Bicycists don't deserve hate or violence

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Today's Chronicle story about an SUV driver purposely running down four bicyclists in San Francisco last night is disturbing enough, but the neanderthals who commented on that story to support this murderous rampage and blame bicyclists' behaviors for encouraging the attack are truly outrageous and should be universally condemned. Has civil society broken down to the point where advocating violence against innocents is acceptable?

I've been the target of such rhetorical attacks for promoting bicycling, but when someone deliberately runs over a series of unrelated bicyclists, it's time for all of us to reevaluate our use of hateful rhetoric and consider its impact on the mentally unbalanced, as this driver clearly was. Words don't hurt, but when those words condone and promote violence, it's time for all public-spirited individuals to apply the brakes.

Most people have long since abandoned any sympathy for the position that the rape victim was asking for it because she wore a short skirt, or that the gay beating victim shouldn't have been so flagrantly making out in public, or that the lynching victim was getting a little uppity.

Similarly, even the most obnoxious, red-light-running, Critical Mass-riding, pedestrian-threatening bicyclist doesn't deserve to be intentionally run over by an SUV. And when people blame a heinous attack like this on how bicyclists ride, even if just making a joke, they validate a hatred that we all should be condemning, no matter how you feel about bikes.