I don’t have kids, but I appreciate that people who do are fond of them. I’m fond of them too, provided they aren’t screaming into my ear and haven’t yet picked up any bad habits from their parents. So let me say this straight off: my recent satire concerning the hit-and-run which left Lucie Wilding bruised and battered was in no way meant to excuse the behavior of the cyclist. It pains me to have to preface this post by parading sympathy for the victim which should go without saying, but these are the times in which we live.
Now then, on to the contretemps. (What contretemps, you ask? A trifling matter really, but it livened up my Saturday morning and raised the blood pressure of a fair few readers of road.cc. More on this under the fold.)
IF IT BLEEDS IT LEADS
The Daily Mail has identified what it claims is the most callous cyclist in Britain, who was filmed showing little more regard for a child than you would to a traffic cone. However, a frame-by-frame analysis of the video shows that the “hit and run villain” was actually forced into the path of wee Lucie Wilding to avoid being run down by another cyclist, moving too fast to be positively identified but thought to be Sir Bradley Wiggins.
The outrage spread across the media and to the normally placid BBC:
Wiggins, known to be practicing for his hour record attempt, has yet to answer police inquiries about his whereabouts at the time of the incident. The cyclist caught in the net of worldwide condemnation was reluctant to implicate him, however:
The sideburned CBE has also recently been in the news promoting helmets, and indeed, experts have suggested that the child’s injuries may have been mitigated had she been wearing one.
. . .
The story had all the ingredients for silly season clickbait. It proved irresistible to other news outlets, readers, me. I thought it was clear by virtue of the absurdity of my imagined scenario I meant no harm to the poor girl and minimal damage to Sir Bradley, who was hauled in partly due to his recent pronouncement on the desirability of compulsion for helmets and partly for no reason at all other than the image of him careening down the pavement just popped into my head.
It didn’t take long for the flak to hit.
More are reproduced below in this blog’s comments section, which in the absence of comments to Lost in Translation I’m using as a space for footnotes.
To top it off I was experiencing intensely frustrating internet connection difficulties.
I had honestly thought this would fly under the radar rather than over heads. Therefore I more or less posted and ran: I had a medical appointment to get to. By the time I was getting ready to hightail it to the hospital there was blood in the water.
My connection was so bad by now that I actually ran to a neighbour’s house to post a hurried reply attempting to absolve road.cc of responsibility and gently point out that none of my targets was a poor defenseless girl – who wasn’t meant to be friendly fire, either. After that I disappeared into a displeasing unconnected-even-to-wifi state.
The editor soon made an executive decision to spike it. I don’t blame him: he’s got advertisers and subscribers with pitchforks to deal with.
Me, I’m just glad I got out alive. Fortunately I’ve developed a thick enough skin that I was more excited than frightened. There was even fear voiced by some (including the ed) that the Mail and Wiggins might sit up and take notice! I felt like my bloodstream had been spiked with whatever Lance was on when I contemplated that, preposterous as the prospect seemed to me, but alas it was not to be.
There are several obvious lessons to be learned from this episode, the first of which is Think of the Children. No, not the little ones: the big ones who should be able to recognise a rebuttal to a 10 minute hate when they see one without needing a time out. Also, people’s sympathy for innocent toddlers tends to outweigh their hunger for satire. I’m sure my wife, who bore witness the above proceedings, has other lessons she’d like to add… but let’s leave it at that. And this: