Sunday, November 25, 2007

Victims of Victims

I've created a new Yahoo! Group called "Victims of Victims."

Throughout the past century, physical and emotional abuse have been a serious problem in our society. Traditionally, abusiveness in the household was kept secret. This secretiveness, in turn, allowed the abuse to flourish because no one wanted to acknowledge it. By the mid to late 20th Century, you could find abuse in some form in virtually every household.

Fortunately, towards the end of the 20th Century, people in abusive situations started coming forward. As more and more people told their stories, the problem became a bigger and bigger part of the social consciousness. By the dawn of the 21st Century, people finally recognized it as the societal cancer it is, and always was.

Unfortunately, our awareness of it did not become a cure any more than chemotherapy did for cancer. Our awareness of abuse has helped stem the tide and stop some of the worst of it, but has also caused considerable collateral damage; in the same way chemotherapy makes the patient sick, so too does our awareness of abuse sometimes harm the innocent.

Nobody is perfect; we all do "abusive" things we regret later. The problem is, society has become so paranoid of abuse in all forms that often just being accused of abuse carries a stigma. For all intents and purposes, a person accused of abuse becomes guilty until proven innocent.

A police officer I spoke to once put it quite eloquently: "We have to take every complaint, no matter how small, seriously because there have been one too many dead wives found on their kitchen floors."

Victims of Victims is a support group for people who have been victims, not of traditional abuse, but of "abuse victims" who use society's paranoia with abuse as a tool to abuse their "abuser." This group is for anyone who's ever had someone call the police on them when they didn't deserve it or been unfairly slandered by "victims."

Maybe some of us have made genuine mistakes in the past... but none of us deserve this.

Click here to join Victims of Victims
Click to join Victims of Victims

Sunday, November 11, 2007

To Protect and Serve?

This is a Letter to the Editor I just submitted to my local newspaper, The Cape Breton Post:
From: John A. Ardelli
Subject: Misguided Law Enforcement
Date: November 11, 2007 1:35:33 PM AST
To: Cape Breton Post Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

"Bicyclists may occupy as much of a traffic lane as their safety warrants." This is a direct quote from the Bicycle Safety brochure published by Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. It means, if there’s no room to share, cyclists have the right to take as much lane space as they need. Unfortunately, this fact does not appear to be a part of the training given to officers of the Cape Breton Regional Police.

Several weeks ago, a police constable in an unmarked cruiser squeezed by me within centimeters as I traveled east on Kings Road just past Kenwood Drive. When I honked my horn and yelled after him, he pulled me over and accused me of "impeding traffic" (all the while his cruiser, stopped on the road, was doing just that) and that I should be riding at the extreme right.

This past Friday, a police officer honked at me as I traveled west towards Kenwood Drive. I pointed to the lane next to me to signal him to go around me; he did. However, when I got to work, he caught up with me and told me the same fallacy about "impeding traffic" (and accused me of making a "left hand turn signal" when I pointed to the adjacent lane) and said I need to move over more. This officer, unlike the other, was at least polite about it and didn’t impede traffic himself.

In both cases, the officers claimed they were doing this for my "safety."

I've only ever had one collision on Kings Road, with a cyclist riding on the sidewalk at the Kimberly Drive intersection.

If these police officers truly want to increase the safety of cyclists, it's the cyclists on the sidewalks, not the law-abiding ones on the road, that they need to address.
That was as much as I could say within the Post's 300 word limit. I did, however, publish a bit more detail on the story on Cyclelicious; click the title of this entry to go directly to the article there.