Monday 16 September 2013

Superb trolling for cycle hate by Cambridge News

(disclaimer - I'm off work with a thumping cold today. So forgive me if I ramble).

You may recall I recently wrote about type 5 cyclist haters - Trollumnists. You can see how superbly well trollumnists can do at their tasks if you look at articles like this one here.

In a nutshell - our Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has managed to get the Liberal Democrat party to endorse a proportionate liability policy for UK roads. Or, in other words, if this came to pass then in the absence of other evidence, from an insurance perspective those who bring most risk to the road are assumed most liable. It means if a lorry t-bones a car we'd assume its the lorry drivers fault. If a car driver mows down a child and there are huge medical bills then unless there is compelling evidence to that it should not be the case the insurance company of the motorist would have to pay up. This is the same system as across continental Europe and its pretty much the same as we see in work places - you don't have to be 'to blame' to be liable. But the person who brings most of the hazard to any scenario is held to be most responsible when something goes wrong, because the person bringing most potential harm is judged to need to take most care.

Its reasonable. Its fair. Its a no brainer - and across all of the countries where this happens its not even raised as a problem. Its generally going to provide cheaper insurance premiums too - after all if you're not immediately assuming that there must be a legal battle you've got immmeduiate cost savings right there.

So how would you report that if you were a journalist? "Lorry drivers to be held responsible if they hit cars"? "Cyclist to be assumed liable for hitting pedestrians"? Oh, no. Of course not. Not if you're a Cambridge News journalist.

Julian Huppert's reforms which could see motorists held automatically liable for crashes with cyclists adopted as Liberal Democrat policy

This trolling is working remarkably well too - as of writing this there are pages and pages of comments, mostly from the frothing at the mouth, swivel eyed loon type who will keep going back over and over again to be ever more offended.

Now of course the journalist Chris Havergal would be keen to point out that the article itself is far more balanced. He could tell us that the article does allude to other things Julian Huppert said on cycling, or that the same law would also judge cyclists at fault if they harm pedestrians. But we must delve deep into the article to find the truth behind the harm that has been done. Few people read a whole article rather than skim the headlines - journalists know full well the power of a headline. This is high quality trolling for cyclist hate - lets look at just how well he's done by going through some comments...

The result of this, will be cyclists who are already a law unto themselves on the road, putting themselves into all kinds of dangerous situations as they know the driver will be deemed at fault. Smart move. Not.
anadapter: typical stupid remark that we have come to expect from a cyclist. If only they could behave like responsible road users instead of loutish lycra louts and then blame everyone else for their stupidy.
 As soon as the cyclists start paying attention to the road signs and signals I'm all up for this! 
 Katiel, your dead right, think its the only way, especially with idiotts that jump lights and cross the road like a bat out of hell in front of my car with out stopping or looking,plus its time he got on HIS Bike

I could go on, but you get the picture. There are some comments criticisng the journalist - but they'll be happy with that because it also generates more hits then the cyclsit haters turn up en masse to ctiticise the criticisers. You make more money from ads if people keep angrily clicking back.

Trolling for cyclist hate is the same as inciting that hate towards us. It normalises that hate - in giving those who already despise us opportunity to revel in this as if its a reasonable stance articles like this post a real threat to us. That headline is a direct attempt to do encourage people to post abuse towards us - it intentionally slants the readership, hence the responses, in a particularly savage unpleasant way. 

Be under no illusions - we can draw no positives from journalism like this, and any and all cyclist organisations who don't vocally come out against such reporting are also not acting in our interests.

Hey, Cambridge Cycling Campaign, you'll be ridiculing this crap, won't you?

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