Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I've carefully considered this subject, and I don't have a problem with memorials, whether roadside or ghost bikes. I find them fascinating, in fact. It is a (relatively) recent phenomenon. A new kind of ritual. Because of the increasing popularity of cremation, meaning that their often is no cemetery plot? Because the spot where someone dies as a result of the bloodbath we call transportation is special somehow? I don't know the answer, but it is fun to speculate.

However, I have a big problem with the statement in this article, attributed to "the activists."
Sometimes people express irritation the ghost bikes are never removed.
The activists say the same question is never asked of other roadside memorials to crash victims.
"Along the highway, you see these crosses," one said. "There are no time limits on those. Why should there be one on a bicyclist?"
Why isn't the speaker clearly identified? Why didn't the writer of this story investigate whether that claim was true?

I call BS. People complain all the time about roadside memorials to crash victims. Some people don't like them because they consider them a distraction, or a road hazard. Some say they are little more than litter and don't belong on public property - or private property that is not the memorial creator's. Others, in my opinion, are in death denial, and don't like the reminder. I always think, when people complain about memorials -- they are tacky, etc. -- why can't people be more compassionate and less judgmental when someone is grieving? I am not suggesting grief is an excuse for all sorts of bad behavior but if the display isn't harming anyone then be kind.

But I suspect this unsupportable assertion was slipped into the story without attribution because of the word "crosses." The speaker (or article writer, as far as I'm concerned, being unsourced, it may as well be made up) is implying people are more tolerant of a traditional religious symbol than they are of a new age one.

That's a bunch of crap. It's a false equivalence anyway. Roadside memorials are almost never as permanent as the ghost bikes; in fact, they are often removed after a period of time.

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