Friday, February 10, 2012

It's the Culture, Stupid

"If I run into you, and you're on a bike, you're dead. My truck, we'll just bounce"


"They're so stupid. Why do they think they get to be up against cars."

More laughter.

That brilliant, mature, and sensitive exchange came direct from the mouths of Generation Y. The best and the brightest. The ones who are allegedly going to take the reins and lead the country.

I heard this conversation on Wednesday. Cringed. Made a conscious decision to not leave my office to interrupt and preach law at them. I bit my tongue, hoping they were not as assholish as they seemed.

After all, this generation is marked by the myriad and mirrored hall of self-representation. Their identities never static, never 100% honest.

Is there an app for curing stupid?

I stewed and went about my day.

Then yesterday, as I woke up, before I even got out of bed, I read about a time when those in a car did not just bounce. I saw photographs of a horrific one-car crash a few blocks from my house. The car's roof had to be removed in an attempt to remove the victims. The passenger died.

If someone so much as hears about a person getting mugged on Allen Place, he will avoid that area. But the Almighty Automobile? We have come to view accidents as an acceptable risk if it means a trip to the grocery store takes five minutes instead of twenty.

Later yesterday, sitting in the same office, I read that a cyclist was struck in Hartford.


Hit hard enough that he required CPR.

The photograph on news sites shows his belongings strewn all over the street.

The news, they don't even know how to deal with this kind of incident. The victim is at once described as a cyclist and a pedestrian. There is no rush to describe him. Most articles do not even try, giving no indication of sex, age, or race. The one that bothers to: male, somewhere between childhood and AARP.

One report states the driver stayed at the accident scene. Others don't say this. One comment suggests the driver's license may have been suspended.

The way our culture regards people using transportation outside of privately-owned vehicles indicates that we are all in critical condition.

Recklessness behind the wheel receives such a light slap on the wrist that one could believe no consequences could ever come for one's crimes. Motorists could slow down. They could stop. They could look where they are going. Really look. They could scan the roadway for objects beside other motorized vehicles.

They could think before they act.

Last night, for reasons unrelated to the car vs. cyclist accident, there was a large DUI enforcement checkpoint set up on Asylum Street. Even with ample media coverage of this, several individuals were arrested there.

They were especially warned to think about their actions, and several were still unable to put the safety of others ahead of themselves.

Of the three arrested for driving under the influence -- including one who had been driving with a suspended license -- what are the odds that all will be back behind the wheel within months, if not immediately?

Our culture fosters this mentality that if we can afford a vehicle, then we are entitled to drive. And to take that "right" away, we have to repeatedly and brazenly fuck up.

That's the message sent to those on foot or on bike: You have no rights. No recourse. Me in this car? I'll just bounce. No permanent damage.

No comments: