Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Columns like this don't help...

About the same time that somebody on the West Coast was taking pot shots at Peter McKay, a newspaper reporter in North Carolina posted the column you see above.

Ron Fitzwater's column illustrates the very kind of embedded hostility I discussed in the McKay entry.

I used to get worked up about columns like this. These days I find that kind of emotional investment is a waste of energy. There's little to be gained in aiming a flame thrower in his direction.

Mr. Fitzwater's article is an opinion piece, and as such, he's certainly entitled to his views. But the problem is, he makes factual assertions about the law regarding cyclists. Unfortunately for Mr. Fitzwater, he's just plain wrong.

There's a bigger problem. Mr. Fitzwater is not just writing a column. He's also a journalist. That raises a question: Aren't those guys supposed to be in the business of checking their facts before printing something?

I was curious about the messenger, Mr. Fitzwater. Who is he, what is his background, what world view or prejudices is he bringing to his calling as a journalist?

Here's his bio.

You'll see Mr. Fitzwater's goal is to provide "readers with a fair and balanced view of the place we all call home." Fair and balanced ... where have I heard that phrase before? Oh, right: Fox News. Careful, Mr. Fitzwater. That slogan is copyrighted.

Mr. Fitzwater served for years in the military and is a disabled vet. Perhaps he's not able to ride a bicycle, although I see that he gets out for a hike now and then.

I'm going to e-mail Mr. Fitzwater a copy of North Carolina's cycling laws. Had Mr. Fitzwater done one quick Internet search before shooting off his mouth, he would have turned up an undebatable fact: cyclists have the legal right to use the road.

Mr. Fitzwater's bio shows that he attended J-School. Perhaps he cut class the day they talked about backing up your statements with facts.

Instead, he chose to publish an opinion piece based on his own faulty intelligence. And we all know what can happen when you act on faulty intelligence.

By the way, Ron might be a right-winger on some fronts, but he's on the front line with the dope smokers on one issue. Here's an opinion column he wrote for his college newspaper.

Opinion:Hippie Lettuce
By Ron Fitzwater
Decree Editor-at-Large

The US Supreme Court recently ruled that the federal government has the right to overrule state laws that permit the use of medical marijuana even when it is prescribed by a doctor.

Now, most polls show that the majority of Americans are for medical use of hippie-lettuce (This includes yours truly). For example, a poll conducted by the AARP reported that 72 percent of people responding who are age 45 and older support the idea.

So why does the federal government want to keep Med-Weed use illegal for individuals who really need it? Personally, I think itʼs because they havenʼt found a way to legalize pot in a way that they can turn a profit.

Although there are exceptions to every situation, it should be noted that none - NOT ONE state of the 10 that allow use - allows patients to grow more than they can use (4-6 plants, depending on the state).

These are not big-time interstate traffickers; they are sick people in pain. Letʼs see how they spin it the first time some DEA assault team kicks in the door of an MS sufferer and drags him off to federal court.

Besides, itʼs an herb. Itʼs natural. Whether you believe in a God who created everything or think life happened by chance, we are not dealing with a man-made creation. People die every year due to Christmas tree fires, but the feds havenʼt outlawed “Douglas Firs”.

What a world!--RF

What a world, indeed. I wonder if the Mountain Times requires employees to pass a drug test.


Goon said...

The single biggest flaw in this thinking is the assumption that cyclists don't drive.

"Someone forgot to tell these energetic riders some basic facts about automobiles . . ." WTF?

The same fallacy rears its head when motorists tell you, "my gas taxes pay for these roads." Morons.

What I need is a jersey that says "I own more cars than you."

Cap'n said...

Perhaps Mr. Fitzwater should sell his car. I'm tired of supporting his fossil fuel exhausting sightseeing through my taxation to build and maintain roadways. Why do we allow cars on the Blue Ridge Parkway anyway? They really destroy the whole ambiance of the place. What rag would run such a piece? I guess the same that wouldn't catch a mispelling in the opening sentence.

Wes said...

Bikes seem to be a valid mode of transportation in other countries...I guess he should tell them to get off the roads there as well. I think too many cars speed on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is pretty hard to see much of the outdoors when you are flying along at 55. So according to Fitzwater, they are moving too fast to see anything and should not having their car on the Parkway and just go hike instead.

branson said...

Hey Mike, thanks for posting this. It was from The Mountain Times published by the Watagua Democrat in Boone. The editor quickly apologized that the opinion piece ran under a news heading. I remember the papers as being cycling advocates from my college days, and it seems the editor is as well. The best line in his apology: "As someone who occasionally cycles and has a few scars to prove it, I personally oppose the subject matter of Ron's column but again, I will still back up his right to express an unpopular opinion even if I disagree."

Treadly and Me said...

The next time Ron is approaching the kind of blind corner that would make use of his brakes a "moot point", perhaps he should consider that the thing "clogging up the road" just around that same corner might not be a soft and vulnerable cyclist--it might be a dirty big backhoe or a drunk driver on the wrong side of the road or a pile of bricks fallen off the back of a truck... If he seriously accepts that possibility, the dipstick might slow down and everyone (himself included) will be much safer on the roads.

Anonymous said...

I think I'll go ridding around that corner today.