Saturday, 23 August 2014

The Only '-ism' in the Village ...

'Bloody hell. Really? You're cyclists. Not a persecuted ethnic group. Get a grip. Nobody is inflaming, apart from this "blogger" '
While Googling to see if this blog is being crawled by Google's spiders, I stumbled across a blog post presenting a viewpoint diametrically opposed to mine !

Yeah, “motorism” isn’t a thing… Reflections and Rants

It is a reaction to a professor's article titled 'Motorists' in an Iowa campus student newspaper.
“…’motorists’ have a lot in common with racists and sexists. Bigotry in all its forms is about unequal power and lack of respect.”
"[He] argued that “cyclists” experience “motorism” as women experience sexism and as “minorities” (his word, not mine) experience racism; that when he hops on his bike, he becomes a “member of a [despised] class” instead of an individual, because his esteemed status, including his elite degree from a prestigious institution and his heterosexuality, becomes irrelevant; that he is a “victim” of “motorism” because “bigots” have thrown things and shouted obscenities at other cyclists; and, (my personal favorite) that he has internalized “self-hatred” because he looks to ride on roads with less motor vehicle traffic."
Her response (echoing friends) was
"What I experience as a cyclist is nothing like what I experience daily as a gay woman." 
But she seems to assume that the professor has only experienced what she has experienced as a cyclist, and would deny him his own broader experience and reaction, but without any clear justification or explanation.

An accidental close pass is not deliberate 'motorism' : a deliberate 'punishment pass' probably is the result of a deep inner hatred. Perhaps she hasn't experienced that as a cyclist yet ? And even when not cycling, we are still cyclists - we sometimes have related conversations with motorists in a social setting.

Of course, I haven't seen the original article, so can't tell if it was a 'simile' (motorism is like racism) or a 'metaphor' (motorism is a kind of racism). Doing a 'compare and contrast' exercise could be constructive !
There will be similarities and there will be differences. A professor writing for students could be forgiven for being thought-provoking, or even controversial.

To be fair, he may also not have experienced anything quite like her experiences, but does that absolutely prevent empathy ? My experience of 'purple' is not the same as your experience of 'purple', but that doesn't rule out my use of the word 'purple'.

And, yes, there is no reason not to create new words - all words have been created, through evolution, if not punctuated equilibrium.

There are already many kinds of '-ism'.
Merriam-Webster dictionary already defines 'motorism' as 'addiction to or practice of motoring'.

I seem to recall it was Samuel Johnson (or was it Ambrose Bierce ?) who defined
Theism
n. Belief in the existence of a God as the Creator and Ruler of the universe.
n. A morbid affection resulting from the excessive use of tea.
So very different definitions can co-exist, even for the same word.

Hate Crime is defined as
any notifiable offence committed against a person or property that is motivated by hostility towards someone based on their disability, race, religion, gender-identity or sexual orientation, whether perceived to be so by the victim or any other person.
We have a police force in North England that has also classified emo-bashing as ‘hate crime’.

In Merseyside crimes committed against people in prostitution are dealt with as hate crimes.
(A no-brainer since Jack the Ripper ...)

Nottinghamshire Police records misogyny as a hate crime - [ BBC News ]

The president of the Automobile Association has said ‘almost like’.

London Police have adopted a wide 'definition' - "any other actual or perceived difference".


You can get a feel for motorism from @CycleHatred on Twitter.

If you don't understand the title, see 'Daffyd Thomas' on YouTube.

See Also