where Padraig went with it, even if the events aren’t really comparable.

    It’s the money, though, that’s the problem and always will be.

    Follow the money.

    There will always be a struggle but, the fight is honorable.

  6. Andrew

    The scene: Los Angeles, CA.

    The sun rises over yet another perfect Southern California morning- seagulls whirl overhead, keening in the morning light, while pretty girls jog along the beach drive, and rail thin cyclists gather for an ascent of the distant hills, faintly visible through the morning haze. Elsewhere, however, a sinister scene unfolds.

    From street level, few would guess at the secrets held within the fabulous walls and grounds of the St Simeon-like headquarters of Red Kite Prayer. Through the massive gates, down an apparently innocuous behedged lane, we come to a curious steel door, notable only for its “Keep Out” warning. The door opens and an ancient stone staircase can be seen descending, far, far below the warm, jasmine scented air of the grounds. Suddenly, a faint moaning sound, a whispered “no, no more…” reaches our ears, coming from deep within the sepulchral gloom of the entryway.

    We descend down, down, each step thudding and echoing in time to the faint drips of water falling on each moss covered stone. And then- we see it, through the torch smoke shrouded air- a frail, pale analogy, stretched horribly on the terrible rack…

    : )

  7. Wsquared

    Padraig, I’m old enough to remember a lot the Civil Rights battle as it happened. You’re stretching an analogy well past the breaking point here.

    In an essay, claiming you’re not drawing a one-to-one comparison doesn’t let you off the hook for going ahead and doing it anyway. Back in English composition, I occasionally wrote sophomoric, hyperbolic essays that my fevered imagination thought were so profound that they were fundamentally reshaping our understanding of Shakespeare or the underpinnings of life as we know it. My teacher, the revered sensei Mr. Ogden, would simply scrawl “BIG THINK!” across the page in red pencil and, if I was lucky, give me an undeserved “C” for really trying hard. It was deflating, but that experience has saved my ass many times over the years when reviewing the fruits of my labors. Sometimes, it’s better to just toss it and go back to the drawing board. This article is “BIG THINK.”

  8. Radiator Zeke

    Nothing going on today is like the old civil rights movement. Gays in the Boy Scouts? Who cares. Hein and Pat compared to a violent KKK leader? Insane. There is a change going on with cycling with the passport, with Armstrong, with Travis Tygart. But the sport isn’t anywhere close to being clean. I’m tired of this “new generation” crap. They still dope. It’s like after the Festina deal we were told everything changed – remember the 99 Tour of Renewal. Is this years running going to be Tour of Renewal 2? Also, the reason the public accepted denials from Lance was becasue guys like Wilcockson coverd up the doping. We have plenty of cycling writers that can write all these poetic-type rants, but we don’t have any (in the US) that can give us real news within the peloton.

  9. owl

    “An interesting idea that doesn’t translate we’ll to paper.” This is one that should have stayed an idea, and not a very interesting one at that.

  10. Jake

    In defense of Padraig:

    Nobody’s claiming that cycling’s struggle with doping compares to the civil rights struggle when it comes to the magnitude of the injustices. We all know that Tygart is neither Parks nor King, and the UCI is not the Klan.

    Padraig is clearly comparing massive shifts in public attitude [moving the Overton Window, to be jargony about it]. I think that’s fair. We should be able to apply the lessons of the past even when the present doesn’t measure up in terms of moral seriousness.

    You know the phrase, “Banality of Evil”? It refers to the role of ordinary people in doing great harm. Think of all the people involved in small ways in cycling’s doping problem. Maybe they carried a package. Maybe they didn’t write a story. Maybe they just believed the unbelievable. The phrase comes from Hannah Arendt’s writing on the holocaust. I think it applies and I’m not thereby comparing doping to the holocaust or Bicycling magazine to Adolph Eichmann.

  11. Patrick O'Brien

    Andrew, that was good.

    Padraig, keep trying and keep writing. You have people thinking and talking. Isn’t that the goal?

    Wait until this whole mess blows up; it won’t be long. I think the TdF will lose big money this year because no one “believes in the miracle” anymore.

  12. Mark S

    I really think you don’t understand what is going on with the Boy Scouts, it is not about discriminating but about protecting innocent children from harm. I just ask you honestly would you be happy sending your precious son on a weekend camping trip with questionable leaders looking after him? The Boy Scouts just lost something important under the powerful force of Political Correctness.

    Lets stick to cycling……

  13. Keith

    Padraig, way wrong on this one. Civil rights are something fundamental to human existance. Sports are something that we can all be passionate about. Cheating in sports is upsetting and disheartening but not even remotely close to a human rights violation. I appreciate the attempted analogy but a closer one would have been more poignant. Sports after all are just recreation. Mr McQuaid will get his just dessert in due course just as an out of touch CEO or politician almost always do.

  14. Jon

    Andrew, you made me laugh out loud. Classic.

    Padraig, not that you need my words of encouragement, but keep taking chances and push your writing. Whether stretched thin or not I am not grasping the outrage at the article.

  15. Steve-O

    Andrew, I admire your restraint for it is far greater than my own. To wit: The implication that because someone is gay, they are more likely to be of “questionable” moral character with young kids is evidence that ignorance and prejudice are still alive and well in ‘Merica.

    The parallels that Padraig makes with regard to turning a blind eye to injustice is a reasonable one (ATMO). It is an uncomfortable idea that the manner in which we (each of us and all of us collectively) engage with the issue of doping in cycling may also serve as social commentary… Heavy stuff, and not something we might find n any other cycling venue. Thanks for taking the risk Padraig.

  16. Chris

    I was thoroughly intrigued by this one…until you told us what it had to do with cycling. I believe Michael Levine and Andrew have summed up my feelings about this article better than I could, so I’ll just refer you once more to their responses.

  17. owl

    Mark S. – I can’t let that one go without a response. First, I attained the rank of Eagle Scout in 1979 and had a wonderful experience as a Boy Scout. If you believe deep in your heart of hearts that homosexuality is a sin before God then there is nothing I can say or show to you that will change that belief. However, if you’re linking homosexuality with being a questionable leader who is a threat to molest our precious sons you’re flat wrong.

    There is a mountain of research that shows otherwise. In fact, the research produced 20-30 years ago was so strong in showing NO link between being gay and molesting young boys at a higher rate than heterosexual men that not much has been done since. I will attach one link out of many that goes into detail about this issue. http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_molestation.html

    Would you prefer a troop leader driving the bus on that weekend camping trip to be a heterosexual man with a DUI conviction over a clean driving gay man? I mean, if we’re going to go down that road of safety for the boys I know what my choice would be.

    Using your logic of having leaders who will pose the least threat of molesting young Boy Scouts, and “protect innocent children from harm” all troops should immediately be turned over to lesbians. The number of lesbians who molest boys is infinitesimally small. Would that make you feel better?

    I am not going to proclaim you ignorant and prejudiced. Some have deeply held beliefs that don’t agree with my own and that’s fine – you just don’t get to talk with my kids. However, when those beliefs become manifested in actions that discriminate and do harm it’s not fine and you need to be called out on it. Plus, I feel it’s more than a little disingenuous to make statements like you did and then sign off with “let’s stick to cycling”.

    Mr Brady – I still don’t agree with the premise of your essay, but it has surely opened up an interesting line of commentary.

  18. Rod

    “I’ll be voting for equal marriage for a very simple reason: I don’t think that the person you love should determine the rights you have”

    Ed Miliband, Labour Party leader. UK.

    I do think that gay rights are a big item right now, and for sure parallel, if in smaller scale if nothing but in population percentage, than the 60’s civil rights movement.

    Unto the cycling analogy – I think this is a big stretch for sure. Maybe try a parallel with other fraudsters that are charismatic/tolerated? I still like that it makes one think, but the stakes are so different that my mind rejects it.

  19. Randall

    To say that the scale of things should preclude comparison is, to me, faulty. The feeling of happiness I get when I go to a bakery in Paris is exactly the same as when I get a new (expensive) bike part. Even though the expense can be a hundred or thousand times greater, the parallel exists.

    For my kids, I don’t wish for them to categorize all evils in the world, then draw a line below which the world’s “smaller evils” should be tolerated and tacitly accepted. All things should be compared when they mirror each other in concept. In this case, I’d concede that a stretch was made, but it seems to be for purpose of making a valid conceptual comparison rather than to construe one.

    Also, as a person born after the civil rights movement “went down,” I found it a powerful reminder of just how recently our society transitioned to the acceptance level it now has. Maybe there’s hope for Cycling, the Boy Scouts, and Humanity after all.

    Chapeau, Padraig

  20. cormw

    First the article – I will admit it was a bit of a stretch, but I appreciate the view that was shared because I would never have gone there. Another reason this is my favorite blog, you never know what you will get when you click on the link. Keep up the good work, Padriag!

    Secondly – OWL I agree with your view on the Boy Scouts. As was previously stated, our country still harbors a lot of predjudice and ignorance.

  21. Debbie in Alamo Heights

    “…one that will define us as a society that rejects discrimination of any form.”

    Discrimination is what defines us. The civil right to freely associate walks hand in hand with the right not to associate. If I don’t want to hang out with skinny people in lycra, It’s not a crime or something I should feel bad about.

  22. George

    Good article!!! Looking at the other comments it seems that people are correctly questioning the enormous difference between cycling and something as important as the civil rights movement.

    What is however the same, and one can easily draw the parallels, is in the human behaviour of the players involved. I think this behaviour, as so nicely outlined, is what the important take away message should be. We as people need to show strength in effecting change. Whether that strength helps change a nation, change a sport we love, or even helps take down any corrupt corporation.

    Thanks Padraig!

  23. ervgopwr

    Lots of discussion which certainly is a good thing for traffic on the site, but I, like others must first take issue with the Civil Rights movement-to-cycling-doping analogy.

    First: expand your view of the Rosa Parks incident. It was not “unwittingly” it was meticulously planned (she a secretary for the Montgomery NAACP) and part of a larger movement using the bussing as a proving grounds, like lunch counter sit ins, to demonstrate the illegality of seperate facilities.

    Second, it did not “rip the scab”; again it was part of the larger civil rights non-violent movement that was years in the making. The mythology surrounding the Parks incident actually does much harm in that the sacrafices and strategy requried to take down discrimination is seen as a solitary act of civil disobediance.

    The rest of the story falls apart after that.

    So my advice is to stick to relevant metaphors. Bikes are good. Flats are bad. Armstrong is like a piece of glass stuck in your tire, you think you cleared it, but it punctures you again…etc.

    Signed, an (aethiest) Eagle Scout from a secular Troop, that knows that all discrimination is wrong, and history is more complex than Ms. Parks and Dr. King…

  24. Rod

    Debbie in Alamo Heights says:
    February 8, 2013 at 8:46 am

    “…one that will define us as a society that rejects discrimination of any form.”

    Discrimination is what defines us. The civil right to freely associate walks hand in hand with the right not to associate. If I don’t want to hang out with skinny people in lycra, It’s not a crime or something I should feel bad about.

    You’re absolutely right, Debbie. I don’t like boy bands fans, Honey Boo-Boo watchers, or thug fashion followers. Or bigots, for that matter. I don’t associate with them willingly. But it doesn’t matter – no one is forcing anyone to like them.

    The point here is that all those individuals, plus redheads, gun-owners, gun control activists, left-handed people, multi-racial families, Mennonites, Buddhists etc. all should have, under the law, the same right as the rest of the law-abiding citizens including family and workplace rights.

  25. The_D

    Andrew, et al. I didn’t read this as analogizing the scandal of doping to the evil of racism. The analogy is in average people changing what they think is the worldly, natural or sophisticated view of things.

    After the civil rights movement and Brown, the median citizen long ago reached the tipping point in rejecting the cynical nostrum that “people will always want to be around their own kind” (meaning race). Probably, this same 50%er believes that people now make individual, i.e. not racial, assessments about their friends and neighbors. People who hold the modern view now are considered normal, even though they would have been thought of as naive or sheltered a generation or more ago. Conversely, someone who gets upset at “miscegenation,” an actual concern of average people 50 years ago, is regarded as a poorly socialized freak.

    We are kind of in the middle of the culture war still, but gay rights appears to be following this same model in which the average person no longer thinks it’s just professors and movie stars who regard a gay person as just another person to be evaluated on grounds other than sexual preference. Someone’s “smear the queer” response is no longer considered normal or natural, but rather a sign of some likely deep-set psychological injury. But that’s a recent development, not one that’s always existed.

    Similarly, the median pro male cyclist may have reached the tipping point at which he rejects the cynical idea that no one wins the big race without secret sauce of some kind. This same pro 50%er (of .001% of all athletes, mind you) might believe that he can win clean on account of his gifts and training because others are clean. Do we consider such a racer naive or realistic? Do we consider today’s doper as a product of his time or a freakish cheating dinosaur?

    Padraig’s thesis is something like that at some point, we reject the seeming inevitability of the wrongheaded view. We all are (or should be) reasonably familiar with the history of the US civil rights struggle. Appealing to this shared knowledge, Padraig’s making an analogy between the tipping points in rejecting segregation vs accepting gays vs. rejecting drug cheating in sports. Jake mentioned moving the Overton Window. Exactly the point. I saw zero analogizing of the underlying wrongs.

    Good stuff.

  26. Michael Levine

    To whom it may apply: no amount of fancy verbiage or rationalization of any kind will remove the hurt inflicted upon a person of color, a gay person , or any person of any religion, by those who are racist or intolerant of others different than them selves. If an insensitivity and exclusion is practiced, if a hurtful slight is inflicted on an entire group of humans by an entire group of other humans, than it should be stopped and amends be made. When inflicting pain on others can be avoided, then it should be. Anyone who has ever been the victim of racial or other abuse, and who has fought to end those same abuses, will certainly understand. The writer of the blog did not commit any horror, he just made a weak and inappropriate analogy. I repeat: If offending can be avoided, than it should be. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Directly, and indirectly.

  27. Steve

    Patrick,

    I am a little disappointed with this article.

    In the first instance, the link between the civil rights struggle and the fight to clean up pro cycling is a little weak and somewhat offensive. I’ll grant your passion as a cyclist; but as much as I hate to admit it, there are greater human causes than our own.

    In the second instance, redefining a human state and institution is not the same as achieving equality for all. This falls into an error of category in thinking that marriage is personal wish-fulfillment with infinite plasticity, rather than a stable social state that is more fundamental to humanity than family, kin, clan and tribe. It is a common error propagated by Jane Austin novels and ‘marriage equality’ sloganeering, but marriage is more than two people ‘in love’ who want to live happily ever after. Therefore I do not support changing the definition of marriage to include two people of the same sex. Our society is still experiencing the fallout from the comparatively minor changes to marriage nearly half a century ago (to allow easier access to divorce) and the ones who a most disadvantaged by this fallout are arguably single women and children (who certainly do not live happily ever after). We should learn from history and not rush in to redefining marriage despite good intentions of equality when the premise of the change is a fallacy.

    And above all, there is enough politicised writing on the internet. RKP attracted me because of its promise to be good writing about cycling. My advice is to stick to what you promised. If you want to support a political cause, there are many other places to express yourself in words, but if you are writing for cyclists then I ask you to respect the difference of opinion about political matters among your readers.

    Kind Regards,
    Steve

  28. Michael Levine

    Steve…you said, “Therefore I do not support changing the definition of marriage to include two people of the same sex.” and “I ask you to respect the difference of opinion about political matters among your readers.”
    But you want to voice YOUR opinion about others ideas of marriage and family. Your post has ample contradictions.
    Tell me how YOUR post promotes freedom of opinion….and at the same time telling the blog writer to only talk about cycling matters . Do want others to tell YOU how to live? Talk about politicizing! Give me a break. Sorry, no pass.

  29. High Plains Drifter

    Powerful stuff. Keep it up.

    Ya know … it’s easy to say, that comparison doesn’t work. Duh … No comparison is perfect. Otherwise, they’d be the same thing and not two different things being compared.

    Here’s my takeaway. The key is the title, Sea Change. Meaning, there was one way of looking at the situation before Event X, and a different paradigm after.

    One can nitpick the particulars of the comparison all day long. But tell me we’re not at a distinct before-and-after moment.

    I keep coming back to this one observation. For much of the last decade, pro bike racing fans were largely either pro-Lance or anti-Lance. But now most everyone realizes that either mentality is short sighted. By definition, any cultural movement — and I humbly submit that is what bike racing is — will always be more than just one dude, no matter how significant that person is.

    Cheers!

  30. High Plains Drifter

    Steve @ 3:50

    Just FYI, your definition of traditional marriage has only been the norm for around 1% of recorded human history, and has been the norm in less than 10% of the typified global cultures. Kind of makes it you who’s doing the redefining, doesn’t it?

    If you don’t want to dive into the hardcore scholarly research on this, let me recommend a quickie article by David Quammen on monogamy among Canadian geese. Find The Flight of the Iguana. Geese and wolves have both practiced life-long heterosexual monogamy significantly longer than we hairless apes.

  31. JPumm

    As a Christian I try hard not to judge others, it is not up to me. However as a Christian I should have the right to have my own belief’s without discrimination. It is a sad state in this country we now live in. If you are a Christian in this country you are called a bigot if you don’t tow the party line. Let each other live how they want it will all work itself out in the end.

  32. JPumm

    Andrew, I guess Gandhi didn’t know all Christians. Christ teaches to love all people because they were made in his image. Love you man!

  33. ervgopwr

    JPumm, nope, can’t just live how we want to live. This is society and there are rules and they are continually advancing (sometimes very slowly) toward more equitable and just treatment of all peoples.

    I am/was made only in the image of my biological parents. No magic man (or woman) in the sky has any influence.

    And finally, props to High Plains Drifter for his take down of Steve’s non-support for same sex marrage.

    Steve would prefer to go back to the golden era when women were property sold off by their fathers or maybe traded for a cow.

    Bikes.

  34. Duke Marmont

    Glad you found time to include the Catholic Church in your screed. Why do you think so many of the priests’ victims were boys. If there are mountains of evidence that there is NO link to homosexuality and minor abuse, then think of why boys were abused 90% of the time. Remember that most of the abuse was found during a time after gays were recruited into the Catholic seminaries. Seminaries were majority gay (if you don’t believe me just ask a priest, he’ll know what it was like.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Everyone: While I enjoy the varied opinions expressed here, I think it’s time I remind everyone that the comments section is a space where people are meant to respond to the post at hand. This is not a space for broader statements about religion, marriage or homosexuality that have no bearing on the post itself. I don’t want to cut off comments.

  35. owl

    No offense, my dear scribe, but the fuse was lit and it looks like you’re standing there with a match in your hand, and I think that’s a good thing.

    As much as I’d love to be able to compartmentalize and say this is my cycling life, and this is my personal life, and this is my work life, and this is my religious life, and this is my political life, and this is my social life – well, you get the picture – the fact is, it’s all those pieces that add up to what’s called my life. Each part affects and influences all the others.

    Personally, I think it’s one of the most illuminating strings of comments I’ve ever read on RKP. It proves that we cyclists are not a homogeneous group that thinks and acts the same. You can’t make a statement of any kind and throw a blanket over all the cyclists and expect them to respond in a similar fashion. So, by that same line of reasoning it also proves that while a sea change may be starting (I’m still not convinced), we will have as many different ways to implement it as we have thoughts from Mark S, Andrew, JPumm, High Plains Drifter, Duke Marmont, Debbie, et al.

    Next time I get asked a political or religious question I plan on responding “while I mostly ride a steel road bike, I kinda been checking out those new carbon 27.5 mtn rigs.” Whaddya think?

    Thanks again Padraig for the site.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Owl: I’ve enjoyed the diverse responses in regard to this post, and I hope others have as well. I stepped in with the reminder because we’ve worked really hard to establish standards for our comments section, which I’m proud to say people tell us is nearly as valuable as the posts themselves. Maintaining those standards means making little reminders here and there in order to be consistent about how we engage conversation.

  36. Jesus from Cancun

    Wow, that was intense. I enjoyed the read, and I am overwhelmed by many of the comments.

    How was that again? “If we are all to be friends forever, let’s not talk about politics, religion, or Lance”?

    Very interesting debate. Much of it off-topic, not what you would expect in a cycling website, but wonderful food for thought.

    Thank you, Padraig and all.

  37. gmknobl

    I’ve blithely skipped the comments and gone right to the bottom. My feeling is that I don’t know if this is a sea change yet. Certainly the two subjects are not equivalent but both go to a moral core with conservatives on one side and liberals on another. Bear with me on this. Conservatives are defined as wanting either the status quo or to go back to an old one. Liberals want positive (they believe) change to some new status. Often times, conservatives cannot see their own prejudices because they view things threw what they feel is a consistent philosophical viewpoint that coats over any unfair attitudes. Liberals are accused of having a reverse prejudice of sorts and not seeing what their own changes will actually result in; in other words, they don’t actually understand what will happen if their actions are taken. I think we’re in a similar circumstance here.

    How I view the situation with cycling or anything is which side tries to do the right thing and acts in a consistent open manner and which side acts in any way dishonest, usually without acknowledging it or seeks to cover up, to obfuscate. Viewed this way, and looking back historically, you can see this works with civil rights often (but not always, as those who are prejudice often state so openly, even if they base their views on falsehoods), and certainly works with cycling. I cannot see any other outcome other than the current group running cycling lies, confuses and is generally dishonest while upstarts like Asheden and the Change Cycling Now group are attempting to act openly and honest. We may not be at a sea change yet but who is in the right in the long run and who is not is pretty clear.

  38. Michael Levine

    All very interesting and of great value. This whole series of posts, including ,and sparked by the original article, reminds me of what I love about cycling. We ride, we talk, we communicate, we bond, we disagree , and we all contribute to each other, face to face, wheel to wheel. “BEHIND the wheel” we travel too fast and are too isolated by the metal shell to make a worthwhile and appreciable connection. Hopefully, we can continue to relate amicably, passionately, and respectfully about subjects that are important to us. I know for myself that the venue of riding has afforded a lifetime opportunity for me to learn who I am and who others are , while learning to do so honestly and maturely…even through the heavy breathing of a pace line. Ride on, write on.

  39. leonard

    i am an african-american, an attorney, and an avid cyclist.

    what i CAN tell you is that these two incidents (despite any over-reaching similarities) have absolutely no place in the same article. the scale, significance, and history of the two is, in no way, analgous.

    one is sport/entertainment. the other is a matter of utmost gravitas that affected the civil and human rights of a whole race of people.

    will the next RKP article be concerning the holocast and operacion puerto?

  40. Velo

    Assault weapons on the streets? What assault weapons are on the streets besides SUV’s? You seem to be confusing the U.S. with Latin America (where civilian ownership of firearms is illegal.)

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