I wish to make a deeply heartfelt apology to all motorists

A friendly looking anthopomorphised cat of adult size is holding the hand of a small child while they walk together across a pedestrian crossing

THIS EMMOTORISING AUTONOMYNAZI *REALLY* WANTS ALL DRIVERS SENT TO PRISON TO HAVE THEIR STEERING HANDS CHOPPED OFF IF THEY IGNORE PEDESTRIANS' SIGNS OF NERVOUSNESS, FEAR OR DISCOMFORT WHEN WE DON'T STOP AT PEDESTRIAN CROSSINGS - BUT WE WON'T GET CAUGHT OUT PANDERING TO THEIR IRRATIONAL FEARS, RIGHT?

In the wake of Elevatorgate, I realise that in habitually engaging in a calculus of threat/risk-assessment vigilance every single time I cross the road, I have actually been doing you all a most grave injustice. To compound my offence, I’ve taught my children to do the same as I was taught. I really don’t know how to begin apologising enough.

How dare I presume that considerate and competent folks such as yourselves could ever possibly, for even the most vanishingly rare hypothetical but not entirely unheard-of reason, be in less than utterly conscious and completely safe and entirely harmless control of the massive piece of metal machinery that is rapidly approaching me, or have any doubts about whether your foot will connect with the brake pedal in time to avoid hitting me?

Why, I’ve been treating you all as Potential Vehicular Homiciders all this time, and it’s just not fair! From now on I’m going to do the decent thing and just walk across the road without even looking. I know that I’ll be totally safe, because what could possibly go wrong with you (and you, and you) behind the wheel?

I’m also flabbergasted that at one time I thought enrolling in a defensive driving course might be a sensible risk-management idea. How flagrantly insulting to my fellow road-users would that be, constantly being in a deliberately fostered state of relaxed-but-vigilant awareness about what might go wrong at any moment, prejudging fellow drivers as potential dangers to my safety on the road? I mean, that would be unjustifiably prejudging them as a potential threats! Totally fucked in the head, right? Don’t get me started on random breath testing, the bastards.


I also wish to express my solidarity in outrage with every single shopper who walks into a store with a CC-TV camera recording their every move. How dare they assume that we might just possibly be potential shoplifters?

Also, all you students whose schools automatically run your essay papers through a database to check for possible plagiarism – how appallingly and unbearably insulting is that?

As for those fascists who want me to put my (well, I could have one some day) dog on a leash near the toddler’s playground, apparently “just in case” my dog is not as friendly as I think it is, well…hanging’s too good for them. Obviously.


I know that all these systems claim to only be necessary because some people take advantage of other people’s natural desire to trust in the goodwill of others to gain unfairt advantage or get away with harming/traumatising others in some reckless/negligent/wanton/callous/sadistic pattern, but obviously that can’t be right. There’s got to be some secretly hateful intersecting agenda that is squarely aimed at making all drivers everywhere feel shame for your natural road-user impulses underlying it all, really. You know it makes sense.


*h/t to several skeptical/atheist commentors thrashing out concepts in comments at Greg Laden’s joint last week in response to this comment from someone on Team Meltdown:

And I guess we’ll just have to respectfully disagree on whether or not the burden should be on me to prove my innocence. To me, that’s like saying I must prove to stores that I’m not a thief (I’m not), that I must prove to my teachers that I’m not a plagiarist (I’m not), and that I must prove to casinos that I’m not counting cards (I’m not, I suck at math).

It was pointed out that stores, teachers and casinos do, in fact, all have systems in place that monitor *everybody* for shoplifting, plagiarism and card-counting, respectively. It’s part of their explicit contract with their clientele. Why doesn’t he find this just as offensive a prejudgment of his character? Apparently it’s just “different”.



Categories: ethics & philosophy, Life, parenting, skepticism

Tags: , , ,

15 replies

  1. *sigh*

    Melodramatic much? 😦

  2. Sorry, I didn’t finish my thoughts before I hit submit.
    I don’t think these are fair comparisons *at all*.
    There’s a difference between being smart and seeing the bogey man around every corner (or in every elevator).

  3. I think many people can agree with you that some people involved in this have reacted melodramatically.

  4. Melodramatic much? 😦

    Yep, absolutely. You are aware of the standard repertoire of rhetorical techniques?

    There’s a difference between being smart and seeing the bogey man around every corner (or in every elevator).

    It’s only the I-See-Misandry Meltdown crew who are claiming that a background level of threat-assessment vigilance equates to seeing the bogey man around every corner.
    Not automatically trusting other humans I meet is my background state, and I think that’s not only perfectly reasonable but is actually how most people operate, because of the almost universal experience of other humans imposing upon one in various ways. I find that it protects me from all sorts of minor and major unpleasantnesses arising from simple lack of consideration from others, let alone any more actively reckless/nefarious/manipulative/fraudulent/criminal intentions that some people are known to have towards others.
    This doesn’t mean that I run around accusing people of actually committing crimes unless they do so. But I’m not going to be bullied by a bunch of chestpuffers into giving them a higher level of trust than I give to anyone else simply because they say that it hurts their fee-fees to be untrusted.

    • P.S. Social norms/codes of etiquette develop in order to grease the wheels for human interactions so that we can converse and work together productively without necessarily “trusting” one another at a fundamental level, so long as the norms are widely followed in our communities we make it work. (eta: Consideration of how our actions might make other people feel, and modifying our actions accordingly, is such a fundamental social norm that is one of the first things most (all?) human societies teach our children.)
      People who only follow the accepted norms/manners amongst those they consider their peers and act differently with other people actively make those other people anxious, because it is immediately obvious to those other people that they have been marginalised as somehow being unworthy of being treated just the same as everybody else. It is rational for one to be concerned as to whether the other social norms of the group will be followed by somebody who has already breached social norms in their interactions with one.

      • P.P.S. I’ve just expanded the hat-tip information at the bottom of the post to include the full text of the comment which provoked the responses from others that inspired this post.
        *h/t to several skeptical/atheist commentors thrashing out concepts in comments at Greg Laden’s joint last week in response to this comment from someone on Team Meltdown:

        And I guess we’ll just have to respectfully disagree on whether or not the burden should be on me to prove my innocence. To me, that’s like saying I must prove to stores that I’m not a thief (I’m not), that I must prove to my teachers that I’m not a plagiarist (I’m not), and that I must prove to casinos that I’m not counting cards (I’m not, I suck at math).

        It was pointed out that stores, teachers and casinos do, in fact, all have systems in place that monitor *everybody* for shoplifting, plagiarism and card-counting, respectively. It’s part of their explicit contract with their clientele. Why doesn’t he find this just as offensive a prejudgment of his character? Apparently it’s just “different”.

  5. “Being smart.” I’ve heard that phrase much more often in the context of telling women all the things they shouldn’t do, in order not to be raped. It’s just “smart” not to go out late/dress like a slut/drink in bars or at parties, it’s not blaming the victim. How come a “smart” woman is the one who accepts all the restrictions on her own life, but she’s not “smart” to expect men to place the most trivial of curbs on whatever whim they may feel inclined to fulfill? How come “smart” is located precisely at that point after woman has to give up a bunch of things, and before a man does?

  6. The illogical way so many men (Dawkins included) have been arguing indicates something Greta Christina pointed out on her blog. These men are not interested in making themselves, atheist and skeptic communities, or society in general more appealing and less threatening to women: they are interested in protecting their privilege.
    Many don’t even recognise these things as privileges; they see them as rights. The right to not have to think about sexual relations from the perspective of their sexual partners, (actual and potential). The right to behave exactly as they please in any situation and not be challenged or questioned. The right to say “we gave you the vote, (or “we don’t cut off your genitals” or “we let you drive cars” etc) now shut up.”
    Also, the right to be given the benefit of the doubt by women in all situations, and don’t forget the corollary right to say “well she should have been more careful/what did she expect being in a lift alone with a stranger at night/it’s just foolish and naive for a woman to expect to be safe in a situation like that” when a women does get assaulted.
    It’s culturally sanctioned narcissism, really.

  7. Beautiful post TT.

  8. Well, obviously those things are poor analogies since this is different cause women are the sex class /sarcasm/.

    thanks TT, this was brilliant.

  9. How many ways can it be argued that men’s feelings are more important than women’s safety? Culturally sanctioned narcissism really sums it up, Hedgepig.

  10. And I guess we’ll just have to respectfully disagree on whether or not the burden should be on me to prove my innocence. To me, that’s like saying I must prove to stores that I’m not a thief (I’m not)
    If I go into a store, take something off a shelf and put it in my pocket, that’s thievy behaviour. I might intend to take it back out of my pocket at the till and pay for it – but even if that’s true and I have no intention of being a thief, I’ve still engaged in thievy behaviour. If I corner a woman in an elevator and ask her back to my room, that’s creepy behaviour, whatver my actual or intended status as a creep.
    It’s not about guilt or innocence, because innocence doesn’t turn creepy into not-creepy.
    Espeically in a world where had Rebecca Watson gone back to the guy’s room, and had he turned out to be a rapist, most of the same people now castigating her for overreacting would be holding forth on how stupid she’d been.

    • The foam-pie thrown at Rupert Murdoch incident* just now in the House of Commons has some interesting parallels:
      1. He just wanted to throw a foam pie!
      2. A foam pie can’t do anybody any harm, so everybody just over-reacted!
      3. Murdoch’s wife, and the attending police, were absolutely right to react to him as a credible threat, because they didn’t know #1, so #2 is irrelevant to how they should have reacted.
      * although most of the reporters on the telly are saying “nobody thinks this is funny”, I beg to differ. This, I freely admit, is most likely because I don’t consider Rupert Murdoch to be fully human.

      • I just realised that there’s a #4 and #5 (which also don’t have any effect on #3):
        4. His execution was inept*
        5. The foam-pie tactic was strategically unwise, because even if his aim had been better, this hasn’t had, and never was going to have, the desired effect*
        * the pie didn’t hit his target
        * * instead of humiliating Murdoch as just another step in the crumbling of his empire, it’s garnered sympathy for Murdoch at a time when he had virtually none

  11. @TT – but can you imagine how the tables would have been turned had it been his wife whom the pie was directed at?
    I’m guessing that a) we would have had a lot more ‘but nothing happened because he missed, you are all overreacting’, ‘it’s just a foam pie, it wouldn’t have hurt her anyway’ mixed with a bit of b) ‘what does she expect being married to a man like Rupert Murdoch’ i.e. rich, powerful etc as if that gives targeting her any sort of legitimacy. + other things that may not have been said but would have been thought as she is a WOC.

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