It’s getting harder and harder to not offend people, especially when they’re members of a self-defined “community.”
Consider the Columbus, Ohio, bi-community – bicyclists, that is – whose members are up in arms over a parade float they characterize as advocating hate and violence against them.
Social media erupted Monday following the city’s annual Fourth of July satire-themed Doo Dah Parade, where participants are invited to be as politically incorrect as they want to be. Rude, even.
Organizers don’t register participants, they don’t approve or censor messages and only enforce two rules: no blatant advertising and no full nudity, reported the Columbus Dispatch.
So, needless to say, such public displays are sure to offend anyone who doesn’t enter into the spirit of the event.
That’s what happened when a one-man “float” – an SUV with a bicyle attached to the front and a pair of stuffed rider’s legs coming out of the vehicle’s sunroof – passed by. The addition of a hand-lettered sign on the side of the SUV reading, “I’ll share the road when you follow the rules,” completed the package, reported Bicycling Magazine.
Local rider Spencer Hackett took to Twitter, posting the “unbelievable” photo and saying organizers of the parade should be ashamed for allowing the entry.
“Unfortunately this guy wasn’t attempting parody,” Hackett said in a tweet, rejecting the idea that the float was just meant as satire. He accused the parody parader of aiming his message at the city’s bike-friendly policies.
“He was quite sincere with his hate,” said Hackett.
Parade organizers are unmoved by charges the float advocated violence against bicyclists.
“It’s freedom of speech. If it stirred up reaction, I guess he had a good political message,” Deb Roberts, Mz Doo Dah, told the Columbus Dispatch. “I think it was satire against those bicyclists who don’t obey traffic laws.”
“If it’s satire, it was pretty poorly executed,” said Catherine Girves, executive director of Yay Bikes. “This was about bullying. The truth of the matter is, no motorist wants to hit a cyclist … To make people afraid to be on the road is a really effective strategy in getting your way.”
Other edgy entry’s in the parade included impersonators of Jesus and the pope. A man dressed in a gorilla costume portrayed Harambe, the primate killed by Cincinnati Zoo officials after a child wandered into its enclosure. “Harambe” dragged along a man dressed as a toddler and preached to the crowd about the importance of being a watchful mother.
The designer and driver of the bicycle-themed float remains a mystery since Doo Dah does not require registration.
Cyclists are not without legitimate concern for their safety. “Bicyclist Magazine” notes a Brookly cyclist killed several days ago by a driver who hit him purposely. Last month, two women were hit and killed only hours apart in preventable accidents in San Francisco. An alleged DUI driver killed five and injured four riders last month in Michigan.
In 2013, a San Francisco cyclist was convicted of killing a 71-year-old pedestrian, after running several stop signs and riding into an intersection after the light had turned red.