An Open Letter to Laura Weintraub

An Open Letter to Laura Weintraub

You probably didn’t expect your 15 minutes of fame to go this way.

I can understand that maybe you didn’t think anyone would disagree with you, that you wouldn’t be called a porn star, that you wouldn’t lose your position as a volunteer police officer, that there was any chance at all you’d receive a death threat (or two).

Kinda sucks, doesn’t it?

Before I go any further, I should probably level with you. I’m one of those spandex-wearing cyclists you’d prefer dead. And while you probably think that I lack any semblance of manhood, any right to live, I do what I can to serve as a rational voice within our ranks. I’m often an iconoclastic devil’s advocate, sticking up for ideas not because they are popular, but because they make sense, are the right thing to do.

Right now, hundreds, if not thousands, of my readers around the world are screaming at their monitors, afraid that I’m about to extend you sympathy in your time of dejection. Yeah, well that’s not gonna happen.

Frankly, you had it coming.

Are death threats okay? Nope. Was having the Bike Snob call you a porn star a vote for diplomacy? Not exactly. Were the many other insulting and often vile names you were called accurate? Probably not. Was it understandable given your video? Absolutely.

laura weintraub

There are those among us who think that insults based on your hair color or the fact that you’re a woman should be off-limits. I’d agree had you engaged in something approaching enlightened discourse. However, because you trade on your looks people will go after you for them, and your gloves-off death threats and speculative delight for hitting cyclists disqualified you from any vestige of Internet etiquette.

Your screed (yeah, it’s still on teh Interwebs) proved you a bottom-feeder and if there’s any place where the rules are off, it’s the Internet. The mob rules (cue the Black Sabbath). Well, almost all the rules. If you noticed, no one went after you for being a (self-confessed) very bad Jew. Some things really are sacred.

Except for your regard for your fellow man.

That every member of the Santa Paula Police Department didn’t immediately and completely rebuke you for being a completely useless waste of life is troubling. But don’t worry. Even as I type this, I’m certain someone is organizing a boycott of all Santa Paula businesses. That’s how these things go. Restaurants across town will remember your name long after the rest of the cycling world has forgotten it.

Oh, and congratulations on issuing an apology that only further angered cyclists the world over. I know you think we’re stupid, but cyclists are, generally speaking, smarter than your average porn star, which, judging from your photos, may or may not include you. We’re clear that your video wasn’t satire and we don’t believe you’re sorry.

Look, I’m not insensitive to the fact that some cyclists ride like complete sacs de douche. I’ve been driving a car and witnessed people of my chosen tribe doing things that didn’t just embarrass me, they angered me.  However, your completely idiotic tirade against all people on bikes inspired a vitriolic response that was completely predictable given that you think deliberately hitting cyclists is okay.

My only advice going forward is to be careful at lights. Road rage is proving to go both ways. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone pulled you from your pickup and gave you a taste of what you fantasize about. Not that it’s okay, but the race to the bottom is never finished. You simply led the last lap. If we want to engage a more intelligent discourse about how cyclists share the road with cars, people like you need to shut the fuck up.

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56 comments

  1. Kurti_sc

    Probably 800 words too many in your letter. The last sentence will suffice. The rest give in to her need for attention. Bad people live everywhere. Thankfully I don’t live there and more thankfully I don’t know anyone like that. How embarrassing that would be. Ignorance is a tough cycle to break.

  2. Carlos

    Hi Padraig. Nice balanced letter, I suppose. A friend showed it to me. I was, unsurprisingly, angry. But not angry at what she said, which I thought was incredibly stupid, but angry that she probably represents a large proportion of the population here in SoCA. She was driving on Agoura Road. That could have been me, a respectable “MAMIL” that she passed. I had to check just in case as it is a road I take almost every day. It is so appalling that I am speechless to try to understand this. There is no apology necessary from her. Her actions (video?) will remain with me. Should I put the other cheek? Well, there are still many like her around, as also many “sacs de douche” as you politely stated. This should be a cri de coeur to all of us to be MUCH more polite and respecting of the road rules. Et voila. Je dit.

  3. khal spencer

    She looks like she would make a great porn star or hot affair at the precinct, as long as one is not looking for IQ as well as sexual release. Too bad she hates lycra, as I suppose a few readers might have an idea or two after seeing the picture that involve pleasure rather than violence.

    Meanwhile, you nailed it pretty well: the race to the bottom is never finished. Just because someone is in a county line sprint for the gutter doesn’t mean anyone else has to follow.

    The Internet makes it really easy to make a fool of one’s self. People need to maintain some sense of decorum. Just because you are thinking something, doesn’t mean you have to post it online. Laura, shut up and learn to be a good cop if its not too late.

  4. Rich Hirschinger

    Very well stated my friend. I refer to myself as the “Douchebag in the Camelbak” so you might remember me. But I love your phraseology, “sacs de douche.” Thanks for stating what you stated so eloquently. I also wrote a post that included “her” but did not mention “her” by name. Read it at ofp.dds.com/5year-1day

  5. MB

    “insults based on your hair color or the fact that you’re a woman…”

    Presumably if had she been a member of a visible minority, insults based on skin color would’ve been fair game too? Good letter but you’re wrong here RKP.

  6. Aaron

    She lives in the next town over from me and she is an entitled intellectual nothing…..yawn…her husband looks like a turd as well. Great letter

    Aaron from Woodland Hills CA


  7. Author
    Padraig

    MB: Bear in mind, I don’t think any of those insults were fair game. I said they were understandable; there’s a big difference. I don’t play in that cess pool of invective, but because she started the trolling, one has to understand it was going to continue.

    1. MB

      Thx for the reply. Understood that you don’t play in that cesspool, but I don’t think we can excuse those who do.

      I see the difference between “fair game” and “understandable”, but you disagree that the insults were “off-limits” because she neglected to engage in an enlightened discourse. If they aren’t off-limits, what are they?

      She’s being rebuked because she’s a moron, does that make it OK for those speaking on behalf of cyclists to be morons too? No. That shit is still off-limits, to everyone.

      Internet vigilantism sadly brings about at least as many new transgressions (racism, sexism, other bullshit) as it does valuable discourse, taking of responsibility, and changes of opinion.

      The backlash from her video was mostly warranted, but when it borders on harassment, sexism, etc (I would argue it went well beyond ‘bordering’), we have to ask ourselves what we are really achieving. In most cases, we are just making people hate cyclists more, which defeats the purpose. But alas, the cycle continues…

      Thanks again for the reply. This whole thing’s been fascinating.

  8. SimiCyclist

    Somehow after viewing her video a day or so after she posted it, I was expecting a backlash but what actually happened was breathtaking. I’m looking forward to her next video.

  9. Dana Carson

    Greetings from the Bologna, Italy airport lounge. This was a great response, even in my jet-lagged stuper I managed to find some laughs in all this. This lady is a waste of life, I actually feel bad for her. I hope that through this experience she can find some sense of humility.

    As always great work.

  10. Maremma Mark

    Lucky me, living where I do it’s possible to miss a lot of the crap that rises to the surface. I’m not even vaguely curious about this ignorant woman or what she espouses, as someone else said above, she represents a large portion of the So Ca drivers. Or drivers just about anywhere for that matter. I liked the suggestion by Anonymous that she be punished by being made to ride a bike through town all day. I might add, or being made to ride a bike exclusively all the time, no more car. I wonder, how long it would take her to change her out look on life?

  11. Timojhen

    Well put. Unfortunate that I believe this is merely the visible side of the iceberg. Outreach likely a constant effort… long pull on the ascent. Too much goodwill evaporates with one smug “See! That’s why I hate the bikes” episode of a red light run hastily.

  12. Tom in Albany

    So, I have the debates with a friend at work a couple of days a week, at least. Largely, they begin when he is frustrated by a cyclist on his morning commute.

    There are far too many of us that violate the rules. We run red lights. We run stop signs. We hog the middle of the road when the shoulder is actually fine. We ride in pairs when the roadway is too narrow to accommodate us AND traffic.

    I look at her stupid (yes stupid) video as her release. I don’t know her. But, my faith in humanity (some may tell me it is misplaced but, I beg to differ) tells me she was seeking attention and, possibly, venting a little too. I don’t know the SoCal bike scene but, I’d guess it has the usual percentages of scofflaws in the cars and on the roads. We’re going to see stupid shit like this until, as Padraig notes, “If we want to engage a more intelligent discourse about how cyclists share the road with cars…”

    Roads may indeed have originally been ‘improved’ to accommodate bicycles but, they’re as numerous and ‘high quality’ as they are thanks to the automobile. We have our rights but, so do they.

    As for this windbag, the sad part is that anyone pays attention to this. When my dog starts barking at me for attention, I ignore his ass and he shuts up.

  13. Bill Percival

    Hi Padraig.

    Thanks for getting this out there. I have had three friends, all of whom are experienced cyclists, hit during the past year due to driver aggression. Each driver was cited for “improper passing”. Two of the three cyclists are still going through rehab. One is almost a year into that process. My guess is many who read RKP have friends in the same situation.

    My sense is this attitude is growing among drivers. It seems like the response by police is implicitly reinforcing it. While it won’t stop me from riding, I no longer encourage friends to take up road cycling, and I won’t let any of my kids on a road bike. I feel the risks are too great. In their best interests, I can’t recommend the activity any longer as a great means of “staying healthy”.

  14. Rocket

    I am surprised you wrote this: “If we want to engage a more intelligent discourse about how cyclists share the road with cars, people like you need to shut the fuck up.”

    As cyclists we may all want to say that to Ms. Weintraub, but does tossing F-Bombs really do anyone any good?

  15. debra schwinn

    There have been too many good people on bikes killed by cars to excuse this woman’s video on any level whatsoever and the intensity of the backlash from our community is completely understandable. The fact that many responders chose to express themselves by resorting to sexual insults and slanders does nothing to support or further our cause. Did we have the right to be pissed? You bet! But how would you have responded if this was a video from a guy? Consider.

  16. Duncan Hall

    I’m not sure what’s more frightening: the fact that people with those views exist, or the fact that they are prepared to air them publicly and do so without expecting a reaction! I’m with Padraig concerning our ability to anger and frustrate people when we do dumb things – I’ve certainly seen a few mindblowers, especially on mass Sportives, where a couple of people were lucky not to get seriously hurt…

    In the UK we had the Cycling Profieciency Test which I took as a child of 10 years old (came top of my class, too!) and I can’t help but feel that a return to that sort of qualification would be a good thing. Also I think that we should consider insurance as road cyclists, partly against the lunatic fringe, and partly to put an end to some of the issues and compiaints from motorists: I’d pay £50/year if it meant my bike and health were safeguarded in the event of an accident. The next step would be to make it mandatory for any would-be motorist to hold a certificate of proficiency as a cyclist prior to being granted a provisional driving licence.

    Unfortunately however, you can’t legislate for stupidity…


  17. Author
    Padraig

    Tom in Albany: You’re absolutely right. We need to sweep our side of the street, as they say. I’m acutely aware of how any bad behavior by one cyclist gets attributed to “all you bicycle people.” But even as your typical neon roadie cleans up his act, there are the hipsters whose behavior is far more unpredictable, scofflaw-ish and enraging to the average driver, and I have no idea what to do about that.

    Bill Percival: We all have had way too many friends hit in the last year. This has been a bad one, no matter where you are. I’m relieved to hear the drivers were cited, even if it was minimal. I’ve read of instances where the driver wasn’t cited because “it was an accident.” Road safety does concern me, but I’m not willing to throw in the towel; I’ve just changed my behavior to be more careful.

    Rocket: I set that last statement up as a conditional to demonstrate on the front end that a reasoned discourse is not what we are currently engaged in and I dropped the F-bomb to underscore that point. It was very deliberate, but then you don’t tend to agree with me very often. That’s okay. I appreciate that you keep reading.

    Pat O’Brien: Right tool, right job.

    Debra Schwinn: Much of the point of my piece was to explain why her ill-considered rant made it okay for the cycling community’s response to jump the track out of acceptable discourse. Lots of very mean things have been said. But her lack of standards in her video gave everyone responding an okay to remove all standards. What most people don’t understand is that integrity is a matter of setting personal standards and abiding by them even when no one is looking. Put another way, sexist, misogynist insults aren’t cool, but once you threaten their lives, most folks will conclude they can call you anything they want. That’s tough to argue against.

  18. Sean Collins

    Thank you, Patrick. Your letter and comments are most welcome. For me, more disturbing than her vapid commentary was the comment and photo she posted of the bike race crash in Mexico. Worthless tw(i)t.

    ‘…than your average porn star, which, judging from your photos, may or may not include you.’ Irrelevant, but notable is that Ms. Weintraub has indeed profited as an actress. Though not literally a porn “star”, this detraction is merited. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1246123/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm

  19. Chris

    I like the piece :) Perhaps some good will come of it. One of the most troubling aspects is the fact that people support her claiming things like “bikes are not allowed in car lanes.” This leads to anger when one of us does ride in the lane, which under California law is absolutely legal. The Santa Paula police chief is meeting on Friday with Seth Davidson of cycling in the south bay blog, who has been instrumental in educating California Highway Patrol officers that cyclists may ride in the lane on PCH in Malibu, as well as the LA County Bicycle Coalition. Hopefully, this will lead to greater education to both cyclists and drivers alike.

  20. Bill O

    Just found this.

    California Penal Code 422 PC defines the crime of “criminal threats” (formerly known as terroristic threats).

    A “criminal threat” is when you threaten to kill or physically harm someone and

    that person is thereby placed in a state of reasonably sustained fear for his/her safety or for the safety of his/her immediate family,
    the threat is specific and unequivocal and
    you communicate the threat verbally, in writing, or via an electronically transmitted device.

    Criminal threats can be charged whether or not you have the ability to carry out the threat…and even if you don’t actually intend to execute the threat.

    I would say that if you are one of the people video taped by her that you contact the DA and file charges against her.

  21. Tad

    I don’t know here. I’m on the side of cyclists obviously, but it seems you’ve engaged in too much hate. I could go there when I think about some of the things she said and the pic she posted at the end of it.

    Too much credit and attention is being paid her and this silly video. I don’t agree that people will remember her name or that people will boycott the town.

    I think she is a pretty typical misguided driver who behaved stupidly.

    Hopefully though this stir will at least show a few people out there that cyclists aren’t to be messed with. Hopefully some of the more intelligent arguments made will change some minds and hearts.

    Driving does terrible things to people. This may be an example. I think the internet can have the same effect.

  22. Full Monte

    This woman has her own website domain (her blog), and her own channel on YouTube. I will not link to either, since the content she posts and uploads do not merit one minute of time by anyone possessing an IQ above an average Golden Retriever. Every rambling, incoherent piece is her doing an attack — a bitch-session — about something or someone. Perhaps she thinks of herself as Ann Coulter(ish). But with tighter clothes, a limited vocabulary, and a lack of point of view, of course. Ann Coulter has made a brand for herself making absurdly extreme statements and claims, less to drive intelligent discourse, more to increase her own exposure and fame (or infamy, depending on your politics).

    Does Laura really “hate” cyclists, as she claims, or are we (cyclists) an easy target? Something to get her mouthbreathing “fans” fist-pumping and high-fiving about? (“Yeah! Stupid Lance Armstrong wannabes! F*<7 them!")

    Whatever her motivation, Ms Weintraub has reached a wider audience with her latest video and it has exposed her as an attention craving idiot with no common sense and extremely ill-considered beliefs. However, I don't think there was true, sincere malice toward cyclists — in a literal sense — in her video. Taken in context of her entire body of work (blog and YouTube channel), she just attacked the next thing that came to her poorly functioning mind, and thought, "Hey, this will be fun! And funny! Like, who doesn't hate cyclists? Right?"

    In no way does this excuse what she did or said — even joking about committing vehicular homicide, especially as a part-time police officer, is completely despicable and unacceptable. The consequences she suffered after posting her video are completely appropriate. Of course when I first viewed the video, I was initially incensed. But as I dug around and got a better picture of who this person is, and what she regularly does, my anger subsided. This is a person deprived of normal baseline judgment, suffers from impulse control issues, and wants desperately, narcissistically to be famous. She simply picked on the wrong group of people with her last rant, and it backfired terribly.

  23. Laura

    Nice, Padraig! I’m sure that there are people like this in my city but I haven’t had much experience with them, thank goodness. I’m not sure I would be as polite as Padraig if I were in his position. There have been a rash of cyclists hit in the past year here but I’m not sure if that is because there are more cyclists, drivers are more distracted and angry or because the infrastructure is changing and no one knows where to ride. Bike lanes are popping up all over and it’s both disturbing and shocking to watch cars use that lane as if it was painted for them. Most often the bike lanes are right up against parked cars and I’m pretty sure that getting doored is unpleasant, which presents me with the options or pissing off cars by riding clear out in the “driving” lane or take my chances with the parked cars. I don’t mind riding on the shoulder or on the line, but it seems like the closer I am to the side of the road the closer cars pass me. When I am in the lane, they give me wide berth when they pass and everyone is happy. Of course, I’m one cyclist, not a group of twenty and I do change my way of riding when in a group. While most of my rides take me to roads where I won’t be in anyone’s way, I do have to maneuver through some busy streets to get there. I took a cycling safety class a few months ago that made me a better cyclist and more importantly, a better driver. I was always unsure of how to pass a cyclist before, because I never knew what the cyclist wanted from me. Do they want me to pass or do they want the lane? I see plenty of cycling sites out there that talk about everything BUT how to stay safe on the roads. As a new rider, I wish I had had the cycling safety class from the get go.

  24. tomato

    Well this is just one of those stupid and not sensible enough to know how the hell you get to be a police officer without a fucking brain. These was the great response i read so far my friend i congratulate you in a letter well spoke. Now if i ever see this person i think i might do something crazy, but let’s not go there someone else like the great creator will take care of her.. ass.. from now on
    when you don’t get a job think about what you did. stupid porn people never has brain anyway


  25. Author
    Padraig

    Full Monte: I’m going to have to ask that you use greater decorum in discussing Golden Retrievers. I happen to think they are pretty smart.

  26. ken

    I find this woman and her rant vile, moronic and attention-seeking, yes, but disturbing too since it so soon follows this bit from the Washington Post columnist who also essentially advocates violence against cyclists. . .wondering why people don’t jam broom handles through their spokes or hit them with their cars since”It’s a $500 fine for a motorist to hit a bicyclist in the District, but some behaviors are so egregious that some drivers might think it’s worth paying the fine.”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/bicyclist-bullies-try-to-rule-the-road-in-dc/2014/07/08/f7843560-06e3-11e4-bbf1-cc51275e7f8f_story.html
    This may not incite someone to deliberately disable or kill a cyclist, but may well incite the assholes to attempt to bully us off the roads with their cars. . .and worse.

  27. debbie in alamo heights

    I enjoyed your open letter.

    Strangely enough, I enjoyed the video when I first saw it too. I thought it was funny, perhaps because I did not believe she actually wanted to kill cyclists but instead was using hyperbole and exaggeration to express the frustrations a lot of drivers have with cyclists. Even cyclist drivers like me.

    She learned a hard lesson in personal responsibility, we can only hope.

    1. Anonymous

      Don’t use big words! That idiot can not follow….she uses a thesaurus and thinks joey is named baby kangaroo!

  28. Hautacam

    You know, based on that video and her cinematic aspirations, one wonders whether she was prepping a monologue to audition for the role of Bitch Pudding.

    I was going to embed a link there, but seeing as how this is Padraig’s living room and all, well . . . I’ll leave it y’all to find the various B. Pudding exemplars on Youtube.

    (*Blam!*)

    1. Tom in Albany

      Mr. Hautacam? You’re wanted in France today. It seems some guys want to ride their bikes up your spine!

  29. SusanJane

    You know, there is some pity here. I am NOT defending this sort of attack or any like it. I find them utterly nauseating. But I find pity a better mental and emotional state then ulcerative anger. I have no doubt she’s been shit on in her life and those shiters received the same from yet others. Acting out is not just for kindergarden. Finding an enemy and unloading vitriol (in whatever form) is about ego, desperation, and misdirection. “I can lay a larger shit on you then they did on me… and I can post it on YouTube!” Makes them “powerful” and dangerous, arrogant, sadistic, etc. They say there’s a level in hell reserved for that sort of misbehavior. Frankly I’m not about to be a judge over that sort of punishment. A few grains of pity reminds me that I can be a shiter all to easily. BUT if she gets personal or dangerous on the road I hope they sue the shit out of her, fire her ass, and render her poison in the porn world.

  30. rangerbagel

    Hey, why are you guys using “porn star” as an insult? There’s nothing wrong with being a porn star. It’s not shameful, so stop using it as a way to shame her. There’s no reason to be sexist about this. She’s just a jerk. It has nothing to do with her gender or appearance. And it has nothing to do with porn stars. Come on, guys. You can’t exactly assert your moral superiority over her if you’re just going to lazily fall back on casual misogyny.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Rangerbagel: “Porn star” is not a term of mine. I referenced that it was used by someone else. In my work I avoid name-calling of that ilk. As to whether or not it is a shameful occupation, this isn’t really the forum for that discussion, but I can at least say that my folks would have been mortified had I told them that was my chosen profession. Following their reaction, I would have experienced shame. So there’s that.

      The larger point of this post was to illustrate that when you threaten peoples’ lives, it’s open season on insults. There’s a rule somewhere.

  31. Rob

    What the hell is a “volunteer police officer” anyway?
    That just may be the scariest thing about this little episode.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Let’s hope for something a little more civil, like maybe she commits to an education or gets run over by a clue.

  32. gregorio

    I’m certainly inspired by your response to LW, but even more by your comments re the culture of the internet. Whether her grossly sick comments, or the comments of others who seem to think unrestrained trash-talking is either funny or somehow entertaining, the fact stands that the WWW can be a scary place. Thanks for both your rebut and the reality check on cyber culture.

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