Every so often someone writes and someone publishes a joke about cyclists that is in startlingly bad taste. The latest offering that 'the only good cyclist is a dead cyclist' is penned by a Richard Nye and published by a free magazine distributed in south west London. You can see the full context of the 'joke' here.
It is now almost 5 years since The Times published Matthew Parris's infamous article 'What's smug and deserves to be decapitated' article. True he followed this up with a half-apology feigning surprise that cyclists took his offensive words seriously.
So how is it that I can shrug off or even manage a weak smile at lawyer jokes ("What do you call a lawyer tied to a mill stone at the bottom of the sea? A good start") but like most cyclists feel outrage at the likes of Parris and his imitator, Nye?. Simple; it is because there is no chance that somebody will tie a millstone around my neck and drop me overboard. Conversely I have been attacked, sworn at and threatened merely because I am on a bicycle. Only last week my life was seriously threatened by atrocious and selfish driving. It is hard to conceive of how distressing these 'jokes' must be to people whose loved ones have been killed whilst cycling.
I am in favour of free speech and would not therefore want a legal sanction against these 'jokers'. .However I can still reach for the off button every time I hear Parris's distinctive voice on radio or television and were I a resident of southwest London, Nye's publication would go straight into the bin. Whilst they exercise their right to make very bad offensive jokes I will exercise mine to think the worse of them for it.