Savannah has a well-deserved national reputation for being mannerly, a distinction local convention and tourism officials have used in marketing the Hostess City of the South. But it’s important to remember that not everyone in charming old Savannah is courteous, as a glimpse at the reader-supplied content on the Savannah Morning News’ Web site will reveal.
For instance, it appears at least one person in this “wonderfully hospitable and gracious city” feels comfortable boasting about his or her willingness to murder innocent people. From the Vox Populi section of the Savannah Morning News on Dec. 2:
“Please tell all these wannabe Lance Armstrongs to get on the streets with bike paths. One of these days they are going to pull out in front of someone, mainly me, and, ‘adios.’”
Well, at least this person said, “please.” It’s interesting that threatening the lives of cyclists, at least anonymously, is socially acceptable. Socially acceptable enough not only for a person to send this to the Savannah Morning News, but also socially acceptable enough to win the approval of the paper’s editors. Imagine if someone called in these comments:
“I hate it when people cut in front of me in the supermarket checkout line. One of these days I’ll bring my gun to the store and ‘adios.’”
“People who have loud conversations on cell phones annoy me. One of these days I’ll pull out my hunting knife and ‘adios.’”
Would the Savannah Morning News publish these threats? If not, why was the threat to kill “wannabe Lance Armstrongs” treated differently? Was it the intended victims’ mode of transportation or the murder weapon (a car) that made the threat more palatable?
Still, I’m glad the Savannah Morning News chose to publish this comment. It is a reminder that there are those in our community who wish to do cyclists harm. It’s worth noting this comment was published on the same day as this NPR story. It reports the conviction of a driver in Los Angeles, who made good on his threats against some wannabe Lance Armstrongs by assaulting them with a deadly weapon: his car.
As a cyclist, the main threat to my safety comes in the form of inattentive, impatient, impaired or inexperienced drivers. The vast majority of motorists I encounter are friendly and courteous, though increasingly distracted. However, it’s a fact that there are people in this most mannerly city who have used their cars as weapons against cyclists. Others — even if they are simply making idle threats — can easily have them published in the daily newspaper.