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The Lifestyle: Tony Kornheiser Makes My Hate List

I hate incompetent cyclists more than anyone else. Seriously, I do. Every time someone does something dumb on a bike in front of a car or gets into a stupid argument with a driver it means that person is going to have less patience with me and my friends when they come up on us riding single-file and sharing the road.




That being said Tony Kornheiser is a fucking asshole to suggest on ESPN radio that people should give cyclists "a little tap" so they "take a spill" since they are "daring us to run them over". I would love to get up is his face with some anger about this but instead I'm going to file a complaint here. You can hear the broadcast on ESPN radio yourself here. Go to Part 1 of the March 11th broadcast at about the 33 min mark.


I got hip to this bullshit via Lance Armstrong's twitter feed. Here's a related article.

Though this is somewhat besides the point, he rants about cyclists "stupid shiny tights" or something like that. Um, what about football assclown? No beef with them giving you "the angle" in "shiny tights"?  And I would like to think I look waaay better in spandex than a 300 pound linebacker. Then again this is the guy who served a 2 week suspension for making comments about a female sport anchor's outfit - so fuck 'em.

Here is the letter I sent into ESPN via the above link. If you are too busy to write your own you may copy and send it in as your own:

I'm sure you've received several letters about this situation already but I have to add my disgusted reaction to Tony Kornheiser's March 11th radio show where he promoted violence against cyclists in response to newly announced DC bike lanes.

Hopefully I don't have to explain to you how the actions he repeatedly and casually advocated ("tapping" cyclists with a car) are dangerous if not deadly and completely illegal.

I "get" that Mr. Kornheiser is "joking" and that his "style" so-to-speak is supposed to be inflammatory and I have enjoyed his show prior to this incident. 

However, Mr. Kornheiser is clearly not a cyclist himself so he does not comprehend the reality of what is coming out of his mouth. ESPN, if not Mr. Kornheiser himself, must understand that he is dealing with REAL issues with REAL consequences.

Vehicular violence against cyclists is something that my friends and I have all directly or indirectly experienced and always with palpable fear.

As I'm writing this one of my friends is immobilized on his couch recovering from his 2nd surgery to repair damage sustained when a negligent motorist pulled out in front of him almost 9 months ago.

Mr. Kornheiser gleefully exploits tensions between angry motorists and cycists. Such specific and detailed advocacy for violence goes well beyond the realm of hypothetical. 

Mr. Kornheiser served a 2 week suspension for harshly criticizing a female anchor's outfit earlier this year. I trust that ESPN will again reprimand Mr. Kornheiser at least as harshly given the content of his statements.

[UPDATE 13:42 EST: I want to add a minor point of clarification here based on a major misunderstanding I'm seeing in op-ed pieces I read on this subject during lunch.

If Mr. Kornheiser (or anyone else for that matter) says they hate cyclists, I would rather they didn't feel that way, but there is no real problem with that. Cyclists aren't whining because Mr. Kornheiser isn't going to invite us to his birthday party.

That's not the problem here.

Some have pointed out that Mr. Kornheiser is just blowing hot air as he's infamous for doing. I agree, and do not for a second think he would actually run a cyclist over with his car. If he though that was  a good idea he would have already done it.

That's not the problem here.

The problem is that if someone says they hate figure skating and think it's a good idea to run a figure skater out of the rink with a zambonie, that's an innocuous statement regardless of whether or not they mean it. That's because it's never going to happen.

This is not that same thing.

When cyclists ride on the roads they literally put their lives in the hands of hundreds of motorists an hour who pass them as they ride. Disgruntled motorists. People who have had bad days. People in a hurry. People with a temper.

Mr. Kornheiser's comments play into those people's frustrations. They tempt listeners to "punish" cyclists and even glorify doing so. This is real. This happens daily around the world.

That's the problem here.]

[UPDATE 03/23/10 23:25: LA went on TK's show the next day and they discussed his comments. LA got to speak his piece and TK apologized for his comments. Some people may disagree but I find this to be a sufficient resolution. LA put it best "bikes and cars are both here to stay" -- what we need is a mutual understanding. And in a media circus like this what happened on the show is as good as we're going to get.

Back to training and racing.]

5 comments:

  1. Knowing Tony Kornheiser's style, you've got to take his comments with a rather LARGE grain of salt. After listening, it's pretty obvious when he's actually seriously venting and when he's taking creative license with his comments.

    His beef seems to be with the cyclists who don't share the road, the ones who ride 3-4 wide, the ones who are floundering in and out of the bike line (you know, the ones we cyclists already hate).

    You can pretty easily tell when he's just piling on for the sake of humor and making a spectacle out of the discussion so I wouldn't take that too seriously. Of course, maybe some people can't tell the difference and that's where this takes a turn for the worse.

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  2. As a cyclist, however, you don't have to defend this person's choice of words.

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  3. It's like they're talking about my life story. Cyclists on the road, taking valuable car space - give em a tap, just push them out of the way, reclaim the road, I pay for the road with my taxes and registration and license fees.

    Only I'm a cyclist, and I was hospitalized last year because a car felt they could "tap" me with their door. 9 months on, I have pain every day because of it. I was one of the lucky ones. I am still alive.

    I "get" that Mr. Kornheiser is "joking" and that his "style" so-to-speak is supposed to be inflammatory and I have enjoyed his show prior to this incident. Vehicular violence against cyclists is something that my friends and I have all directly or indirectly experienced and always with palpable fear.

    Mr. Kornheiser gleefully exploits tensions between angry motorists and cycists. Such specific and detailed advocacy for violence goes well beyond the realm of hypothetical.

    I direct your thoughts to Magda Szubanski's (Australian Comedian) handling of a similar jokes about this exact same matter. As a result of her violence promotion, she posted a public apology and joined Ride To Work day as an apology. This will never undo the damage of her actions, but it goes a long way. As does suspension of Mr. Kornheiser for his inappropriate and violence inciting actions.

    Regards,
    Kris Rhodes
    Motorcyclist, Car enthusiast and Cyclist.

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  4. Anonymous12:00 PM

    I used to work @ ESPN. This is reprehensible. It's like saying "get raped? you deserved it." I'm definitely writing in.

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  5. I had a co-worker who once thought like that - I could never get her to understand the rules of the road at all. I'm not sure what Tony is trying to do, other than to lose his job based on all of recent comments on many things.

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